I was going to write a blog post about the nauseous horror I feel every time I go on Facebook and see Christians praising Republican leaders for refusing to allow Syrian refugees into our country. I was going to talk about how of course some terrorists will take advantage of the situation, but how….I cannot fathom why that would keep us from helping people in need.
I say “I was going…” because I found a blog post that said everything I wanted to say. Consider taking the time to read Klinton Silvey’s blog post “Something Christian Millennials ‘Don’t Get.'” And if you won’t take the time, here are a few passages that especially resonated with what I wanted to say.
I was raised in a small-town Baptist church. I was taken there Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday nights. I don’t care how much you like to goof off, if you spend that much time in a church, you’re going to pick up on major themes whether you want to or not.
One of those major themes is that we should be courageous. Another is that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. Another is that life is eternal.
These themes are all over the Bible. “Be strong and courageous,” God told Joshua. “Perhaps you are here for such a time as this,” Esther’s uncle said. “Do not fear those who can kill the body,” Jesus said.
Courage, love, and eternity. Those are the hallmarks of my Christian upbringing too. We are free to love courageously because our hope is not in this world – we are eternal beings, and death is just a doorway into the next phase of our existence.
Christian heroes are almost always martyrs, people who believed so strongly in advancing God’s kingdom they were willing to die (either through a refusal to renounce Jesus or through service to the diseased). Admitting Syrian refugees into our country is nowhere near that level of immediate danger, and yet fear has taken us over.
Is it possible that a small percentage of them want to kill us? — Let me counter that question with another question:
Does it matter?
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a post Columbine, post 9/11 world that we youngsters think this way, but refugees or no refugees, some folk are getting murdered in the United States today. Refugees or no refugees, there will be another school shooting somewhere. Refugees or no refugees, terrorists will find a way. Life is terminal. You WILL die.
“Does it matter?” This is the question that has been running through my head for the last few days. Why in the world would we allow fear of a few terrorists keep us from helping people in need? One of my Facebook friends wrote a post that said, “I’d rather take in a refugee and lose my life than refuse a refugee and lose my humanity.” I couldn’t agree with him more.
In the end, Silvey’s blog post poses the same challenge that I would like to issue:
If you want to curb my youthful enthusiasm, here’s all you need to do:
Open up a Bible and make a convincing argument that Jesus wants us all to be safe more than he wants us to reach the lost and help the hurting.
I worship a God who left the safety of heaven to become human and to love dangerous men and women, knowing they would kill him, knowing that his love was more powerful than all their hate and fear. I am so much weaker and more frail than the Son of God, but he is my role model, and I believe his Spirit is in me, making me more like him every day.
So with Jesus in mind, I choose love over fear. Let the Syrian refugees in. And on a personal note, all of this has only made me more eager to go to Greece, confident that risking danger in pursuit of love will put me in touch with a rich heritage of like-minded Christian heroes and heroines. I was raised to be courageous, full of love, with my eye on eternity, and I refuse to let my beliefs be compromised by fear.