The bombings and terrorist activities which occurred in Paris last weekend were horrible. Truly horrendous acts of evil which only give celebration to evil groups like ISIS. I was saddened as I saw it unfold, yet at the same time I praised God that they were able to act quickly and arrest those responsible or confirm their deaths.
Surely mass outrage from around the world has made waves throughout populations on every continent and several people, some even my own friends, hysterically called to arms against the Muslim people. In fact in several countries, including the US, Canada, throughout Europe and the UK, Muslims are being attacked.
That is also sickening to me. The other day, I wrote this on my Facebook page:
I abhor generalizations, especially of people groups. Muslims are not terrorists, extremists may be terrorists. Let us not marginalize an entire population based on the relative few who are terrorists. Jesus commands us to love those who hate us, to pray for those who persecute us. I am saddened by all that’s happened and I absolutely #PrayForParis but I’m also praying for all those other Muslims who’ve been thrown under the bus (it’s also how I feel when Westboro gets a headline for “all” Christians, or crusades of “Christians” in other countries who massacre others – several countries in Africa have experienced “Christian terrorism” in recent years).”
This is reminiscent of September 11, 2001 when Muslims within the US feared leaving their homes because they were being attacked on the street simply because they’re Muslim.
Not only has lashing out against Muslims occurred once again but now, at least within the US, specific States are declaring the refusal to let Syrian refugees have solace within their borders and Christians around the country are celebrating this as the best possible decision to ensure our safety & security. I get it – fear is a powerful drug and we live in a world where fear is everywhere – yet let’s put this into perspective.
Upon hearing of the attacks in Paris over the course of one day, one refugee named Ghaled, 22, who was a dental student at the university in Damascus prior to fleeing his home country, made a one-sentence statement that should push reality forward while zealous fear moves back. He said,
What’s happening to them is happening every day in Syria, 100 times per day for five years, so we know what that means.” — Ghaled, 22, Syrian refugee
These refugees are fleeing real terror, real war, real death of hundreds of their people every single day by the same terrorists who attacked Paris.
How does helping only victims in westernized and allied countries, while victims in “lesser” countries who face the same (or actually MORE) of the atrocities and displacement than we have, portray the mandate of Jesus to doing good – loving others, meeting needs, sharing the gospel of reconciliation?
How does closing all borders in fear, refusing refugee aid, and lashing out against all Muslims, help further the Kingdom of God and save souls from death?
Let us not idolize security or safety so much that we’re unwilling to offer it to people groups that have rarely experienced it.
You see, we have a big God who asks that we trust Him. We have a God who has a heart for those that no one else does. We have a God who dined with those afflicted by leprosy, “evil” tax collectors, and prostitutes. We have a God who cares for Muslims and wants them to come to the saving knowledge of Him.
One of the biggest ways to share God’s care for them is to help them. Meet their physical needs, give them safe passage and secure beginnings to start a new life, and God uses those opportunities to touch the hearts of the lost.
Do you not remember all the parables where Jesus met real physical needs and in turn was worshipped unabashedly?
And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.” — Matthew 15:30-31
He fed thousands of them (Mark 6:30-44); He healed the blind (John 9); He healed the lame (John 5:1-17); He healed the sick (Matthew 8). He raised the dead (Mark 5:21-43). The list goes on and on and on.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.” — Mark 6:53-56
Jesus met needs all around him and in every place. We are called to do likewise.
Do you not remember all the times in Acts and other epistles in the New Testament where the apostles and disciples met real physical needs and that extended to the salvation of their souls? (Acts 5:12-16)
When we reject those in need, especially entire populations of people, simply because 8 people – only 1 of which was registered as a Syrian refugee – decided to kill themselves in extravagant ways and take as many people as possible with them, we are denying one of the most profitable means to expand God’s Kingdom.
So far, out of 4,287,293 refugees, only 1 has been a part of a terrorist attack. Does it seem like punishing the 4.25 million refugees for that 1 is a good thing to do?
Syrian refugees are not the enemy. Muslims are not the enemy. Satan and evil are the enemy.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wage war against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.
To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” — Ephesians 6:10-20, emphasis mine
In the above passage from Ephesians, look how many commands there are to be strong, to stand, to put various types of armor, etc. God wants us to embolden ourselves in the fight against evil. Fighting evil also means bringing about the “gospel of peace”.
Better yet, and what should drive out our fear of welcoming and helping refugees, is that we have a God who is victorious. He has already won the battle over evil. No matter how prevalent the darkness in this world is, our Almighty God has our eternal futures written down and we get to party with Him, even if we suffer while on this earth.
So, before you jump on a bandwagon that says, “YES! Let’s close all borders and not allow refugees to have refuge,” please consider the heart of God toward these people. Please consider the deeper oppression and suffering they have endured during their entire lifetimes while we sit in some of the most secure lands in the world.
God loves them. We ought to as well. Loving them means meeting their needs and helping them.