Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22: 35-40; King James Bible)
Who is our neighbor? What makes loving them the second greatest commandment? We read about love for our fellow man all throughout Christ’s ministry on earth. “Love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 13:34; King James Bible) Throughout his ministry Christ emphasized that we should love our fellow man. He even went on to explain exactly what he meant by “love thy neighbor.”
But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. (Luke 10: 29-37; King James Bible)
In this parable, Christ clearly explained that those who show compassion are true neighbors. Those who show love toward their fellow man, despite differences in creed or ideology, are those who are keeping that great commandment.
But what about people who have slighted us? Or people whose members have expressed hatred toward us? Are we still required to love them? Christ has an answer for that too.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt lovethy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; (Matthew 5: 43-44)
I don’t know about you, but I see a very clear trend here of unconditional love for all people. So why is it that so many people have a hard time loving those of Muslim creed? Why are we unwilling to help those who have been displaced by war simply because those people are a different faith than us?
Look back to the parable of the Good Samaritan. Christ made a very deliberate choice to use the Samaritan as the hero of the tale. At the time, the Samaritans and the Jews were in a blood feud with one another. By using a Samaritan as the hero, Christ emphasized the hypocrisy of the Jewish leadership. This was particularly emphasized by addition of a Priest and a Levite in the story who both walk by without even attempting to help.
Today, we are faced with a similar situation. We have a whole nation of people who have “fallen among thieves, are wounded, and left for dead.” A civil war in Syria has left hundreds of thousands of innocent people exiled from their homes as they have fled the violence. And now they are looking for protection and sanctuary. Yet, here in the US, a nation in which a vast number of people claim to be Christian, people are clamoring over one another to be the most vindictive and hateful as they demand that none of them be allowed in the country. Are these people really showing love toward their fellow man?
Most of these people are attempting to justify their hate of these refugees by attempting to tie them to ISIS, a terrorist organization that formed in the chaos left in the Middle East after we destabilized the region. By claiming they don’t want terrorists to enter the US, they are attempting to justify their nature as the Priest and Levite who left their neighbor on the side of the road dying.
The Book of Mormon gives us another example of this Christ-like love for our neighbor. In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and Lamanites were enemies for generations. Despite this hatred, the sons of the Nephite King Mosiah felt the love of Christ in their hearts and sought to bring the Gospel of Christ to the Lamanites. Through their love and example, these young men brought thousands of Lamanites to the gospel. However, those Lamanites who still had hate in their hearts persecuted and killed those converted to the gospel. In the end, the only way to protect themselves was to flee. The only place left to flee that would provide any protection was the home of the Lamanite’s enemy the Nephites. When they arrived, what did the Nephites do with this group of people, who called themselves Anti-Nephi-Lehis, who were once their hated enemy? Did they turn them away to fend for themselves because they were afraid of potential wolves among the sheep?
And it came to pass that the chief judge sent a proclamation throughout all the land, desiring the voice of the people concerning the admitting their brethren, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.
And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful; and this land Jershon is the land which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance.
And behold, we will set our armies between the land Jershon and the land Nephi, that we may protect our brethren in the land Jershon; and this we do for our brethren, (Alma 27: 21-23; Book of Mormon)
Not only did the people of Nephi, a self proclaimed Christian nation, chose to love their neighbor. They not only allowed these people, these people who were once their hated enemy, to seek sanctuary, but they also provided a new home for them and provided defense support from those who persecuted them. Truly a people who have accepted the love of Christ into their hearts.
It seems that a minority of people in the US have this love in their hearts. With so many people in political power, and those that support them, declaring that the refugees should not be allowed into the US because their faith is not “Christian enough”, is an affront to Christ and his teachings. It is an affront to basic humanity.
As a Libertarian, I have a hard time understanding why anyone would support those who have expressed xenophobic and bigoted sentiments toward these war refugees. The Libertarian Party has long been a supporter of helping those who have been persecuted in their home countries escape to safety.
Political freedom and escape from tyranny demand that individuals not be unreasonably constrained by government in the crossing of political boundaries. (Libertarian Platform 3.4)
I find this policy to be more in line with the Gospel of Christ and his message of love your neighbor.
In the end, who are we supposed to emulate? Are we to be the Priest or Levite, or are we to be the Samaritan or Nephites? Do we love those seeking safety from death and destruction or do we pass by on the other side of the road and claim that those people are not our problem? Or do we justify our hated and bigotry by claiming that our enemy might be hiding among them? What would Christ do in this situation? What would he ask us to do?