Memo re: refugees. Gospel asks for the absurd.
What if the struggle against evil is not a struggle, but simply a matter of faithfulness. An old Quaker once remarked that it is often not a sacrifice to bear one’s burden when one is practicing faith. It’s like the apostle believed, what a joy it is to suffer on behalf of the cross. Perhaps it is unwise to use Paul as an example of healthy spirituality. That might beg the question for some – do we really believe that Jesus is a better example?
There is very little truth invested in the present argument over whether refugees should be welcomed into the United States. Where truth is in evidence, logic and sense is lacking. What is not lacking is the enthusiastic venom being spewed out of the mouths of some who call themselves Christians. At some point, we must recognize that the fight is best left to those individuals, for in terms of reflecting the will of God, there is no room for fighting. We are only called to witness to the grace and mercy of a God that I believe asks us only for love our neighbor and enemy alike.
There is ample evidence than human beings do not love our neighbors or enemies – that is the nature of our being. Yet there must be a time when we either admit that our belief in biblical truth and in the God of the Bible, and that our faith in Jesus is truly a narrative that we have faith in, or we must admit that we do not have faith. Americans use the Bible and religious language when it buoys our politically and socially preferred outcomes, but reject the narrative entirely when it challenges our sense of safety, comfort, or stability.
There is simply too much of the Bible that insists God wants us to care for aliens and strangers in the knowledge that God will arbitrate history in a manner that vindicates our faithfulness. There is too much biblical evidence that indicates God desires that we sometimes risk our own well-being on behalf of those who are victimized. It may make sense politically and for the good of our piece of mind that we reject refugees and err on the side of refusing entry to enemies; but to argue forcefully that God accepts such behavior as faithful behavior is indeed a lie.
Governments may have compelling reasons to restrict immigration and to reject shelter to those it deems a threat to security. However, the church has no such mandate or obligation. Our obligation is to bear our cross and feed, clothe, and love those in need. It is time for those who claim Christ, regardless of what government decides, to reflect the will of a God who we believe is revealed in Christ. If your neighbor seeks shelter, provide it as the Samaritan did. If your enemy confronts you, feed him and give him water, and in doing so, you will heap burning coals upon his head. To house Syrian refugees is to heap burning coals on the heads of those who claim terror as their god.
If government decides to accept them, the church, if it is a biblical church, must provide care. And the church should never, ever, espouse hatred of the enemy – even if it seems to be the American way. As for fighting – verbally or otherwise – that is a matter of the kind of politics that never, ever, reflect the cross.