As we prepare for Easter this year, we cannot jump into a spirit and atmosphere of celebration and thanksgiving for the grace that has brought us salvation without acknowledging the pain and suffering around us. We cannot prostrate at the foot of the cross without looking up to see the viciousness of the nails that tore through our Savior’s flesh. How then can we worship God freely and truly when vicious human desire tears through humanity as a whole?
As I sit here in my office on an island in the southern part of the Pacific Ocean, I looked out of my window and see green palm leaves waving wildly as they are battered by strong winds. There is a low pressure warning signaling a possible cyclone. The trees are so green that when you look at it you will see signs of life. However, looming over this sign of life and vibrancy is chaos, and possibly death.
While we are going to celebrate life in Jesus Christ in the coming weeks, some of our brothers and sisters are pained by war, hatred, discrimination, and narcissism. It is without a surprise that these things which causes others pain is practiced and supported by many who profess they have life in and through Jesus Christ. Here in Fiji the government has just deported an Iranian man refugee who entered this country using false documents. This nation prides itself in being a Christian country and yet we fail to live up to the simplest of Christian command, love your neighbor. We fail to attend to those who are in need.
Although this tiny Island Nation called Fiji is thousands of miles away from the bigger nations that control the world’s economy and affairs, we are no different in our response to those who need a space to live – the refugees of our time.
I am reminded of Matthew 4: 11 where Jesus, after going through an intense degree of fasting, then having his humanity tested instead of fulfilled, the angels attended to him. After the devil tested Jesus, Matthew wrote, “Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
In light of what I have shared above regarding refugees being turned away by us instead of embracing them and allowing them to live, and the way we do mission in the world today, I want to focus on two important words in this verse. First is the word angels, and second is the word attended or in other translation ministered. The word angles in the Greek also means a messenger. The word attended or ministered in the Greek also have a connotation of providing support from ones private means. The angels in Matthew probably were supernatural beings, or they could be humans who met Jesus and attended to his need out of love instead of deceiving him.
We deceive people when we want something in return. This is exactly the nature in which Satan tempted Jesus. Every offer comes with a deceiving “promise.” We need to provide help without holding anything back. We need to embrace our brothers and sisters, without fear and doubt. Creating a safe environment for us to live in begins not with fear and doubt, but with love.
We will fight to stop our country from sending anymore refugees away from our airports. We shall embrace and love them. I know, if the refugee was a Christian it would have had a different ending. Love without boundaries, is love from above.
Niko Tapaeko serves as a Long-term Volunteer with the Pacific Council of Churches located in Fiji. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.