Monthly Archives: November 2015

Refugees in My Backyard

I have seen a lot of decent, God-fearing Christians sharing their views on the Syrian refugee situation. In attempting to decide if the United States should allow people from Syria who could possibly be ISIS operatives into the country, many use scripture to back their opinions, yet still find themselves on opposing sides.

I see a lot of merit in the wisdom (or attempts at it) from the Matthew 10:16 campers: “‘I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.’” What I can’t figure out about this one is how doing nothing for these refugees makes us shrewd and innocent. As Edmund Burke said,
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I also see the sincerity—at least I think that’s what’s being attempted—from the Matthew 25:44-45 folks: “‘Then they will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?” ‘And he will answer, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”’” What I can’t figure out about this one is how it suddenly applies more to the refugees from Syria than it does to the folks sleeping on the benches downtown.

While I’m sure there must be a way to reconcile these two passages, I haven’t been sure what that looks like. Then I came across this passage in my timehop today from 4 years ago. “For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” 1 Peter 2:21-24 NLT

Suffering? No thanks! Most Americans have no clue what true suffering really is. And do good, even if it means suffering? Not interested! Those kind of things are going to put us way out of our comfort zone. Those kind of things are going to mean sacrificing a meal once in a while and giving it to a homeless veteran, or cleaning out a couple of outfits from our closets for a family whose home has burned, or inviting a shut-in to our homes for Thanksgiving dinner. Let’s start with those things. There are people in our own backyards who need our help today—they also needed it yesterday and last week and last month and last year. Whether it’s helping folks in our home mission field or opening our doors to people from a dangerous war-torn nation, we very well may find ourselves suffering for their sakes. But we can follow the example of Christ who left his case in the hands of God and suffered for us.

I still don’t have all the answers for this situation, and I in no way believe that I have set an example of helping the less fortunate. But, frankly, I don’t think any of us have the right answer—so now I want to present for your consideration a lengthly passage that came up in my Bible study class tonight:

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another” (Gal. 5:16-26, NLT, emphasis mine).

Let’s be sure that in all our good intentions, we don’t find ourselves fighting the wrong battle. The Enemy will do anything to bring division among believers. If we can’t have discussions about this that are characterized by peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control, but bring quarreling, dissension, provocation and division instead, we shouldn’t even engage in the conversation.