Yesterday I posted about a list of what you should do every day that I am presently really digging. Johnny Karate’s 5 Karate Moves to Success. Today I’m going to write about one of the things that I believe those of us who claim to follow Christ should karate chop.
Before I begin let me say something that I say at Tapestry pretty frequently. I don’t talk about politicians at Tapestry but I do often talk about politics. Politics are about the policies that our government supports or avoids. My friend, Clint, would say that basically “everything that happens in life is politics”. I would say everything is theological but I understand the similarity and Clint is a really smart guy so I’ll support him on this statement. Policies are issues that the church should be involved in because they involve how we act and operate as a citizenry and country. They reflect our values as a people. It is my opinion that talking about politicians at church, or as a chaplain, diverts me from the mission I have been called to work toward, but talking about policies (i.e. politics) helps to promote that mission. I believe this leads to followers of Christ being a “thorn in the flesh” of politicians because we will become more concerned with getting certain things done than we are with which of the various parties gets credit for the completed actions.
So let’s talk about Christians allowing their fear to determine how we treat refugees and for that matter immigrants also. If you are a follower of Christ you have given up your right to allow fear (other than the fear/awe of God, but that’s a different thing) to determine your actions. You gave up that right when you declared Jesus as Lord. To declare that Jesus is Lord means that He has the right to determine how we lead our lives and we have agreed to follow His directives. If you don’t recognize Him as Lord that’s another matter, but if we declare Him to be Lord then we have no right to allow fear to keep us from doing what He wants. That’s why so often his messengers (the meaning of the word aggelos, ἄγγελος, angel) begin their messages from Him with the phrase “do not be afraid”1 .
And the thing is we know how He wants us to respond to those in need and the foreigners in our midst. Scripture makes this very clear. There are too many references to list here2 but I think Deuteronomy 10:19 does a good job of summarizing the intent of them. It states, “and you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Love! That is the command we have been given by our Lord. We are to love the foreigner and there is no debate about it. As the wonderful contemporary theologians DC Talk reminded us “love is a verb” and therefore we need to be active in our love toward the weak.
Jesus continues the thought of the Old Testament in His parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. I have mentioned this parable on the blog before and I am pretty sure that I reference in conversations around Tapestry about once a month. Basically Jesus says in the parable that we better be on the look out for Him in the personages of those in need. The way we respond to these “least of these” is our response to Jesus ((Matthew 25:40)) .
Please noticed that I haven’t spoken about any of the political parties in this post. Neither of the two primary, dominant, political parties has done that great of job with refugees and immigrants. My friend, fellow pastor, and immigration lawyer, Scott Hicks recently posted an article referring to former President Obama as the Deporter-in-Chief on the same day that he advised immigrants to avoid Butler County, Ohio because of President Trump’s executive order concerning immigrants. Those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ should demand more from all our politicians rather than thinking our party is doing a good job with refugees and immigrants. We should be concerned with treating those who are different from us in a Christ like manner, not just concerned about whether our party is in power or not. Like I said earlier we should be a “thorn in the flesh” of politicians and we can’t do that if we allow our fears to keep us from doing what we have been commanded to do by our Lord.
As I was just reminded by the excellent religious commentary “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”3 the Hebrew word miṣwāh means both “command” and “blessing”. For those who claim to be disciples of the messiah doing what God has commanded is not just obeying our Lord but is also the giving and receiving of a blessing. Jesus described this by stating “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”4 To do the will of God is a blessing, as we can’t let our fear overcome us and keep us from the blessing of the command of God.
We can and should have serious debate about how best to care for refugees and immigrants, but if you are a follower of Christ you cannot allow your fear to keep you from jumping in to help the weak. We need to karate chop our fear.