The African and Middle Eastern refugees flooding Europe are causing many to question what responsibility we have toward them. Greece is desperately trying to help thousands of refugees fleeing the brutality of Islamic State. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently stated, “Despite the precarious situation facing the livelihoods of many Greek people, their response towards refugees has for the most part been welcoming and generous.” The volunteers helping refugees make their way to Europe through Macedonia are another example of help being given to our global neighbors (see “Seeking Refuge: Migrants trekking to EU find helping hands in Macedonia,” CSMonitor.com).
I deeply value this humanitarian aid and am impelled to break through human indifference and inaction with consecrated prayer. To be effective, I see that my prayers need to begin with the kind of love Christ Jesus expressed through his teachings and healing works. He taught us to pray out of love for God and our neighbor – to understand God as Love and express that Love in our love for others (see I John 4:7, 8). He showed that extending help requires an honest look into the question, “Who is my neighbor?”
It’s a question that Jesus unequivocally answered when a lawyer was looking to tempt him. Jesus perceived the man knew the letter of the law – which was to love God and your neighbor – but was lacking in the spirit of it. After instructing the man to go and act on the law, the lawyer, “willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29).
Jesus answered this question with a parable: He described a man who was robbed, beaten, and left half dead on the road. A priest, and then a Levite, each pass by without helping. But then a Samaritan stops, tenderly cares for the man’s wounds, takes him to an inn, and not only leaves him well cared for, but says to the innkeeper, “Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee” (Luke 10:35).
After telling this story, Jesus asked the lawyer which one of the three was a neighbor to the man left half dead? He responded: “He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37).
It’s a lesson that could not be more applicable today in helping refugees who are stymied by political and national interests. The good Samaritan parable holds up the Christ view of our identity as children of divine Love, where we naturally respond with unselfish care for all our brothers and sisters. Jesus teaches that we can, and must, break through indifference and inaction with the law of Love that governs within us.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, explains the powerful reach of divine Love and how to utilize it: “To coincide with God’s government is the proper incentive to the action of all nations....
“The government of divine Love is supreme. Love rules the universe, and its edict hath gone forth: ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me,’ and ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’ ” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 278).
To coincide with the government of Love includes expressing the same nature as God. It’s the nature Christ Jesus brought to our view through the parable, explaining that a desire to care for others comes from the understanding of our own, and everyone’s, identity as children of Love.
We find this love of God within us through prayer that feels the ever-present influence of the Christ impelling us to humbly accept the truth that as children of Love we can only be loving. Love requires us to give up the view of others as undeserving of love, because we understand Love, God, as unconditional and universal. Love causes us to turn away from indifference and toward sensitivity to the needs of others.
We see this effect of the spirit of Christ in those caring for the refugees – including refugees caring for one another – against many obstacles. The power of Christ reaches deep into the thought of humanity to correspond with the government of Love. And in understanding Love we become less selfish, we lose fear of our neighbors, and we find the means to care for others. In this way, we prove the words from Isaiah, “They helped every one his neighbour; and every one said to his brother, Be of good courage” (41:6).