I didn't intend to write a "part 2" when I wrote the first one, but alas compassion is on my mind again.
Compassion is something that I've prayed for. Too often I find myself with more apathy than empathy, less willing to put myself in another's shoes than to sit in my own seat and bask in my own ignorance. In my readings in Mark lately I was challenged by Jesus' compassion for others. Not that He had compassion, but that He did something about it. His compassion didn't stop in His heart--He healed, He fed, He loved practically, He put His compassion on display for all to see.
There is a lot of quiet compassion for Paris this week. Some of us in the west are stewing in our compassion, wondering what we can and should do, if anything. Some of us are stewing a little louder than others, but I think many of us are mourning with France still tonight.
And I think I was fine with the quiet compassion until the politics started. That's when my compassion turned into anger. The Left and The Right using this tragedy to stand higher on their soapboxes than they did Friday morning. Gun control here and military this-and-that over there. When someone brought up the refugees something inside me broke, and I decided to write about it. I'm challenged by my own thoughts on this. I want to turn my compassion into more than just words, but for now here are my words. This is not my political stance, not my Christian stance--because Christian doesn't have a clear definition--, but my Jesus-follower stance. This is my Disciple-of-Christ stance on the refugees coming to America.
We are in a precarious situation. Regardless of which color you prefer or which side of the aisle you associate with, as believers in Christ we have an opportunity. There are refugees from another country coming into ours. Into our cities and towns. Whether you wanted this or not, none of us had much of a say--it's happening and that's that. (Daniel 4:17 comes to mind.)
Here we have a wonderful opportunity. With almost 100% certainty these people are not fellow-Jesus-followers. And I'm confident they don't feel safe or comfortable. They were forced out of their homes, across the border into another country with only what they could carry and possibly without all of their family members, losing them either to death or chaos. They're here unwillingly--trust me, these people wish they could be safe in their homes, but if their homes are still standing, they're not safe. These people don't speak our language, don't know where to find their staple food items, or how to navigate the grocery stores. These new neighbors are people who have the same basic human needs that you have, they just look and smell different from whoever lived in that house before. They're scared, confused, uncomfortable, and mourning.
They are mourning the loss of their homes and their lives. They might be mourning the loss of friends and family members, too. They're sad, lonely, and trying to make the best of a really, really bad situation.
Add to that, we don't want them. And it won't take long for these husbands and wives and children to realize they're not welcome here. Let's drop the politics for a minute and think about these people for what they are: people. My fellow believers, these are our new neighbors. The ones that Jesus commanded that we love as we love ourselves. And this is America y'all. We REALLY love ourselves, don't we?
Jesus said that those who mourn will be comforted. He also said that the last will be first and the first will be last. He said to serve "the least of these." He said that He came to give His life, and that anyone trying to save their life would lose it. So I challenge you to you be a friend to these people. To seek them out when they come into your city. To get to know them. To encourage your children to befriend their children, even when the other children won't. To share the love of Jesus with them and maybe, just maybe, you'll gain a brother or sister. Maybe you'll give them the true Hope they need. Maybe one day the person you choose to love tomorrow will tell a story to their grandchildren about how being sent out of their home in fear led them to the greatest Hope they'd ever known.
There's one more thing I want to say about all of this. There are people who call themselves Christians who are taking a stand against these refugees because they might be ISIS in disguise. I'm not going to say that you're wrong (or right). I am going to say it doesn't matter. IT DOESN'T MATTER. So what if one or more of the approximately 10 thousand people coming into our country are terrorists. So what if the one in your town is. Jesus didn't say "love your neighbor unless they're trying to kill you." In fact, He commanded us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). Paul charged us with blessing those who persecute us "bless and do not curse" (Romans 12:14). You could have the opportunity to befriend someone who not only doesn't have any hope, but has so put their hope in the lies of the enemy that they see murder as good. What an opportunity to share love!
My charge to us Jesus-followers (myself included) is to be fearless. Pray for boldness, just as they did in Acts 4: 23-31. Ask God to open doors, to give you the words that He has for the people you come in contact with. We have an opportunity, brothers and sisters, to show true, genuine love to 10 thousand people without leaving our own respective cities. I challenge you to fight for them and not against them. Get on your knees and pray for these people, wherever they are, that boldness would rise up in the Believers that surround them and that each and every one of them would come to know the Hope and Love that Jesus has for them.