A Gospel Welcome: Accepting Syrian Refugees

 

Yesterday I posted a blog about how a Texas governor has responded to accepting Syrian refugees.  I’ve had some interesting responses, mainly from my fellow Americans. I wrote my first blog after seeing numerous  responses from Christians in full support of the governors decision without any concern for what it means for refugees on the other side. I wrote the blog in response to this apparent discrepancy. I understand that the US is not as far into the process of relocating refugees as some of the European countries. Time needs to be given to sort out their own strategy and I hope this is what is behind the governors response (at least I hope so). That being said, I’m still concerned about the response of many Christians. We need to be reminded of the gospel and the cost it demands.

WE ARE ALL REFUGEES.

To deny refugees is contrary to the gospel. According to Eph 2 we are all in need of rescue. We cannot  save ourselves and need someone to come to our rescue, adopt us, give a new identity, and an opportunity for a new beginning.  And we don’t have it all together either, nor are we “safe” in our isolation from God. In fact, we are hostile enemies against the one who invites us in (Rom 5:8).  These refugees are not arriving with weapons or bombs attached. They are arriving with what little they own and stories of desperation. “But, what if somebody slips through the vetting process? Do we still continue to welcome?”  Yes, yes we do. Saul was a terrorists en route on a mission when we was met by an unexpected friend on the road. To deny that Jesus wouldn’t intervene today is to deny the power of the gospel.

THERE IS A COSTLY WELCOME

It cost the Father greatly to welcome you and I and it will be costly to accept Syrian refugees. As I said in my last post, love is risky and the gospel demands a costly love. Some responded to my post and said it’d be foolish to openly accept refugees without vetting. Of course, this would indeed be foolish.  It’s the job of government to protect its citizens, but it can’t eliminate risk completely. You may still face danger and you need to be ok with that.

I think Jesus himself understood this. Everything he did was risky! He even welcomed an enemy into his family of disciples (Judas). He knew the risk and he knew it would ultimately cost his life, yet he still treated Judas as family.  I don’t think that a costly welcome automatically equates to exposure of physical danger, but it does come with the risk. Jesus both avoided certain death at times (John 8:59), but also willingly accepted it on the cross. We must do the same.

The response of fear is natural, but it’s not biblical. Think of Saul’s conversion in Acts 9. He was an enemy of the church and the church struggled to take him in. When Ananias was told to visit the house of a terrorists named Saul, he understandably was hesitant. But still, Jesus told him to “Go.” If Ananias wasn’t willing to accept the risk, Saul would have remained in isolation and an instrument of God unused.

“But, WHAT IF WE DIE?

What if we do? Many consider missionaries willing to take the gospel to hard places such as the Middle East as gospel heroes- and indeed they are. These heralds understand the risk and understand the reward. Many look to them as examples of what it means to proclaim and display the gospel. If you applaud this work then surely you’d welcome the same people coming to you? Think of the money you’d save on airfare!  However, for some reason, when there is an opportunity for many who may not know Jesus to come to our shores, the sentiment changes, but why? If safety is your concern, then I’m sure it’s “safer” accepting refugees on your turf than landing in Syria on theirs.

Christian history tells us that the cost of following Jesus is high. We must be willing to welcome, even if our lives depends on it.

 

 

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