Refugees In Crisis
2016-01-05
The Syrian refugee crisis will go down in modern history as one of the greatest crisis events of our time. There are no shortage of opinions, political maneuverings, rhetoric or theological discussions on the issue. But this is something greater than a simple issue. This is a matter of life and death. Not only is this a matter of life and death but it is a matter of eternal proportions. 

We live in a culture of incredible fear. I believe that fear has always been a driving force in human interaction, but I wonder if the age of information has fanned the flame of fear into a blazing fire? And yet, this culture of fear is an opportunity for the Christian Church to share the peace of Christ. But is the narrative of peace the narrative of the Evangelical Church in America?

In my experience, fear, rather than compassion, has driven the rhetoric and opinions of many professed Bible-believing Christians. It would be hard to find greater evidence of fear driven rhetoric within the church today than the response many Christians have had to the ever-changing culture and the biggest news stories of our days. One of the greatest examples of Christian fear has been in response to the Syrian refugee crisis. 

Fear drives the Christian to ignore the crisis. Fear drives the Christian to speak about policies as more important than compassion. Fear drives the Christian to agree with presidential candidates who desire to build a wall around a country rather than seek to improve the condition of humanity. Fear drives us to deceive ourselves into thinking that providing a place of refuge for hundreds of thousands of people is somehow less important than our own safety. 

Jesus had no place for this kind of fear because he was the love incarnate that casts out all fear. Jesus told us to love our enemies. Jesus told us to out-give those that would mean to steal from us. Jesus was compassionate towards refugees with leprosy, with blindness, and with social disease. 

Did you now that the entire Bible is about the story of refugees? In this story, the refugees don't deserve to live in the land of God. These refugees fail at every responsibility they are given. When they are told to cultivate the world they bring sin into it. When they are saved from destruction in a great flood, they get drunk and angry with God. When they are brought out of slavery they are dying to go back into it for convenience. When they are given a land by the hand of God they set up new gods to worship. When God himself comes to this earth and lives in their midst they kill him. 

But God never turns his back on the refugees. Instead when they sinned he offered a Redeemer. When they complained he was long suffering. When they killed him he rose for their righteousness and gave them eternal life. The entire Bible is about how God has loved refugees. 

How should we respond to the crisis in Syria as a Christian, as a refugee who has been rescued, and as a fellow sojourner who is a stranger in this world longing for the Kingdom of God to make all things new? We can respond by seeing the parallels of our own refugee status and how God has responded to us - without condition - but wholly by his grace to make us his own - to make us citizens in a land that we don't deserve. 

I would encourage all Christians to respond to this crisis as we should any crisis by doing three things. Pray. Research. Act.

Pray for those who are hurting. There are many brothers and sisters in Jesus that are running for their lives. Additionally, God is bringing many people to know Jesus through this crisis. Pray that God would continue to work in the hearts of the refugees, that those who know Christ would remain in him, and that the workers and organizations on the ground would be able to sustain and persevere. Pray that our world leaders would be compassionate and wise as they figure out how to help the refugees. 

Research the crisis both in fact and from a theological perspective. Does your opinion reflect more of Christ or more of your favorite entertainment news outlet? Before we react to any crisis with fear we must filter our response through the Gospel. Safety is important but it is not the driving factor in Christian love. Security is important but it is not a key component of Christian mission. Perhaps if we were to look at this crisis as an opportunity for the Gospel rather than a threat to our American Dream we might begin to see how God is working more clearly.  At the very center of our Christian faith is the fact that God has made refugees his people. 

In addition to researching your theology, make sure you research the facts rather than rhetoric. The truth of the matter is that allowing refugees into our country or into Europe will not have the devastating effect that many have said it will have. Do not let your heart be troubled by fear. Rather let your heart be driven to compassion - read the facts, filter them through your theology and compassion will not be far behind.

Finally, act on what you have heard, seen and prayed about. There are ways for us to get involved with organizations that are helping the refugees directly. Let us be encouraged to put feet to our faith and power behind our theology by acting on conviction. I have included several links (thanks to the Village Church in Dallas) that may be helpful if you would like to find out more about the crisis and determine whether or not God is calling you to get involved. 

Christian, you have no reason to fear. Jesus is still Lord and still reigns as our King.


GET INVOLVED:

Samaritan's Purse
Pioneers

GET THE FACTS:

In a Nutshell Video (a short video that explains the crisis and offers facts addressing our fears)
World Vision Facts About Syrian Refugee Crisis
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