The last few days, my news feed has been blowing up with articles and posts about Syrian refugees. The majority of them are rants about how unChrist-like everyone is who is leery about allowing thousands of refugees into the United States.

The thing is, I’ve gone back and forth over this issue. On the one hand, I get why people in the government have concerns. I get why citizens wonder if it is wise to let in thousands of people upon whom it is very difficult to do accurate background checks. After all, the governments primary job is to protect its citizens and to do what is best for national security. After recent events in Paris, I understand why some would feel uneasy about throwing open the proverbial doors without reservation.

On the other hand, when I look at the words in the Bible, it calls us to love radically – even those we consider our enemies. We are called to take care of the orphan and the widow and to stand in the gap for the oppressed. I believe those aren’t just suggestions either, but mandates we are all called to as believers. Jesus said we would be known by our love.

BUT, He also said we would be known by how we love each other. I am studying the book of James at the moment, and honestly, if you want your toes stomped all over, read James. He doesn’t really pull any punches. He doesn’t let believers get away with just spouting good intentions. He makes it really clear that you have to put your money where your mouth is.

Reading glasses on bible text

As I was thinking all of this over and contemplating why I felt so uncomfortable with all these posts and articles when in many ways I agreed with the basic opinion, I realized that part of it was much of it appeared to be one group of Christians shaking their collective finger at another group and categorizing who was more or less like Christ based on where they stood on this issue. Then, I opened my Bible this morning and read these words:

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural and demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy, and the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:13-1

The phrase that hit me right away was “in the gentleness of wisdom.” The one thing I noticed in many of the posts and articles was a harshness, a need to knock people down and glare down at them from this position of self-righteousness and often, hypocrisy. I have noticed this a lot, especially on social media – the need to be right often trumps the need to be kind. Like, if we are right, it’s okay to stomp all over other people and to denigrate their character and grade their spirituality.

I’m not against speaking truth. In fact, I firmly believe love without truth isn’t really love at all, but I think we need to be really careful when we start assigning levels of spirituality based on whether people agree with our opinion or not.

One of the arguments I have read the most is that we are allowing fear to make us unloving. And there is some truth there because yes, there are some people who do not want Syrian refugees in our country because they are afraid.

I don’t know about you, but there have been times I’ve been fearful. There have been times I’ve invited fear into the house of my soul and let it pull up a chair and get comfortable. I have even let fear influence my decisions.

If we are adamant about showing compassion to refugees who are afraid and suffering, shouldn’t we offer compassion to our fellow believers who may also be afraid, just for different reasons?

But we would be pretty narrow minded if we didn’t realize that some people are just more cautious by nature. The thing is caution isn’t a sin, and throwing blame and guilt on people who are cautious by nature isn’t very loving, either. Talking things through and sharing why we believe what we believe gets us a lot further than denigrating someone else’s faith.  Wisdom,, by James definition, is gentle, and that is coming from someone who appears to be pretty plain speaking.

The other thing that hit me was what heavenly wisdom actually is: pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering and without hypocrisy.

The things I’ve read haven’t been very peaceable. I mean, does anyone honestly think that telling someone they are not like Christ, don’t know how to love people and aren’t up to scratch spiritually is going to do much of anything except make them defensive?

And let’s talk about hypocrisy for a moment. Yes, as believers we are to be fearless. We are to have the mindset that if the worst anyone can do to us is kill our human bodies, then there is nothing to be afraid of because we have eternity with Jesus promised to us.

I know this in my head, and I believe it in my heart. But I’m also human. So are you, and I’m guessing if someone pulled a gun on you right now, you’d still feel afraid. I know I would.

I’m also guessing that you probably locked your door last night. Was that an indication that you have no faith and don’t love people?

As I contemplated our call to love radically, even our enemies, I found that even though my opinion leans more toward helping refugees and giving them sanctuary, I can’t really condemn those who don’t feel the same way – especially not based on the argument that they are more concerned with their own safety and comfort than I am.

Why? Well, because if I am honest, I regularly make my safety and my family’s safety a priority. I don’t pick up hitchhikers. I don’t have any homeless people off the streets living in my house. I have not moved to the worst neighborhood in town so I can be a light in the dark. I have not traveled to where the refugees are to offer help and support.

I’m just as taken up with my own comfort and safety as anyone else. As we clamor to help the refugees by allowing them to enter our borders, I have to ask myself, How much have I done for them so far? If this is important enough to attack other people’s character, how have I sacrificed to help the refugees up to this point?

The sad fact is I haven’t. I had meant to send those emergency blankets, but I got busy and it slipped away in the rush of my own to do list. Yeah – a fine example of loving others more than myself right? :\

Here’s the thing, if we really care about the refugees, we do not need the government to tell us we are allowed to love them. Ann Voskamp had a great post about things YOU can do as an individual to make a difference, everything from making your voice heard to the government to providing much needed practical items.

We live in dark times. People are hurting and suffering and they need us to show them Jesus with more than just lip service. What they don’t need, though, is believers tearing into each other because we don’t agree on exactly how to do that.

What are you doing to love others? I’d love to hear about it!

Blessings, Rosanne


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