The Refugee Opportunity

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

As Christians, we have a much higher calling to current issues, and it is not national, it is eternal. It is to view all of life through the lens of scripture and to filter all that we think, feel, say and do—or don’t—through the values of God’s kingdom. Case in point: what do you do with refugees that have flooded your city? Of course, there is a rightful political and legal response, but the kingdom response that you and your spiritual community embrace must always be redemptive.

Going Deep // Focus: Ruth 2:10

Ruth fell at the feet of Boaz and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”

Keep in mind that as you read scripture, there is always the historical context that you should seek to understand and the primary theological meaning that you should seek to apply. Beyond that, we can find profound and practical secondary applications within most, if not all, Bible passagens. The book of Ruth is primarily a historical story that connects the time of the Judges to the arrival of the Davidic dynasty, and ultimately shows us the lineage of the Son of David, Jesus the Messiah. It is also a moving account of Boaz, who fulfills the Mosaic law of the kinsman-redeemer by marrying his deceased relative’s widow, Ruth. Boaz is an Old Testament type of Christ. Beyond that, this is a beautiful account of love, loyalty, friendship between Ruth and her mother-in-law Naomi and between Ruth and her prince charming, Boaz.

Yet there is still another practical application that is so relevant to our national discussion these days: what to do with refugees from the under-resourced world who are flooding western Europe and North America. Like so many refugees today, Ruth was a Moabite who fled to Israel in order to survive unfortunate conditions in her homeland. Unfortunately, our national response to refugees fleeing their homeland to ours is not so much a discussion these days as politics have taken over, sides have been chosen, and opinions have been set in concrete. We no longer discuss the plight of the refugee, we scream at the other side. And all the while the refugee suffers the indignity of being forced from their home.

Of course, nations have laws that should be made and enforced. If they don’t, what good is government? And of course, as citizens of a free country, we should engage in political debate and feel free to express our opinion—hopefully with respect, in an informed way and with an openness to hear opposing views. We need good laws to keep us safe and prosperous. If the rule of law goes by the wayside, so shall our nation.

Having said that, as Christians, we have a much higher and more eternal calling and it is not national, it is kingdom. It is to view all of life through the lens of scripture and to filter your all that we think, feel, say and do—or don’t—through the values of God’s kingdom. Case in point: what do you do with refugees that have flooded your city? Again, there is a rightful political and legal response, but what is the kingdom response that you and your spiritual community should embrace?

For me, and I think there is a very clear answer as we read and apply the story of Ruth and Boaz. Simply, we should act with compassion and kindness toward them. That is what Boaz did for Ruth. How so? Notice several ways that he responded redemptively with this refugee named Ruth:

  1. Boaz, at a base level, was aware and willing to engage. Ruth 2:5 says, “Then Boaz asked his foreman, ‘Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?” He didn’t turn a blind eye to this destitute foreigner; he didn’t bury his head in the sand or pretend it was the Israeli government’s job to take care of her. He was morally curious.
  2. Boaz protected her. In Ruth 2:9, Boaz said to Ruth, “I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.” When people come from a foreign culture to our land, they are at their most vulnerable; they are likely to face unscrupulous people who would take advantage of them; they are likely to experience angry, hateful people who would say and do things to them that are unkind and discouraging.
  3. Boaz encouraged her. In Ruth 2:12, Boaz offered these uplifting words to Ruth: “May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.” If you have traveled to a foreign country, you know how vulnerable and helpless you feel, knowing neither language nor customs. Having a national speaking encouragingly in an authentically kind way is a life-giving gift to you. And it doesn’t cost the nation a cent!
  4. Boaz personally engaged in her plight. He did more than speak kindly and inclusively, he gave of himself and his resources: “At mealtime Boaz called to her, ‘Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.’ So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over.” (Ruth 2:14)
  5. Boaz went the extra mile. Boaz didn’t just do his duty; he went above and beyond the minimum to generously offer the maximum. Ruth 2:15-16 tells us, “When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, ‘Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!”

Truly Boaz was a foreshadowing of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. He expressed incarnational involvement, offered unmerited favored, showered undeserved kindness, gave unrequired inclusiveness and expressed open-handed generosity. The point is, that is what God has done for you in Jesus. But the point also is that what God has done for you should now be what you do for others, especially the most vulnerable among you.

May you be an agent of redemptive lift in the refugee debate!

Going Deeper With God: Do you have an immigrant in your neighborhood. Show up at their doorstep with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Invite them over for a barbecue. Get engaged—that is what God did for you.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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