Saturday, November 21, 2015

In Response to a Balanced View on Immigration

I deeply respect Pastor Kevin DeYoung.  Over and over again he has brought insight and wisdom and laughter for Matt and I as we've considered issues with him from his blog posts.  We are very grateful for this man, for his Biblical teaching and his writing.   He has more good thoughts for the immigration issue we face now and I like many of his points, like how we need to consider the importance of sovereign nation states.  And yet, this time, I want to humbly offer a point of disagreement, in the spirit of Christ-exalting discussion.  

Pastor DeYoung, wrote "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." 


It seems to me that Jesus' words in Luke 10:25-37 don't allow us to prioritize serving the safe neighbor near us and the neighbor in dire need, the victim of violence, equally. He doesn't balance them. 


Isn't Jesus' point in this parable that to love God and love your neighbor means to love the ones in need, even risking to enter into a situation where there's been violence?  A lawyer asked Jesus "who is my neighbor?"  Jesus didn't say it was the guy next door.  It is the one who was unjustly beaten and robbed.   The guy with the current, dire need. When the Samaritan saw the man all crumpled, helpless on the road... it could have been a trap.  He could have been the next victim.   Of course he was scared, but he entered into that mess and loved anyway. THAT is what Jesus said it means to love your neighbor.


And isn't the difference between the sheep and the goats (Matt 25:31-46) not that they cared well for the ones who already have much, are protected and safe, but that they cared for the ones who were in need:  hungry, thirsty, strangers? 


I don't see a way to Biblically argue for protecting our lives here.... that is precisely what the Gospel means.  It's totally radical and it's not a stitch easy.   And that's nothing to shy away from for any reason.  It's something a Christian could only do when ruled by the Hope of Heaven.  We have been called to lay down our lives for the needy.  


For many commenters (on DeYoung's post) who argued that Christians wouldn't be willing to invite refugee families into their own homes.... may they be proved utterly wrong.  


It is exactly because of God's promises and power and eternal truth that Christians ought to be the ones to be reckless and ridiculous in lavish generosity to meet needs for broken, devastated people in this hour.   Heaven is ahead of us!  


When we stand before our King, will there be more glory in having protected the "safety of the neighbor next door" or in risking to provide for the "safe passage of the [needy] neighbors far away?"  [additional word and bold is mine.]  


When our neighbors near and far see our lives, what message are we showing, telling them with our choice here?  If we're out to protect our safety here and now... what are we living for?  Or might it be the best, bold, bright witness to our neighbor next door that they see us open our doors to the needy?  For the world around us, in our country and beyond, to see Christians open their homes and provide for these refugees, it just might speak loudly enough of promises and the absolute certainty of God as our provision and safety, that our lives could be just what He commanded us to be...  like smelling salt to wake a near neighbor from slumber.  


(Now I'm moving to more thoughts on the issue, less directly related to DeYoung's post...)  


Did we think that sacrificial love would be easy? That Christians should only care for others as long as they're safe? Do we think that the Samaritan paid for his battered friend's food and lodging but it somehow didn't cost him anything?  No dust on his knees, no time spent, no money wasted?  Isn't self-sacraficing love to be the stuff that distinguishes the bride of Christ from the world and when does it ever come in a neat and tidy package that doesn't cost?  The Savior sure didn't balance His safety with my need for a safe passage to the Father when he hung on the cross for me.  

This is precisely the thing we aim to share with Muslim friends in imploring them to break free from the deception of Islam... (And let us not be blind with dazzling political correctness to say that Islam is not the reason for this terrorism.  The Koran drives this, the suras abound.  It is a grace indeed that most Muslims we know, most Muslims around the world are, as my husband says, "so much better than their religion.")  We want our friends to see that Muslims are fleeing these Islamic countries. They aren't heading to other Islamic countries (many of which have higher per capita income than ours) but they're heading towards the places that have been influenced by the Self-Sacraficing King and his love and his Word and ways. They are coming to the lands and the peoples who still, at least to the non-west world, are known as "Christian."  Let us take up the banner of Christ in this hour!


May Christ be shown in his people who would be radical enough to follow in his steps... the one who touched lepers and cuddled messy children, who walked into suffering, being beaten and crucified for us. We who follow Him ought to be dirty with the same stuff he was dirty with.  As Amy Carmichael wrote, we ought to be scarred...  not safe.  We ought to be willing to suffer, even rejoicing that we can suffer in serving the least of these...  as serving Him.  (Yes, I know the context of the disciples rejoicing was different, by I think it's still applicable, considering Matt 25:40, 45 and Hebrews 13:2 and all of Hebrews 11.  I believe it goes against the spirit of much scripture and the heart of God to say that these verses mean we should only show care for Christians in need.- Lev 19:34, John 4:1-42.)  


Yes, of course, we'll get wounded in this. (We'll be wounded somehow...  either as uninvolved Parisians or risk-taking, radical servants rescuing lives.  May it be that our suffering be for our King's glory!)   Isn't the climax of Hebrews 11 a long list of wounds received in the body of Christ?  May we, the church of Christ, welcome refugees in faith... as the ones who have gone before us in that chapter.  May we do it with our eyes on the Reward to come.  


Yes, of course it will take courage, power, wisdom, sacrifice. Is our God not sufficient to give us all this that we need? Is He enough, His word sufficient... to be courage and power for us?  If we think not, we have great reason to question the name by which we're calling ourselves.  


Lord, give us faith to walk in your ways, willing to suffer, to bind up the wounds of the broken, to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, to create jobs and even share our homes.  (Give me courage to act!  Give me Faith to follow you, Jesus.)  And may it result in eternal glory and eternal joy for us and for the lost... eternal glory for You.