Travel back in time with me, would you? Let’s go back to pre-Civil War America to a meeting of Christian minds voicing their thoughts on the plague of slavery upon our land. Most in the room are urging the Church to speak out against this national sin but then a hand goes up and someone says, “But Brothers and Sisters, this is an opportunity for us to show Christ’s love and bring Christ’s gospel message to the Africans without having to go to Africa. The Lord is bringing them to us!” How would you respond?
For my part, I would have a mixed response. True, God can work through the bad to bring glory to His name and good into our lives. However, I would not want it assumed that evil should continue because of the good that may or may not arise from it. And in no way would I discourage our government leaders from doing everything in their power to end a national wrong or protect our citizens from potential evil. The Lord has given government the authority of the sword for the purpose of disciplining and protecting the citizenry. Just as the Church has responsibilities that government should not project itself upon, so the Church should not attempt to assume federal duties either.
The status of Syrian refugees and illegal immigrants has prompted a debate about the boundary between being a Christian as well as a concerned citizen. I have watched the arguments ping pong across my Facebook newsfeed and have come to the frustrated conclusion that no one really knows what the right response should be. It sounds noble to say that we should embrace and love all of these people regardless if they are innocent or sinister. But do we live out that attitude towards the convicted pedophile behind bars or the drug-crazed homeless person on the side of the road or the raging gunman in the elementary school? Are we welcoming them into our homes for dinner or to our neighborhood block parties in order to show them Christ’s love? And honestly, how would we respond if our spouse, parent, sibling, or child was a victim of the next terror attack, blown apart by a suicide bomber or shredded by shrapnel?
Yes, we should love. Yes, we should share the gospel to all the world. But before we righteously rise to the challenge of embracing terrorists perhaps we should evaluate how well we are completing the easier assignments here at home. For example, maybe we should question why there is a welfare system. After all, doesn’t the Bible charge the Body of Christ with caring for the orphan and the widow among us? If we were really doing what we are called to do, wouldn’t it render moot the state welfare system? And how about the legal murder of babies in our society? Shouldn’t there be a constant urging of ALL Christians to do everything in their power to rid this diabolical trade from our land?
So do I have an answer about how we should handle the people from other nations desperately fleeing to a better life? Not really. If they do come to America, then we absolutely need to treat them rightly and provide them with compassionate care. Until then I believe we should urge our leaders to do what is in the best interest of our own citizens because that is their responsibility. After that we need to review God’s Word to remember our own responsibilities to those in need who already live amongst us.