Perhaps you have tuned into ‘Border Security’ to unwind from work, a television series that shows behind the scenes of Australia’s immigration, customs and quarantine departments. At times light-hearted, we poke fun at travellers smuggling in prohibited food, especially during this season of celebration, with the delicious but incriminating Chinese New Year goodies. But sometimes, the episode focuses on an individual who has a questionable background that raises alarm. As always, the familiar question is posed to them, “What’s your real reason for coming to Australia?”
Since 1977, Australia has been a part of the UNHCR resettlement program and has consistently been ranked as one of the top three resettlement countries in the world. However, in light of the Prime Minister’s National Security Statement delivered yesterday, things are about to change. Tony Abbott calls for a stepping up of counter-terrorism measures and implementing new measures to strengthen immigration laws.
Still raw and etched in our minds is the Martin Place siege, in which the perpetrator had been granted Australian citizenship. Yet in a lesser known context, refugees who are genuinely fleeing persecutions seem to be denied asylum.
The choice Australia faces is to either “let in” or “keep out”, or otherwise concluded by Tony Abbott, “There is always a trade off between the rights of an individual and the safety of the community”.
Reflecting on the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37, Jesus tells us to “Love your neighbour as yourself”, and challenges us not to limit our definition of ‘neighbour’. That being said, being a ‘Good Samaritan’ brings risk. It will mean inconvenience, the possibility of misunderstanding and things not always working out as you had intended. But these risks do not diminish Jesus’ command.
Border security may be risky business, but we still have a choice whether we want to treat others as ourselves. John Piper leaves us to wonder, “Am I desiring and seeking the temporal and eternal good of my neighbour with the same zeal, ingenuity and perseverance that I seek my own?”