Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Dear American Christian - God made refugees in His image, too.
The Syrian Refugee Crisis makes me really, really sad.
Seeing the responses to the crisis from my Brothers & Sisters in Christ is devastating.

I found myself avoiding the articles, blog posts, tweets, and updates at all costs. 
It's too sad. There's nothing I can do, anyway. It'll pass.
But still, I was convicted. & then I started reading - mostly shares & status updates from people that I know love The Lord, but their words were filled with so much anger & more than anything -  f e a r. 

Dear American Christian - you don't have to be afraid. In fact, God's word is riddled with scriptures about how when we're in Christ, we have a new nature. We don't have to be afraid. (2 Timothy 1:7). We're told that we can be strong & courageous in Him (Joshua 1:9), because He is with us wherever we go. & He also reminds us that we don't have to strive or fight for ourselves - we can rest because HE fights for us (Exodus 14:14). 
If all of this is true, then why can't we welcome refugees into America with open arms? Why must we slam the gates in their faces if we don't have to be afraid? Our God is good & He is sovereign - He isn't waiting with bated breath to see what we'll do about these hurting & broken people. He's already so far out ahead of us - He cannot be overcome, nor can He be surprised. If we don't have a spirit of fear, but one of power & of love - then shouldn't that love move us to invite the hurting & the broken into our neighborhoods?

Dear American Christian - pick up your cross & follow Him. The role description of a Christ-follower is simply this: to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). This Christ Jesus - He died. He was so full of love & grace & mercy towards an entire world that rejected Him, that He died a painful, bloody, gruesome death. If I really, truly understand all that He's done for me, if I really have any kind of grip on the type of mercy it takes to hang on a cross for a world that never wanted you - how can I NOT extend grace & mercy to a group of people who are hurt & broken from the crimes of civil war? 
The [harsh] reality is this: if I understand the grace & mercy that was extended to me, & then I choose to extend that grace & mercy to others, & as a result I am taken advantage of, or hurt, or even killed - all I've done is succeed in being like Jesus. I have walked in my calling - to pick up my cross & follow Him (Matthew 16:24).

Dear American Christian - you are not immune to nor above persecution. Jesus made it very clear that if you follow Him, you will experience persecution - just as He did. In fact, Christians in America are one of the few groups that do not experience extreme persecution for their faith. & now, we have a chance, as The Church, to really, truly be the hands & feet of Christ - & we're too afraid of the persecution that COULD happen to seize this opportunity. We - as a body - are paralyzed by fear. We are forfeiting our freedom in Christ to bow down to the idol of fear & anxiety. Here's the reality: Our hope is that the resurrection is true. That's it. So why am I so afraid? Is it because I hold my dreams about my future here on earth in higher regard than I do my dreams of being in the presence of my Savior? To be absent from the body is to be present with Christ (Philippians 1:21), so if following Him means risking my dreams & my future in the flesh - then so be it. My dreams for my future do not allow me to be disobedient - JESUS is my past, my present, & my future. Period.

Dear American Christian - you were the enemy once, too. Here's what I'm really getting at: if you are now in Christ - there was a time that you weren't. There was a time that you were His enemy, destined for death & a life apart from Him, & not only did He open the gates for you - He came running to get you (Romans 5:6-11). You had nothing to offer Him, nothing to give, no way to repay for all of the evil you'd done - & He still saved you. He loved you at your darkest.

If we really, truly grasped that - maybe we would be gentler. Maybe our posts wouldn't be so much about protecting ourselves & protecting our own, & much more about protecting those whom He loves - His creations, made in His image. 

Because is the truth is that at one point, each of us who know Him now were just as far away from Him as these refugees - & He came to get us anyway.

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