I didn’t want to write this, and even as I think about posting it, I feel sick.
As these thoughts started to gather in my mind a few days ago, my heart ached and shuddered and my stomach turned. People who profess to know and love God, reacting out of fear, loudly displaying their idols of comfort and safety. There is nothing like a little fear or threat to our best-loved idols, to lay bare the condition of our hearts. To top it off, there are those black and white photos of German Jewish refugees pulling up to our shores in boats, desperate, afraid, with nowhere to turn. And we turned them away, at a time when our citizens were, supposedly, at their bravest, most self-sacrificing, and most heroic in national history.
First of all, I don’t want terrorists in my country. Actually, I don’t want them anywhere. I don’t have any perfect answers that are going to appeal to and seem just and right to all. I don’t have any answers at all. But, if we claim to be Christians (and therefore we are known by our love), we can always look to the One who does give us wisdom, courage, and answers.
And sometimes we’re not promised answers, but expected to just ‘GO, AND DO THE SAME’ based on Jesus’s commands. Yes, we should be ‘wise as serpents’ and be good stewards of our resources and intellect… but we should not use our ‘discernment’ as an excuse to disobey when something infringes on our convenience. We should not prioritize our Americaness over being a Christian. We are not called to cling to our lives, but to lay them down, trusting in God’s sovereignty. *
And then there is the Jesus of the Bible who said a lot of hard things. This Jesus often flies in the face of the lies we hold as solid American wisdom.
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37 ESV
It’s almost like Jesus saw this one coming. A man is cruelly persecuted and oppressed by evil people. He is left for dead, completely without hope. Not once, but twice, important religious people go out of their way to avoid this man in his plight. Why? Because they feared for their safety, their own lives. And they didn’t want to be inconvenienced. The Samaritan in this story had EVERY REASON to believe this situation would bring him hardship, but HE DID IT ANYWAY. And then, Jesus tells us to go and do the same. It’s interesting how Jesus answered the man’s question. Jesus’ answer indicates that our neighbor is anyone you come across who has a need, regardless of how unsafe or inconvenient it might be to love them as yourself. For a fantastic breakdown of this parable, watch this.
Jesus said a lot of hard things. Don’t lay up treasure here on earth, put your money on eternity. We cannot serve two masters; we will hate one and love the other (Matthew 6). Not everyone who thinks they are saved actually knows Jesus. MANY, he says, are going to receive the most devastating news in all of eternity. (Matthew 7). If you aren’t willing to renounce your entire family and everything you have, including your own life, you can’t be His disciple (Luke 14; Mark 10.) We have to take up our cross and deny ourselves. Those who want to gain their life, must lose it (Matthew 16). It is really difficult to enter the Kingdom of Heaven! Especially if you hold a lot of earthly possessions (Mark 10). The way of Jesus is hard and narrow and few will enter. Choose the narrow gate anyway (Matthew 7:13-14).
We love to talk about the founding fathers and their intentions for this country, when it suits our agenda. I guess “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” sounds really noble, brave, and compassionate but doesn’t hold a lot of water when it comes down to it. We were once upon a time a nation built on tired, poor, oppressed human beings.
How can we #PrayforParis, but shun 750,000-plus desperate, frightened, persecuted people? We are all made in the image of God.
It’s like we live for this life alone or something. If we say we are in Christ Jesus, is not our hope set in eternity, and not the things of this world? Death is not the end of line for us.
We are not promised security, comfort, and ease, but rather suffering, hardship, and trials. In that, we are also promised a Savior who is right next to us in these things and the hope of redemption and restoration and the broken things being made new again.
We are coming to a place where the road is ever widening and the gate is ever narrowing.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14
*Thank you to Stephanie Evans & Kim Reading for your thoughtful contributions to this piece. If you are interested in extending your helping hand to save the lives of refugees, please consider donating to Preemptive Love Coalition. You can also use your purchasing power to make a difference, through purchasing gifts from their store.