The Quest Men’s Group is currently going through a study called Not a Fan. It’s about being a committed follower of Christ, not just a fan who admires what He’s doing from the sidelines. This morning, one of the questions was, “are there any stains from your past that keep you from fully following Christ?” My initial reaction was, “no, I grew up a Christian and never really wandered far away.” But that is a pretty lame answer and one that didn’t stick for long.
If I’m honest about it, there is a stain from my past that keeps me from following God. My previous political affiliations and current political leanings, if unchecked, can keep me from following God’s instructions to love my neighbor as myself, to care for the poor, to welcome the refugee, etc. My natural reaction is to see these sorts of issues through the lens of a conservative American, as an elephant, instead of seeing them through the lens of a sheep, a devoted follower of Christ.
And if there is one thing social media has taught me – besides teaching me that cat videos never get old – it’s that a lot of, if not most, Christians view people and the world through a politically assigned worldview. We allow our political affiliation to dictate how we process various issues, often forgetting to engage common sense and a wonder at how Jesus would react. And then we are quick to make public proclamations regarding our reactions and stances.
This goes both ways, too. Republican and Democrat Christians, the most conservative and the most liberal of Christians, and every leaning in between seems guilty of this. The extreme of one side does seem quick to judge and discard, and the extreme of the other side seems to want to accept everything -not everyone, but everything – as though God’s position is antiquated. There’s got to be a balance there.
The Paris bombings and the current refugee situation has amplified it and really put a spotlight on it, but it has been going on for quite some time. Most Christians in my circles are vehemently against bringing in any Muslim refugees, and there’s been some pretty salty, racist, and even violent language used by sone to express this. On the other hand, some of my Christian friends poo-poo that and say there’s no threat involved to bringing in refugees, as though why happened last week never really happened. Both views are extreme and unbecoming in my opinion, because lacking compassion and lacking common sense are both tough pills for me to swallow.
I do think bringing in Syrian refugees presents obvious risks. You lose some credibility with me when you pretend otherwise. But you, as a Christian, also lose some credibility with me when allow fear and some evil people to dictate how you view and treat everyone else, as though God had no idea there were risks involved in welcoming refugees and foreigners when He commanded it. I made the mistake of reading internet comments yesterday, and a great deal of Christians swore by the position that God would want us to protect America first, instead of knowingly exposing ourselves to risk by welcoming the refugees. That was the common response to being asked what Jesus would do. But is it true that Jesus would not welcome some in order to avoid being exposed to harm? Some would say so, but Jesus and Judas would both disagree.
As Christians, we are called to be wise as serpents, harmless as doves, and as dedicated to following as sheep, and we are called to treat people accordingly. We are not called to be elephants or donkeys.