Right now, I know many Christians on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to the major issue of the present time: terrorism and refugees. These two issues have become so inter-connected and so filled with rumor, half-truth and speculation that a strong division is developing in the faith.
Some feel it is a basic part of our faith to help the refugees of the world, even to the point of welcoming them into our country and supplying the money they need to successfully integrate into our culture. Others feel that helping refugees is a slippery slope that will lead to our culture and country being taken over by Islam, complete with the introduction of Sheria law. ( That, by the way is a redundant expression–Sheria means law in Arabic.)
So, while some Christians are working hard raising money to fund refugee settlement, others are seeking ways to slow or even stop the process. Some are adopting hard line attitudes that sees a terrorist in every refugee and every Muslim as part of a grand scheme to take over the world.
For me, a basic question we need to ask in this increasingly noisy debate is a very basic theological question: “Does God love refugees?” A related and perhaps even more important question is: “Does God love Muslims?” If the answer is that God doesn’t love refugees or Muslims, than we can continue on our way, ignoring them, bombing them, shooting them, excluding them.
But if the answer is yes, then we have to adopt a very different approach, an approach that shows God’s love clearly and powerfully. We are obligated, for example, to apply to them the words of Matthew 7.12: ” So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (NIV)
So, if we are running away from a war that has destroyed our home, killed family members and made our lives a living hell, would we not want someone to help us? Would we not want someone to give us a new life, one far removed from the pain and suffering we experience now?
If the answer is yes, we are obligated to adopt a different attitude to terrorists. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5.44-45: ” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (NIV)
If the answer is yes, then we are obligated to adopt a different attitude towards Islam. We are told in John 3.16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV) Since God loves them, they are included when Jesus tells us in Matthew 28.19: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…” (NIV)
If the answer is yes that God loves refugees and terrorists and Muslims, we need to be willing to live out that truth–and remember that living out our faith isn’t a call to safe and comfortable and peaceful and predictable. Living out our faith can be costly. In fact, living out his faith proved extremely costly for Jesus. He preached and taught and lived a life of loving enemies and offering God’s love to all and look what it got him–a cross and an early grave.
But the answer to the question is yes. God does love refugees, terrorists and Muslims, along with whatever group or individual happens to be the controversy of the day or week or month or year. There are no exceptions to the yes of God’s love–and therefore no exceptions to our need to show that love. Certainly, we can be wise and insist our government do security checks. Definitely, we can take steps to limit what terrorists can do.
But whatever else we do, we need to be looking for the best and most effective ways to show the love of God. If that means bringing a Muslim refugee family to be our next door neighbour, we do it–it might take some serious prayer, some soul-searching repentance, some significant work of the Holy Spirit, but it is our calling and what we have committed ourselves to in accepting God’s grace.
May the peace of God be with you.