On Monday, November 16, 2015 a number of states – all of them conservative “red states” – said they would no longer accept Syrian refugees.
A short update on current events: The current Syrian civil war has killed more 220,000 people and displaced over 11 million people. More than 2,600 people have died at sea attempting to flee – many of them children. If you are unfamiliar with what is going on in Syria, I suggest you watch this video.
The Bible is very clear about our response to the needy and outcasts. In Matthew 25, Jesus condemns people to Hell for ignoring the cries of the poor, the refugee, and the brokenhearted. He says that in failing to give them water, food, shelter, and protection, they were rejecting Him. And thus, they were tossed into the eternal fire.
And here’s the kicker: Those people who were sent to Hell thought they were going to Heaven.
Jesus had a lot more to say about we how treat displaced peoples. In fact, here are twelve additional commands from the Old and New Testament regarding this very situation.
Simply put, if we fear ISIS militants sneaking in with Syrian refugees more than we fear God’s Word, then we may want to rethink which side of the fence we’re standing on.
America has the opportunity to show Christ to the world. But number of people – most of who were elected primarily for their claims of faith – are preventing that from happening. And a lot more people – most of whom refer to themselves as Christian – are celebrating that decision.
The Syrian refugees are a people fleeing a literal hell on Earth – a place where attacks similar to what happened in Paris occur daily. Let’s stop talking about reclaiming the ‘faith’ of the America’s past, and start being the church today.
the christian and “just” war
A lot has been said recently (and, to be fair, since the launch of the first crusade) about the doctrine of so-called “just war” and the Christian’s role in the fight against radical Islamic extremism.
Let me be clear: If we claim to be the people of Christ and are simultaneously advocating a position that will result in the deaths of non-Christians, then we are supporting a policy that we knowingly acknowledge will send people to Hell.
If we find ourselves holding an opinion toward war that errs more on the side of “Let God sort ‘em out” or “Forgiveness is between them and God, it’s up to us to arrange the meeting,” then at the very best we would need to question how much we truly value human life and the eternal soul. At the very worst, we should assume we’re following a god we’ve cobbled together from your own fears, insecurities, patriotism, and bigotry and just happened to call him “Jesus.”
a third choice
Jesus is constantly challenging the logic and thought patterns of His culture. In the Kingdom He is establishing on Earth, the first are last, the poor are rich, and the weak are strong. He is turning the established order upside down.
He also had a lot to say about violence and retaliation that challenged natural conventions. He told us to love our enemy, pray for those persecute us, and turn the other cheek if we are struck.
“But what about ISIS, the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda?” you ask. “Are we suppose to let them kill innocents and overtake countries?”
Because of my faith, I know I don’t have to choose between war and pacifism. There is a third way. And it is rooted in belief that I serve a God who is making all things new in the present age and using His followers to facilitate the heavening of earth.
Romans 13 makes it clear that God uses established governments and kingdoms on Earth to dole out justice against evil. I believe that. I also believe that God removes and establishes kings and world leaders (Daniel 2:21) in part to carry out His will on Earth. In addition to that, I believe Christians aren’t supposed to pursue revenge because vengeance belongs to the Lord (Romans 12:19).
The point I’m trying to make is that a Christian who believes in the sovereignty of the Lord doesn’t have to pick a side in this fight. You don’t have to choose between America and anarchy.
So, if we don’t have to choose between pacifism and war, then how are followers of Christ supposed to respond in the volatile world we find ourselves in?
If the government thinks the best way to deal with terrorists and rogue nations is through bombs, missiles, and bullets, then I won’t stand in their way. But as a Christian, I can’t condone such violence. War is a broken response to a problem born out of a broken world. But I rest in the knowledge that God will dole out justice – in this world or the next.
I just don’t think it should be Christians pulling the trigger or advocating for the trigger pull.
Instead our response to war should be opening our homes (and our border) to those displaced by the conflict, sharing the Gospel, and praying for our enemies. You know, exactly what the Bible says.
And then let God handle the rest.
The words “fear not” are mentioned in the Bible 365 times. And yet, American Christians seem to be the most fearful subset of the population. We fear persecution when we are greeted with “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” we tremble when the Ten Commandments are removed from courthouses, and we repost blatantly false and cruel articles about our current President on Facebook.
What? And we’re the people that serve the Alpha and the Omega, the One who is and who was and is to come?
Here’s a list of things the modern American Christian is afraid of based on my Facebook feed on any given day: homosexuals, terrorists, socialism, liberals, democrats, people taking away their guns, conservationists, Muslims, universal healthcare, Hollywood, immigrants, illegal aliens, the mainstream media, the Shemitah year, Obama and Starbucks.
It’s time for us to take stock. Our national proclivity toward fear has led us down a path where we have a viable presidential candidate advocating for the creation of a database that tracks and requires the registration of Muslims residing in the United States.
Who in the world would want to be a Christian if we are a people defined by fear and “moral outrage?”
Fear is rooted in insecurity, and insecurity is ultimately rooted in the belief that God does not know what He’s doing.
This is why “fear not” is the most oft-repeated command in the Bible.
us for them
This is not an easy message for most American Christians to hear. I understand that. For many of us, our nationalistic tendencies are so intertwined with our faith that they are almost inseparable.
I love the Church. God is doing some amazing things through His people in America and around the world. But something dark snuck into our faith that masquerades behind terms like “national security” and “patriotic duty.”
Something called fear.
In the end, we have to make a choice. And that choice may very well be choosing not to play within the logic and conventions of this world.
It may mean choosing verses over bullets, aid over shrapnel, songs over war cries, compassion over exile, forgiveness over vengeance, empathy over bigotry, peace over fear, blessing over curses, love over hate, and eternal life over security.
It may cost you your life.
But you’d be in good company.