Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Christian's Response.

You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 23:9 NASB)

     How do we put into practice the words of Jesus in these dark days of fear and hatred? What is the Christian's response to those who would close their hearts against another who is in need (1 John 3:17)?  When others around you are demanding to close the borders against Syrian refugees, how do you respond? Could it really be true that terrorists are coming into this country in this way, or are we really being overly suspicious?

     Look at the words of Jesus very carefully, because what He teaches us speaks to this situation. What He says goes completely against the ways of this world, yet it is a standard that He holds His followers to!

     "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets."
(Matthew 7:12 NASB)

     "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also. And whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.
(Luke 6:27-28 NASB)

     "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."
(Luke 10:27 NASB)

     This is just a sampling of Jesus' teaching on love. Notice that Jesus does not limit love to those who love us back, but He extends it to all, even those who are our enemies (Matt 5:43-48). We are to treat everyone in the same manner that we would have them treat us! We are to love our neighbor in the same way that we love ourselves. And who is my neighbor? Your neighbor is anyone with a need that you can meet. This is not something that is defined by political or racial lines. A neighbor can be anybody, of any ethnic or religious background. He may be your enemy, but Christ calls us to love them. The true neighbor is one who shows mercy to one in need (Luke 10:29-37).

     This is how the Bible defines love.
           Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NASB)

     According to this, love gives people the benefit of the doubt. Love is not suspicious of others, yet this is what we are seeing of so many people today, even among those who call themselves Christians. Is it possible that a terrorist may try to sneak in as a refugee? I imagine so, but yet, put yourself in the shoes of a refugee who is fleeing for his life. Wouldn't you desire help if you were in that situation? There are thousands upon thousands of people who are in this situation today. Yes they are Muslim, but they do need help, and they do need the Savior! Perhaps this is an opportunity to reach out to them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
     The teachings of Christ run counter to the way we are used to doing things. In the natural, we are bent on self preservation, but Jesus calls those who would be His disciples to lose their lives for His sake (Mark 8:34-35). The follower of Christ understands that this world is only a temporal thing, and that if he or she was to die in the service of Christ, they have an eternal home with Christ. They understand what it means to lose all for Him. It is a different principle entirely from that of the world. Jesus calls His followers to selfless love, not self preservation. This be the response of all who name the name of Jesus.



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