Last week one of our readers asked me to write about “how Christians should approach the current political climate and the Syrian Refugee?” I responded that I would think about. And I have been.
Like most issues of national and international importance there are several different valid viewpoints. And many are steeped in politics. Too often Christians allow their political views to influence their attitude and response in a negative way to those who differ. I have noticed some very sharp exchanges on facebook among brethren on this issue.
National religious leaders from various groups have expressed their views and not all agree. Stephan Bauman, CEO and President of World Relief said we need to “ground ourselves in love and open our arms to these refugees.” Rich Stearns, President of World vision US agreed saying, “Instead of fearfully turning away from the Syrian refugees, we need to see the amazing opportunity we have to show the love of Christ.”
However, author and theologian, Kevin DeYoung was quoted in the Gospel Coalition with this comment. “The answer is not as easy as fear versus compassion. Christian charity means loving the safety of the neighbor next door at least as much as loving the safe passage of the neighbor far away.” Franklin Graham, President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, was even more outspoken. “We cannot allow Muslim immigrants to come across our borders unchecked while we are fighting this war on terror. If we continue to allow Muslim immigration, we’ll see much more of what happened in Paris–it’s on our doorstep.”
No doubt the terrorist attacks in Paris as well as attacks in other parts of the world are fomenting some of the fears regarding the Syrian refugees. And there are plausible arguments to be made for that position.
So what is a Christian to do? To believe? To feel? How should we respond? Is it wrong for Christians to hold a position against admitting Syrian refugees? It’s very confusing when we hear conflicting reports and opinions, depending on what politicians you listen to and which new channel you watch.
As I reflect on these issues and consider my response, it is tempered with thought of this week’s posts that have featured the word of the week, Sympathy, 7 Guidelines for Giving, and yesterday the verse of the week (James 1:22) on being a doer of the word and not just a hearer.
While the Bible is being used by both the left and the right to prove their positions, one principle is often overlooked and too often violated. The Bible makes a distinction between the role and responsibility of individual Christians and the government of which they are citizens. For example, Romans 12 warns against individuals taking vengeance on their enemies, however, the next chapter teaches the God-ordained right of government to execute the evil doer.
In fact, when you consider the 3 great entities ordained by God, the home, the church, and the government, each has a specific function to perform. Unfortunately we have intermingled the role of the church and government. The church was founded by Divine decree and given a spiritual mission. Governments are established by humans and serve a secular purpose.
There is no conflict between Christians practicing the golden rule, loving their neighbor, and seeking to do good to all men with our government insuring domestic tranquility, providing for the common defense, and promoting our general welfare by protecting us from terrorists and defending our borders. On the other hand, if our government allows refugees to immigrate to America, we can use it as an opportunity to demonstrate the spirit of Christ to our fellow man.
This issue ought not to divide Christians, cause ill will toward others, or detract us from our God-given mission and ministry. Putting our personal political opinions aside will ease tensions, promote unity and demonstrate to the world the love of Christ.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman