By now, we have all heard about the Syrian refugee crisis. Many Christian leaders and teachers are encouraging Christians to “stand up and be the Church,” as Ann Voskamp puts it. But as I scroll through Facebook or search for information about the Syrian refugees on the Internet, I also see dire warnings about how this refugee crisis is really a Trojan Horse trick of Islam to infiltrate countries and take over the world.
It can all be confusing and scary for good, Christian people who love God and the United States of America and people and freedom.
I read those warnings about how dangerous it is to take in millions of people with different values and beliefs, some who even hate everything about our way of life and worldview. It all makes sense. It is risky. Maybe Muslims are hoping to take advantage of this situation and take over Europe. I don’t know.
At times like this, when I feel like my values are colliding within me and confusion muddles my brain and there is so much I just don’t know, I go back to what I do know.
I know that my job is to love God and other people. (Matthew 22:37-40) Everything I do should hinge on these two commands – Love God with everything I’ve got, and love other people as much as I love myself. There are people displaced from their homes and in great need of love in the form of housing and food and clothes and a welcoming smile. These are actual people. People whom God loves and for whom Jesus died. My job is to love God and love them.
I know that God wants me to live in faith, not fear. Over and over in the Bible, we are encouraged, “Don’t be afraid.” When Peter stepped out onto the water, he was OK as long as he operated in faith; but the minute fear took over, he sank. Our love for these people is fortified by our faith in the One who created them and must not be diminished by fear of some grave what-if. When the Church is directed by fear and fear-mongering tactics, the Church will sink.
I know that as wickedness increases, love tends to decrease. Matthew 24:12 warns us about this. But God tells us not to let our love grow cold. When evil seems to be all around us, our impulse is often to build walls and protect ourselves. We forget about loving others and move into a mindset of self-preservation. God knows this about us, which is why He specifically warns us not to let our love grow cold. Our love is our mark of identity to the world. They will know we are Christians by our love. This is how the Gospel message spreads. Love. I want to stand firm in love and be open to love, even when it seems dangerous to do so.
I know that perfect love drives out fear. (1 John 4:18) And the person who lives in fear isn’t being made perfect in love. What is the antidote to fear? Love. Which swings back around to the first truth I know. The more I love God and other people, the less fear controls my life.
All of these truths tie together and guide me in how to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis and the possibility that some would use this situation for wicked and evil schemes. Is there a risk? Absolutely. There always seems to be a risk with love. Are evil ones plotting and scheming? Probably so. But I can’t let my love grow cold as wickedness rises up.
Let me be clear. I am not saying that if we love these refugees and take them in and show them love, everything will be sunshine and rainbows. I’m not saying that no jihadists will sneak through and try to harm us. No. I am saying that I believe God is in complete control and His purposes are greater than any of that. I am saying that I would rather love and risk physical death than build walls and harden my heart, which is a certain death of love and faith and the message of the Gospel. And without love and faith and the message of the Gospel, what good is life?
This is where the rubber meets the road. My love for God and other people and my faith in Him must be greater than my love for the United States of America and temporal freedom and our way of life.