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DSC_0406Just as the  Starbucks fiasco about those blasted red mugs began to cool, Paris exploded. The Middle Eastern Refugee Crisis came barreling back. This post began as a satirical piece about the red mugs and the refugee crisis and radical Jesus, but with the division in our world right now, I did some editing.  The last thing we need is more cynicism and hate.

What follows are 3 points often given by those less eager to welcome refugees.

I respond with answers based in a core belief that the Christian God that we serve is missional (continuously in pursuit of his created ones), is grace-filled, is just (and that means actively in pursuit of justice for all of his creation), and chooses to redeem the world in synergy with (thru / by means of / together with) his people who are the body of Christ.

I fully acknowledge that from the world’s perspective, this God-activity is nonsensical, radical, recklessly passionate and often extravagant.

I also believe that the world is watching our Christian response and somewhere in every human heart there is a kernel of hope that this Jesus is really who he said he was.

I dislike the lines that we draw so easily with our speech: the believers and the non-believers, the refugees and the safe people, the Christians and the other faiths – as if somehow, we were not all made from the same lump of dirt-grey clay and redeemed by the same blood-stained Lord.

The Refugee Crisis Is A Plot

A mastermind is coordinating the movement of large numbers of non-Christian people into the West as part of a larger plan to transform Europe and North America. 

God, how I hope so.

I hope …  No. I believe – that this unprecedented movement of the Middle East into Europe is a God-plot. Nations where Jesus had to show up in dreams are suddenly present in places where his name is freely spoken. These are God-ordained windows, kairos moments,  where Jesus in the actions and the attitudes of Christ-followers everywhere can be clearly seen.

Nearly 1.5 million people from countries where owning a Bible is illegal or proclaiming Christ as Savior is punishable by death have suddenly shown up on christianized Europe’s doorstep. What an amazing chapter God is writing. Just as Europe and then North America began to see themselves as post-Christian, the Author of our salvation fans the waning embers of our faith.

It is a plot – an incredibly significant movement across Europe. Let us stop crediting dictators and politicians for the uprooting and transplantation of souls into the heart of our homelands. God should get all the glory for this story line.

If you do not like how he is sovereignly scripting the continuing tale of his good mercy, address your complaints to the Author. I strongly suggest that you read the story of Jonah first. (Bring something that provides shade and, dare I say, a red cup with beverage.)

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The Refugee Crisis Will Affect Western Comfort

With so many refugees flooding EU and American systems, household affluence will be affected, social systems compromised, education deteriorate, and crime increase. 

This is possible although there are significant and reputable reports that make a case for positive outcomes for western economies and societies.

Let me be the unfortunate one to ask: Where did we ever get the idea that safe and affluent lives were God’s guarantee or even his plan for us? In fact, if we use the life of Jesus as a template, we should expect to know the instability of life as a refugee, homelessness, poverty, rejection, and death.

Affluence also has a down-side. It nurtures apathy and it has created rampant materialism and individualism with a by-product of loneliness and depression in many cultures. The western church has long struggled with a forgotten ability to live in community with one another – we split over generational music preferences.

In contrast, Middle-Eastern cultures are highly hospitable. Dare I say that they reflect a key component of the character of the God-head and Christ himself, which is radical hospitality?

This is not an either / or paradigm: as in, either affluence or community. The simple point: we have something valuable to learn from the infusion of highly hospitable societies. There is something of eternal wealth to be gained in the meshing of our lives with one another – across cultures, across skin color, even across religious identity. We are richer for our diversity.

Would we be a better reflection of the God we say we serve if we responded to the stranger with welcome? And, might it be possible that God himself has sent the stranger to your door?

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The Refugees Are Radical Extremists.

There are large numbers of young men who will fill Europe and the US from within and then attack – a Trojan Horse. Or, the demands for mosques and Shariah Law will transform towns into Arab communities. Either way, the West is lost. 

It is undeniable that the pilgrimage of so many refugees from the East continues to permanently change the landscape of the West.

It is possible that extremist elements exist amidst the masses.

It is true that radical extremists have vowed to destroy what they see as the ‘infidel west’ and establish a Caliphate.

Their stated purpose is Armageddon.

All true.

Terrorism is now our reality. This is nothing new for Christianity, it is just new for western Christianity.

So, we would be wise to understand the full arsenal of weapons that come against us.

We spend a lot of time worrying about a number of extremists mixed into the general refugee population but we ignore a much more powerful threat.

When desperate people run from a radicalized war zone towards the ‘Christian’ west and they find christians unwelcoming, harsh, hateful, fearful, and suspicious, what happens? When they find barbed wire and fences? When they see self-preservation get in line before compassion? When they read Facebook posts? And, they do read English. What better means of radicalizing a population could there be?

What better means of radicalizing young people including western young people?

To strip away the last hope that somewhere in the world, radically self-giving, recklessly passionate, and extravagant Love exists …

Somewhere in the whisper of our history is the voice of Ghandi, ‘I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.’

Perhaps that Trojan Horse is a little less obvious but so much more effective.

A Jesus Response

Can I be honest for a moment?

This post is not for the people applauding the 30 governors who closed 30 American doors.  These words will not change their minds.

This post is not for the politicians or the leaders of countries. Their ears will never hear my tiny chirp.

This post is to honor the journey of courage that so many have set upon – to honor their intense pursuit of hope and their determination that people are still good.

This post is for Jesus-believers of every color and language. Let us be the Church – known by our love.

This post is for those who do not believe in the Christ that I proclaim. There is room at our table – no coercion, no manipulation. We are many who would love to simply walk with you as friends – hear your story as our toddlers play together and our coffee grows cold.

This post is for my children and my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren who will inherit a world from us. I want them to know, long after my smile has faded, that I raised my voice for the voiceless and my feet journeyed beside the weary traveller. I expect you to do the same.

This post is for my Lord because I believe that a radically self-giving, recklessly passionate, and extravagant Love exists … and his name is Jesus of Nazareth.

Thank you Jesus for giving this refugee a home.

#refugeeswelcome

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48 thoughts on “Three Great Reasons To Reject Refugees (and Starbucks)

  1. Reblogged this on Svědek and commented:
    This is an excellent piece on the refugee crisis encouraging all believers to live out the reality of what we confess. Written with passion and honesty – with a touch of humour slipped in, “If you do not like how he is sovereignly scripting the continuing tale of his good mercy, address your complaints to the Author. I strongly suggest that you read the story of Jonah first. (Bring something that provides shade and, dare I say, a red cup with beverage.)”

  2. “Nearly 1.5 million people from countries where owning a Bible is illegal or proclaiming Christ as Savior is punishable by death have suddenly shown up on Christianized Europe’s doorstep. What an amazing chapter God is writing.”
    It seems to me some Christians fail to understand what is all ready written, and that, in scripture. The old Testament is full of the story of Gods people walking away from His Law, Teaching and Presence (Covenant/Contract). The consequence of doing this is always the same,. They were then handed over to their enemy to be ruled and enslaved by them. Once Gods people repented of their sin they were then allowed to fight back and win at cost. Moral of the story is “Don’t walk away from God, Europe” or it will cost you. So is this an opportunity for
    evangelisation, or is this a judgement? I think either would have to start with repentance and then thanking God for His provision (what ever that might look like).

  3. Wow, just wow! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I so hope to become a part of the change. My heart aches for these refugees but it hurts just as deeply for the lost hearts of Christians here in the United States. Lord, please use us to soften hearts, save lives, and introduce the world to Your love.

    1. Amen!!…”My heart aches for these refugees but it hurts just as deeply for the lost hearts of Christians here in the United States.”…and for American who have not known our passionate loving Lord. Your comment reflects my heart, in that it includes an ache for “Christians here” (which is often missing in current dialog). Thank you for your comment & heart & prayer!

      1. Hi Martha. Yes, my heart aches for people everywhere that do not know Jesus. I also believes that he is faithful to pursue each and every one of them. What concerns me is that people tend to become quite compassionate and concerned for the lost in their country, the veterans, the homeless only when we begin talking about helping people that ‘do not belong in our country.’ I am not speaking about you – I have no idea what kind of a person you are.

  4. Wow! Thank you for sharing your heart. My heart aches for these refugees but it hurts just as deeply for the lost hearts of Christians here in the United States. Lord, please use us to soften hearts, save lives, and introduce people to Your love.

  5. “In contrast, Middle-Eastern cultures are highly hospitable. Dare I say that they reflect a key component of the character of the God-head and Christ himself, which is radical hospitality?” Huh? Really?

    1. Yeah, I’ve alternated living/working overseas with Stateside all my life, and every time I come home it strikes me again how little we understand hospitality. It’s got to be one of our biggest blind-spots in our American culture. In my experience, it’s my Middle Eastern friends (both Christians and Muslims) that have the best innate sense of the kind of hospitality God calls us to.

    2. Yeah, I’ve alternated living/working overseas with Stateside all my life, and every time I come home it strikes me again how little we understand hospitality. It’s got to be one of our biggest blind-spots in our American culture. In my experience, it’s my Middle Eastern friends (both Christians and Muslims) that have the best innate sense of the kind of hospitality God calls us to.

      1. Yes, I agree with this. Was just having a conversation with a Bulgarian friend yesterday about this. We have so much to learn about hospitality – especially because Jesus came out of that kind of hospitable culture. We miss so much.

    3. Yes, David. Really! Most people who have lived and worked in the Middle East as cultural brokers … so, that means in the capacity of integrating into Middle Eastern culture. will confirm that they are incredibly hospitable cultures. In fact, we can expect that Jesus, having grown up in a similar cultural context also would have this high capacity and expectation for hospitality.

  6. IF we are morally obligated to help the refugees, then it would be immoral to bring them to the United States. Let me explain:

    Imagine if the “Good Samaritan” didn’t come upon one beat up man, but came upon 25 beat up men, women and children. Now, he has the money to help all 25 people at a near by hotel and hospital, to cover everything they need, or he can afford to bring one of those 25 people to his home country on the other side of the world to live (in what they would consider a palace) and take care of that one person.

    And he is willing to do one or the other? Which would you recommend to him? Help the 25 of course, because it would be immoral for him to just pick one out of the bunch.

    That’s what the USA’s problem is right now. It costs between $35,000 and $65,000 to bring one refugee over to the USA. For that price, the USA could send that money to help 25 or so refugees in the local camps.

    SO aside from the feel good motives of bringing people over here with little chance at returning to their home, lets help them out in countries near by where they can be safe and still have the opportunity to return when ISIS is defeated.

    1. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8

    2. By creating a safe zone in their native country, we could serve 25 more refugees than immediately bringing them in as immigrants. If we also provided jobs and English language training we could then prepare them to be independent and have the opportunity to achieve their goals in a western country if they chose to immigrate. Also, since they would have the language and job skills to be self supporting, the $35,000 to $65,000 cost would largely vanish. … it’s a thought that seems to mesh with my theology..

      1. Yes, Jim. All true. The question is, where and how are you going to set up a safe zone in Syria? You would have full-on attacks from ISIS and from Bashar Al Assad. You would have bombs from Russia. Who is going to enforce the safe zone? The US? And, if so, then how much money will it cost to do that?

    3. Hello Neil Bob. I appreciate that you share your views here. I have heard this argument before. I will simply say that I do not agree. This parable was not given for that kind of interpretation. You take something that Jesus used to teach a specific principle and have added your own twist, hoping to make it better. The point of the parable is crystal clear — the religious men passed by the man because they had logical reasons to not stop and help. The Samaritan stopped to help, even though there was a logical reason why he should not. Your entire paragraph is simply a 21st century example of the first or second character in this parable – a logical reason why you should not help someone in need. Thank you for contemporizing the parable for us.

    4. Amen! In Lev. 19 God tells us how to be truly loving AND just. Read it and see that we are obligated to do “nothing that endangers the lives of your neighbors. I am the LORD.” WE must help the stranger in the same passage, we must not allow terrorists to come in and destroy our neighbors in, say, Time Square, just because you feel better knowing our small towns are likely not going to be the target.

      1. Thank you, Ann. Let me direct you to Luke 10:29, which begins with the question, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus, himself, answers that question by telling a parable of a man who was robbed, beaten and left to die in a ditch. I assume that you know the parable of the Good Samaritan and the point of that parable: two, good and religious men had logical reasons not to help the man who was of an enemy race. I dare say that God had very little compassion for their choices. Ann, also in Leviticus 19, just a few verses before the one that you used, God begins by saying, ‘Be holy because I am holy.’ He then begins a list that describes what God-holiness looks like. By verse 9, he plainly talks to us about how to treat the foreigner and the poor. What do you think it means when God says to you, ‘Leave room at the edges’? And, if you would like more clarity on that topic, I would suggest reading the story of Ruth, the Moabite. There, you will find again the command to, ‘leave room at the edges.’ God bless you Ann as you bless others.

  7. God has said have no God but me. Muslims have alah and alah is not God. Jesus of Nazareth loved sinners, they were those who when their sin was exposed, repented and were baptised according to John’s baptism. Muslims have their god , they have their prophet, they have their own version of Jesus, who is not the Son of God.

    1. God has also said, ‘Take care of the foreigner as if he was one from amongst you. Love him as yourself.’ Jesus also extended great compassion to the Samaritan woman and to the Canaanite woman (in fact, her daughter was one of only 2 people that he healed from afar, and both of those healings were for non-Jews). The activity we see in Jesus is compassion, love, and justice, yes, but a demand for justice for all of his children. Not just those in the USA. When we read the Bible, we cannot read it simply from the perspective of an American or a westerner. That sacred book was written for Syrians too. Read it from their perspective – you might be shocked to see what it says.

  8. I like how you see the world through your faith, however it’s overly simplistic and not realistic. Other than draining our own resources- which are stretched thin, if you don’t think they are go to the ‘ bad’ parts of town and ask a 4 th grader to read to you. Ask them to show you their home. Second, we are only taking the refugees that can find employment and do an adequate background check I.e. the well off educated ones. That means we are robbing the Middle East of the people who have the mental resources to fix/improve their country. Third, the best thing a Christian can do is help people within their own borders. Invest in them. Yes, you can buy your Christmas gifts from farmers in Afghanistan. I don’t want to advertise here- just Google it. My point is, to think that the best solution is to pull the people from the Middle East is to be following the rhetoric that people want us to argue about. They are putting thoughts in our head without looking at the big picture. Lastly, if you were not advocating for Sudanese to be brought to the US a month ago, or R.O.C. or Mali, then you might want to think about where your compassion is placed. What makes Syrians more worthy than people of any conflict.

    1. Hi Cristina. Perhaps my faith is overly simplistic, but then, the words of Jesus do seem quite straight-forward and clear: take care of the foreigner amongst you as if you were caring for yourself (Leviticus 19:34).

    2. And Christina … there is no Biblical background for saying ‘the best thing that a Christian can do is take care of those in their own country.’ Now, you can believe that, but you cannot put those words in the mouth of Jesus.

  9. Really loved this, great challenge and response to what we’re seeing out there. Two critiques I have though – first, the title generates some of what you have argued against. If I share this on my facebook feed, the title that shows up in big and bold letters implies fear and rejection of refugees. I recognize the tactic of trying to draw those who are in that head space to read and be challenged by it, but in the browsing of a feed that we all do, amidst so many others filled with fear and rejection, I feel it adds to the wrong side. Second, the characterization of Christian treatment throughout refugee countries of origin is inaccurate. For example, the majority of refugees right now are Syrian, a country that was 10% Christian and had constitutionally enshrined freedom of religion. There are certainly many ways this was interpreted in the courts, additional sectarian restrictions on some aspects of life, and of course social pressures to which I think your point of this being an amazing opportunity for the kingdom is still very applicable, it’s just the underlying characterization that seems to paint every nation in the Middle East/North Africa as having laws like Saudi Arabia that is too broad a stroke.

    1. Hi Mark. Thanks for your response and constructive criticism. Much appreciated. As to the title – I think you capture both my intent and the downside of that strategy. The title was originally more satirical and I pulled back. In doing so, of course my perspective is not unbiased. So, thanks. I will think about that.

      As to your second point – also, something good for me to think about. Of course, it was not my intent to paint all Syrians as Muslims, nor to paint all Muslims as potential terrorists, etc. and, I am confident that you know that. So, let me take a look at my expression. Just teaching Heart of Darkness by Conrad in my class and talking about Achebe’s response. So, this point is well taken.

      Thanks again for your constructive criticism.

  10. Thank you so much for this post. You have captured my thoughts and heart perfectly. I am passionate about my beliefs and convictions but am not able to articulate how I feel. Thank you again.

  11. Please separate fanatics and religion. How would you feel if your country is bombed to pieces by the so called great nations. No work No food etc, etc. You have no compassion!

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