“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14:26 NIV
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” –Matthew 10:28 NIV
The above image is Syria.
That is what over half the country’s population is fleeing from.
Eleven million Syrians are risking life and limb to get away from it.
There are some things we can debate about:
The age of the earth.
Whether or not Alabama deserves to be in the current College Football Playoff standings.
But there are some things that should not require debate for the Christian.
It is wrong to sleep with someone other than your spouse.
It is wrong to cheat and defraud someone in a business deal.
It is increasingly wrong to gorge yourself at the buffet.
It is right to give generously and abundantly.
It is right to try to build people up rather than tear them down.
It is right to give glory to God and let him exalt you if he so desires.
There are lots of clear things in scripture; there are lots of easy answers to many different issues (and issues which have little if any answers).
I thought that helping and giving assistance to the defenseless and helpless was one of them.
I guess I was wrong.
I am an American, for better or for worse, but I am most importantly a Christian, which means that I am part of the physical manifestation of the Body of Christ on earth.
So when my American values conflict with my Christian values, then I must of necessity choose my Christian ones.
I may be an American citizen, but I am a reborn child of God more so.
And as such, it is my responsibility to be a disciple of Christ in the good times and bad, in the times of refreshment and the times of suffering.
I understand, I really do, the fear of the unknown and the self-evident that clouds our American Christian perspective.
We are more enamored with our homes and families here, than with the idea of being tortured, raped, crucified, or beheaded by someone who practices a radical form or sect of orthodox Sunni Islam.
That makes all the human sense in the world; protecting ourselves just seems like the wise and justified decision.
But so does the road that leads to hell and destruction.
We have become a people driven by empirical outcomes; if we were assured that no ISIS members were able to get into the country, we would be all for letting refugees in (I hope).
We would be glad to show them love, compassion, and mercy…if we could guarantee they are harmless.
But we can’t do this with anything in life in that manner.
Jesus did not say, “Maybe you should love your enemies…”
He said, “Love your enemies…” And then he let them betray him, dessert him, mock him, beat him, and crucify him.
Because we were all his enemies; every last one of us.
Romans 5:8, “God demonstrated his love toward us in that while we were still sinners (read his enemies), Christ died for us.
If our Savior was willing to die for his enemies; shouldn’t that be our response?
Since when did Christianity become more about imitating the Joel Osteens of the world and less about imitating the Jim Elliots?
Now, I am not saying you should throw aside your family and charge into the jungle; but when it comes to the fear of death and loss of security, we should be more than willing to do “risky,” “unsafe” things in order to be Christ to people.
We have the opportunity to be Christ to millions of Muslim Syrians, many of who have never heard of him.
We refused to go to the Middle East, so God is bringing the Middle East to us.
Dare we refuse him again?
Dare we to choose our Camelot over his kingdom?
The same reasoning used to keep out refugees, is the argument that was used in “white flight” and now is being used in the gentrification of urban areas.
We want safety, security, and comfort without having to deal with the pain and agony of the world.
We don’t want to be in “that” neighborhood because the kids (and adults) are “degenerate hoodlums.”
We don’t want to get to get near that guy/gal on the side of the road because they might take advantage of us or rob us.
We would be terrible Samaritans…
Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but I give you my peace that where I am there you may also be.”
In this world we will lose people.
Everyone will die.
We will die.
The people we love will die.
Romans 3:23 rightly says, “The wages of sin is death…”
We are born in sin, and eventually our mortal bodies will die to sin.
Jesus promised to be with us and help us to triumph despite the loss.
When we protect ourselves, we lose ourselves.
The more we cling to this world, the bigger the crowbar God will use to pry it out of our hands.
I get angry and distressed about this subject because it is our responsibility as God’s people to help and to give shelter when no one else will.
And instead it is the majorly Christian populace who is opposing doing what is good, beautiful, and true…not secular humanists or atheists.
You see, there was a time where we ran into the danger.
When the plague gripped Rome, it was the Christians who stayed and nursed dying people while the rich and powerful pagans ran to their villas.
We did not just love our own, it overflowed out into the sick and dying around us.
Throughout history, though the Church has had plenty of dark moments, there have been opportunities for Christ’s body to demonstrate the coming kingdom to those no one cared about.
Today, we run into our garages and take care of our own.
We may give money or food here or there so that we can sleep at night, but for the most part we have abandoned our role as prophetic advocates for those don’t have a voice.
I work for a non-profit ministry that deals with individuals no one else cares about:
Teenagers with mental health issues.
These people are the ones that we either 1) are scared of and don’t know what to do about or 2) we hate and want to rot in prison.
But they are still made in the image of God; Jesus would have been right in the midst of them.
It is not wrong for us to love our families and want to protect them; I love my wife.
But it is wrong when we put the safety and comfort of our families as idols over being ambassadors of the kingdom.
Don’t abuse your family; don’t neglect your family.
But don’t use your family as a shield for not trusting God’s goodness and greatness.
You will miss out, and so will your family, if you put them before Christ.
It is absolutely necessary for us to come to aid of these refugees; to fight for their opportunity to live in peace and safety…something some of them have never experienced.
We don’t have to take them into our homes, though if we are prompted and have the means we certainly can!
What do we wish to communicate to our children:
That we are people of sacrificial, “foolish” generosity and compassion that mirrors the same fierceness and softness of our Savior; that we trust God with our lives and theirs. That Christ alone is our hope and inheritance in this broken world.
That we care mostly about protecting what is ours and what keeps of safe. That we want a long life of relative ease, filled with the things we have worked hard for and deserve. That God is just an addendum to our prosperity and a justification for our self preservation.
I challenge anyone to give me scriptural argument, in the light of the person, work, and mission of Jesus, that we should not look out for the welfare of these refugees.
Regardless of where they come from.
Regardless of what they may do to us, and yes the people we love.
For us is to live Christ, and to die gain?
Shall we live in fear, or will we act in reckless trust in the goodness and greatness of our God?
The witness of Christ and the gospel is at stake.
Grace and Peace in Jesus Christ
I recognize that the state has the right to refuse these refugees. I also recognize that there are many secular arguments for and against allowing the refugees asylum here. However, my argument concerns the Christian attitude and response to such refugees. I believe it is our responsibility to advocate to our governing officials and to our society on behalf of such individuals. We cannot force our government to do anything, but we should and must do is be a Christian voice and witness in our pluralistic, secular government for those whom God cares deeply about. It is a matter of justice, not a matter of preference.