7 Thoughts on The Gospel & Syrian Refugees

In the aftermath of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, there’s been unprecedented – and violently polarized – attention upon the 4 million Syrian refugees currently fleeing their war-torn country in which ~250,000 people have been killed in a bloodbath civil war. From what I’ve seen, Christians seem to be some combination of confused / outraged / scared / ambivalent when it comes to what we should want to see happen.

Without taking time to thoughtfully piece this together, here are 7 quick, bulleted thoughts on the the gospel & Syrian refugees…

The responsibility of governing authorities. It is the responsibility of governing authorities to protect the people they govern (Rom 13:1-7). That’s not the only thing to be weighed, but everyone must acknowledge it as a thing to be weighed. This is a weighty responsibility, and because of it, I understand if faithful and earnest Christians disagree on this issue.

We worship a Middle Eastern Refugee. When you put up your Nativity scene this Christmas, you are depicting a family of middle-eastern refugees in need of shelter. We worship a man who was a middle eastern refugee.

The gospel is politically confusing. In a radically politically polarized culture, one of the most validating aspects of the gospel is that it’s politically category-defying. If the gospel truly is divine revelation from outside human culture, we should expect it to critique (and affirm) every human culture at some points. And that’s exactly what we find. Faithful Christians have historically been politically confusing. Embedded into our souls is a belief in the sanctity and definition of marriage, the intrinsic value of all human life, and biblical sexual ethics – issues typically politicized as conservative. But also embedded into our souls is a deep care for the poor, racial reconciliation, and love for the immigrant and sojourner – issues typically politicized as progressive. It is exactly the fact that the gospel transcends the existing categories (liberal and conservative) that moves people to consider the possibility of the Christian gospel’s transcendence. This is not to say that Christians should be politically disengaged or that Christians shouldn’t have clear voting convictions. But every Christian must be careful not to lose our category-busting nature by forming a deeper allegiance to American conservatism (or progressivism) than the gospel.

Christians aren’t called to ask, “What is safest?”, but “What is most loving?” On a passage that feels relevant, Bible commentators have long noted that when The Good Samaritan man stopped to help the Jew beaten and left for dead, he was putting himself in danger. If he was “left for dead” but still living, the violent perpetrators had to still be close by. Risky love is Jesus’ call. And aren’t you glad Jesus himself didn’t ask, “What is safest?“, but “What is most loving?” when facing The Cross?

A consistently pro-life ethic. Because we believe in the intrinsic value of all human life as image-bearers of God, Christians are ardently pro-life… sometimes selectively. It strikes the average person as just a *smidge* inconsistent to boldly declare “WE ARE PRO-LIFE!” in one breath, and “SEND THOSE REFUGEES BACK TO THE STARVING, WAR-TORN COUNTRY FROM WHICH THEY CAME!” in the next.

We were born refugees. We were born-again refugees. Unless you’re of Native American descent, your family came immigrant to this country, many from war-torn lands. But further, if you are a Christian, you’re a spiritual refugee. 1 Peter begins, “Beloved, I urge you as foreigners and exiles” and Philippians reminds us our deepest citizenship is elsewhere: “But our citizenship is in heaven, and we eagerly await a Savior from there.” In a very profound sense, a Christian shouldn’t be able to look into the face of a refugee without seeing themselves.

The Scriptures’ unique call to love the foreigner and immigrant. Throughout the Scriptures, God has a special heart for immigrants because he loves the vulnerable. See HERE, HERE, and this warning in Malachi: “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the foreigner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.”