I was wondering whether I should do a podcast or blog. I haven’t blogged in a while, but I have been sitting on this for a couple of days. I just can’t wrap my mind around this simple fact. Messaging matters. You can say something with good intentions, but if your tone is off, your words are off, or your delivery lacking, your message will be affected. Who knows what Trump’s intentions were, or are, but one thing is clear; it got a lot of people riled up.
So what does that have to do with us as Christians. Maybe my head has been in the sand, which it could be, but I don’t feel I have heard or read enough how we as Christians in America should respond to the Syrian refugee crisis. I haven’t heard a message that counteracts the message of fear and division being preached by certain politicians.
Despite his huge error to mitigate between terrorists and moderate muslims, I think Trump is correct in his evaluation that we need a screening system that works as well as a means to processing and deterring terrorists from entering. That is just common sense. I will not deal with the politics of immigration nor that of military intervention in Syria. I want to skip past that however and focus on two things: In light of recent events how do we react and engage the muslim community that is currently here? and how do we engage the refugees who will eventually arrive?
There is a verse that comes to mind that says the following
14For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view
What should we be compelled to do?
Matthew 25:35-36 tells up partially
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Those who know the parable understand that we as believers are challenged to feed, take in, and care for the weak among us. We are to take them in. But let me go back to the verse in 2 Corinthians about the love of Christ compelling us. The love of Christ compels us to share Christ with the world. The central part of sharing is communicating the gospel of Christ, but we cannot completely divorce the message of the gospel without a tangible display of gospel love. The love of Christ compels me to feed the hungry. Christ’s love compels me to visit the sick, it compels me to shelter the homeless, and to welcome the stranger. Gospel love is communicated when we serve those who may not like us or even believe in our message. Jesus came and gave his life to serve even those who would reject him. Jesus’ death for us while we were yet sinners, and his enemies shows us how love conquers sin; even the sins of fear and hate.
Going back to messaging. We as Christians must say that even when we have doubts, fears and insecurities that the love of Christ compels us to serve and love any refugee but not just the muslim refugees, but our muslim neighbors as well.
In an age where division, racism, and bigotry are increasing at alarming rates, we as the Church should with biblical conviction state our commitment to communicating the truth that is in Christ Jesus. The love of Christ compels me to engage my muslim neighbor, to dialogue, to share; not the Jesus of the Koran, but the risen Christ indwelling his church.
Muslims need Jesus too. When Paul says we regard no one from a worldly point of view, he is hinting that our view of the world and of muslims, atheists, agnostics, buddhists etc should all be colored by the fact that they are people who need Jesus. We must show love and communicate that message in love. It will not always be accepted, sometimes it will be rejected, scorned, mocked and even vilified. Yet our mission still remains. Paul can understand this point clearly because he once was a terrorist who had someone risk their life to share the gospel with him. Where would we be without Ananias? Yet because Ananias was compelled by the love of Christ and dared visit a man who was blinded by zeal and hatred, the ancient world and the world today has been changed.
I pray that we believers in America, Europe, and the rest of the world take advantage of the opportunity to show the Light of the world, to those living under a veil of darkness. Let us not be paralyzed by fear, but with wisdom and boldness let us declare and proclaim the hope, freedom, and rest that is only found in Christ Jesus.