This question, with endless possibilities of what to add afterwards, can paralyze any decision or movement forward. However, ‘What if?’ can also open our minds to consider things we may not have been willing to contemplate or even think possible.
I would like to submit this question for you to consider, as I have, concerning the asylum seeking/refugee/immigration crisis. Please, this is not a political post in support or opposition of the current debate in the U.S. or of Western countries around the world. It is intended to be a brief, personal examination of the topic in general, from a Biblical perspective as well as from personal experience, whether directly or vicariously.
What if you and I agreed with the Apostle Peter, when he said we are ‘aliens and strangers?’ (1 Peter 2:11). Doesn’t that make us ‘people not from here?’ In others words, ‘displaced people?’ In fact, much of the Old and New Testaments are scribed by or about people who were aliens, strangers, exiles, outcasts, or sojourners…(a word study will reveal hundreds of references). Virtually all of us reading this post are ancestors of aliens, strangers, immigrants, asylum seekers, or displaced peoples, whether by choice or by force or out of necessity. In this sense all of us can relate to much that is written in the Scriptures (and to those who find themselves in this situation today).
In my travels, and in my local community, I am intrigued by the stories of many who have sought a new location, again by choice or out of necessity. Of recent, my work avails me to the most desperate of those who are displaced. Often their stories are tragic and heart-wrenching. Many of those I talk with have left or lost loved ones. Many were accomplished or settled in their work, school and lives. All left their homeland with the shirts on their backs and whatever they could carry. They have found themselves travelling on a wearied journey that has created more questions than answers. Most will not have the opportunity to seek professional help, grief counseling or PTSD therapy. In Europe more than half of the displaced peoples are men between the ages of 15-25 (for obvious survival and provision reasons), seeking a better life but often coming up empty.
So, what if…?
What if we took the words of Jesus and the Prophets seriously? (Ps. 61:1, Luke 4:18-19) How would our lives be different?
For just a few moments, what if we put ourselves in the shoes of a displaced person?
What if we, the Bride of Christ, were to follow in His footsteps through demonstration (good works) and proclamation of the good news? Jesus Himself began his life on earth as a displaced person, forced to seek temporary asylum by no choice of His own, in His humanness, and lived as One without a home and unaccepted as ‘not of us’ wherever He went – an outcast.
He is the One who has asked us to identify with displaced peoples, as the displaced peoples we are (as stated by the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:20).
In our current context, what if we lived out our true identity in Christ and His calling on our lives? What if…?