Mention the word “refugee” today and everybody’s got an opinion. We can add that to our list of “off-limit” words this holiday like “gay,” “Democrat,” “Republican,” “Trump,” “Hillary,” and “Muslim,” among others. (Feel free to add to the list!)
It seems that if you mention how sad you are for the plight of the refugees then you must be a bleeding heart with very little insight into the geopolitical ramifications. If you express any form of concern regarding the refugees than you are seen as a cold-hearted person with no sympathies for the plight of the suffering. (You probably hate baby seals too!)
Is there any balance that can be found as to how we understand the present “refugee” situation? I’d like to make a few suggestions.
Mark 12:30-31: ‘“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Place yourself in their shoes
We had a firsthand view of the refugee crisis here in Hungary. We had the privilege of serving many of the tens of thousands who crossed through our country. Most of them were honestly looking for a life without the fear of death, but not all. We took a strong approach to loving our neighbor, which in this case meant the refugee. We didn’t do it because they were all innocent people looking for a better life. I have no idea what their motives were, not every single one of them. We did it because Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves.
I have five children (four kids and a son-in-law) whom I would do anything for. There are no borders or laws that would stop me from getting my family out of harm’s way, if at all possible. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not talking about solutions to this crisis. I am talking to Christians about keeping a balanced approach. Put yourself in their shoes. Before you villainize the refugees consider their situation. What would you do for your family? Love your neighbor as yourself.
The Devil wants to pour the fuel of fear into the engine of hate. Don’t let that happen in your life. Fight the urge to hate with love.
Know Thy Enemy
Ephesians 6:12: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Muslims are not the enemy. The Devil is. I deplore the kind of violence that we are seeing by terrorists all over the world. It is evil and it should be stopped. But Christians, Islam is not enemy #1—the Devil still is.
A balanced approach includes a deeper prayer life. Do we really believe in the power of prayer? What’s going to break the stronghold the Devil has? We must seek victory in prayer!
We need to pray against this stronghold of Islam.
We need to pray for our leaders to have wisdom and clarity.
We need to pray for our churches to stay gospel-centered.
Prayer is one of our God-given offensive weapons. Use it.
1 Timothy 2:1 “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men.”
Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
Prudence without a mixture of evil—that’s the idea here. Some of us are touting wisdom, while others are pushing gentleness. Jesus encouraged both and He did so within the context of His disciples going out on mission. He was sending them out to be both wise and innocent.
It’s harder to be opinionated once you are engaged in the issue. Most of you might not get the chance to serve refugees but you can engage in this battle through prayer. Start praying and watch God change your heart. That doesn’t mean you will think we should invite everyone into America! But it does mean that you will begin to love people that you might not have the chance to meet.
Maybe you will have a chance to be further engaged with refugees. Do it. Take the risk. Maybe you can introduce them to Christmas in America—show them the love of God. No fruitcakes though!
It’s harder to hate when you engage in the issue.
God’s wisdom has engaged the world. Follow His pattern.
Fight the Urge to Hate
Terrorism has created a global fear. We are all a little bit scared and this is probably healthy in the current climate, but don’t let fear produce hatred. That’s what the Devil wants.
The Devil wants to pour the fuel of fear into the engine of hate. Don’t let that happen in your life. Fight the urge to hate with love. Virtually every major news outlet is reporting that the mastermind behind the Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, drove to Hungary where he recruited migrants to join his fight. At the very least what seems clear is that he was right here in my city and at the same train station where all of us were at.
This story will keep evolving as we get more information but here’s what I know so far. This was everyone’s worst nightmare. It was assumed that terrorists would use this open refugee highway as a means of getting into Europe and it appears this has happened.
The crisis at the Keleti Train Station in Budapest, Hungary didn’t last very long. Apparently long enough for a known terrorist to come and recruit. Sad. This makes me mad.
At the same time we were fighting to express the love of Jesus to these people, someone else was fighting hard to kill. His efforts definitely got more media attention but that’s ok.
Don’t forget that fighting for God’s kingdom will go largely unnoticed in the world we live in, but God sees. I don’t regret for one minute loving my neighbors as I love myself.
God help us to be balanced in all things and extreme in love.