The attacks in Paris last week have brought the topic of Syrian refugees back to the forefront. My FB and Twitter feeds are clogged with views and opinions from both sides about how we should handle these people with no home to go back to. I’m not surprised at some of the responses. I knew many people would brand the majority of the refugees as “threats to our national security.”
What I am surprised at is the disparity I see between the way that many Christians have responded as opposed how the more “liberally” minded American has. I’m not talking about what the Republican candidates are pitching as their potential policy; they’re just going to say the opposite of whatever the Democrat candidates say. And, I really can’t take a lot of what Trump says seriously any way; maybe it’s the hair.
What I’m talking about is that fact that most of the people I know (and those I see throughout various media outlets), that would be branded “liberal,” are in favor of helping and welcoming them, while I see so many Christians talking more about our need to protect ourselves from those refugees that may potentially be ISIS members.
And there in lies the problem. So many Americans have confused being American with following Christ. American Christianity holds up the 2nd Amendment and the American flag; Christianity holds up Christ. American Christianity is content with going to church on Sunday; Christianity is compelled to go to the needy. American Christianity trusts in the government to protect us; Christianity depends on God for strength in weakness. American Christianity demands the government legislate civil morality; Christianity trusts in the love of Christ to transform hearts.
We sit in our secure neighborhoods, in our safe homes and watch in horrified outrage while ISIS beheads Christians on a beach. We take to social media and call for their destruction and talk about the need to pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters. Then, we get outraged and scream persecution because of a red cup or because someone says “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” We’re more concerned with “keeping Christ in Christmas” than we are in revealing Christ in us.
We’ve let fear grip us and because of that we speak of refusing to allow those in deep need, refuge. We support Trump when he says, “they’re going back.” We threaten them with our ability to enact our 2nd amendment rights. And we make them all enemies of the state. Maybe it’s just me, but it all just feels wrong. The Christianity of the Bible looks a lot different than the Christianity I see on social media.
To be honest I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where Jesus talks about the importance of our safety. What I do see is Jesus, who knew the hearts of those who would plot against Him (better than they did), going to the cross for them. I see Him allowing every single one of His Apostles (sans John) to be murdered for the sake of the Gospel. I see Paul acknowledging that everywhere he was called to minister the Holy Spirit warned him that in every city imprisonment and afflictions awaited him; he still went. I see Stephen, being stoned to death, keeping his eyes on Jesus while asking God not to hold his murders’ sin against them. I see Jesus telling us that the world will hate us on account of Him and that they hated Him first. And I see Him promising that in this world we will have trials and tribulation, but promised that He has overcome the world. I don’t see “have concern for your safety.”
There doesn’t seem to be a caveat to the command to love your neighbor as yourself. Or to Jesus telling us to that what ever we did for the least we did for Him. I don’t see an exception to Jesus compassion or a penchant for just serving the “good” Jews. In fact, the one person that Jesus notes as having faith unlike any He’s ever seen and heals a servant for is a Roman officer; the Jews’ enemy, His enemy. The Christianity of the Bible looks a lot different than the Christianity I see on Facebook.
The truth is, there is no American Christianity. It doesn’t exist. We don’t get to add anything to what Jesus said His followers would look like. Maybe we call it Americanity, but it isn’t Christianity. Christianity “loves their enemy and prays for those that persecute them.” Christianity “does justice, loves kindness, and walks humbly with God.”
I’m not suggesting that God doesn’t care for our wellbeing, I know God cares for us, but people are trying to divorce that from God’s deeper love for the world and all humanity. God cares for our safety, but not more than He desires all to be saved. His concern for us is a result of His love for us. God loves the Syrian refugees and our only response, as Christians, should be to extend love, justice, and compassion to them.
You can click HERE is you’re interested in groups that are helping.
Jordan Refugee is another amazing organization doing some great work to aid and support Syrians in Jordan.
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