Letting In Refugees

[Author’s Note:  If you disagree with my opening statements, that’s okay.  Please read the post in its entirety before dismissing what I have to say.]

Allowing Muslim refugees into the country is a hot button issue lately.  Can we trust them?  Should we open our doors knowing that there may be wolves among the sheep?  It is a dangerous game.  I’ll admit, I lean conservative on almost all of my views.  And I think that anyone who is allowed within our own boarders needs to be scrutinized and looked at under a microscope before just letting them in.  Being cautious is wise, not intolerant.  The leaders of America have a duty to the safety and wellbeing of Americans first.  All others are secondary.  But let us say we let in the Muslim refugees.  Should we give them free run of our streets?  I don’t think so.  Should they be put up in five-star hotels at the expense of tax payers?  I don’t think so either.  If we are to allow them in, they should be placed in some type of camps where they can be watched. Their basic needs should be provided.  Shelter with heat and air, clean water, and food.  If they choose to live in the US permanently, well there’s a process for that.  And the resources for that process should be made available to them.  Should they begin the path to citizenship, then as a nation of immigrants I think we could welcome them as such.  But if in the name of tolerance, which the liberal left is screaming, why is there so much going around about the Christians from the Middle East that are being denied asylum in the US?  Where is the cry for tolerance on their behalf?  Isn’t it extremely hypocritical to deny one group but blindly cater to another group in the name of tolerance?  In fact if tolerance is the battle cry here, why should it matter what their religion or nationality or ethnicity is?  That shouldn’t even be a factor.  The needs of the people asking for help should be the only factor.  Acknowledging the differences of any two groups and not treating the same is not practicing tolerance.  It is promoting segregation and discrimination.  Haven’t we grown past that?  Aren’t we better than that now? Apparently not.  So in my humble opinion, if we can’t offer the same asylum to every group asking for help, I don’t think we should offer it to any group.  At the very least we’d be treating them the same.

But let’s say I deny my own humble opinion, and look at the situation as a Christian through a Biblical lens.  How might that change my outlook on this scenario?  I’ve thought a lot on the matter.  Yes, there is danger in letting outsiders in.  There very well could be wolves among the sheep.  And I believe that there are.  But those of us that are conservatives who claim to hold to our Christian values, what are we to do about that?  I look at all the stories where good Christian families have opened their homes to strangers.  They’ve allowed former convicts to stay in their homes.  They foster troubled children and treat them as their own children.  And they didn’t do this without fear.  There were dangers.  But they were obedient to God.  And God has moved in the lives of those opening their homes, as well as those who were welcomed with open arms.  How should that inspire us on a national level?  And what does the Bible say about such things?

Hebrews 13:2  –  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Romans 12:20,21  –  To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

These, just to name two passages.  If you claim to hold Christian values then you cannot deny that we are called to offer aide to those in need, even if our enemies are among them.  That is not saying that we should trust them blindly.  We should be wise and take precaution, because we are obligated to protect our own.  But, we can be cautious and still help those in need.  Saul of Tarsus was once dangerous to Christians.  He tracked them down and had them executed.  Imagine the first Christian household that was asked to take in the newly blinded Saul.  From there on out we know him as Paul, one of the greatest fathers of the Church.  When we obey God, He moves and works in ways that we do not have the foresight to see.  What if among the refugees, we have another Paul in the making.  He or she might have done terrible things, and could possibly do more terrible things.  But they have the potential to do great things in the name of the True God.  We need only do our part.  I look at the refugees, and I am afraid of the bad things that could happen.  But I also look at them, and I see men and women that are created in the image of God.  I see human beings, no matter what label they give themselves.  They should be treated as such.  They are in need.  Christians of the nation, we need to walk the walk if we are going to talk the talk.  Our Christian values give us no option but to help.  This is an opportunity to share the love of God.  And in doing so we will be taking the fight to the enemy. Because those people are not the enemy.  The evil forces of this world, sin, the demons and the devil that walk among us, they are the enemy.  And I assure you that they don’t want us showing love to anyone.  They want us who call ourselves Christians to turn our backs on those in need, and they want to laugh at us and mock God when we do so.

A little bit of thought with an open Bible in hand can change your world view.  So take some time to think on these things.  We used to run to the phrase, “What would Jesus do?”  Well?  What would He do?  Are we to avoid the beaten stranger in the road because he is not one of us?  Take some time to consider just who our enemy is.  I now think, with strict precaution taken, that we should allow refugees in.  Not in the name of tolerance, but in the name of Christianity.  Because that is what I think Jesus would do. Notice I didn’t say Muslim refugees, but just refugees.  Because they are human beings that need help.  It would give us a chance to share God’s love with our fellow man.  And if we as Christians believe that they are lost because of their denial of the Christ, then we have a free opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus with them here in a way that they might not have been able to receive it in the land from which they came.

Something to think about. God Bless.

-JCH

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In Times Such As These

There are those of us that look at the world these days and lament for how far bad things are. We talk of how corrupt the government has become. We speak of how the world is becoming more and more hostile towards Christian ideals, of how far the morals of society has fallen. We talk of how the world groans for the return of Jesus. We pray and shout, “Come now, Jesus!” We wish to be saved form the wicked world, and to leave it to the prideful and arrogant non-believers. What a time we should be living that the world seems to be turning on those with a Biblical world view!

However, I think we should consider a different view. I still say that the Christians in the West are still blessed. The Christians in the East are martyred daily. They are persecuted for their faith. And in the midst of their suffering they praise God and they weep for joy because they are considered worthy to suffer for Christ. If only we in the West, who have no such barriers to hinder us, were to act with the same passion as our brothers and sisters in the East. In stead, we squabble over minor things. We let the divisions of the Church define our faith. We should let the Bible define our faith, and stop putting so much emphasis on our labels. We shouldn’t just be Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and so one. We should remember that we are one with Christ and all a part of the same body.

I, like many others, do not like the way things are becoming in the U.S. More and more, we are seeing where a person is told they must set aside their personal beliefs when they are in conflict with the PC standards. It is unfortunate that Christianity is looked so negatively. Yet we should not be surprised by these things. We are told by Jesus Christ that the world would hate us, because they first hated Him. The Bible tells us that things will get worse before the return of Jesus. Should we hunker down and hide ourselves from the world and pray that He hasten His return? I say no!

While an ideal society that looks kindly to Biblical ideals would be nice, we as Christians over time have squandered such a blessing. I believe the Church in the U.S. as a whole became lackadaisical over the many years we thought we were a Christian nation. Now society is continually turning away from Christianity. I heard it put this way once; we don’t need to live in Mayberry to be Christians. While it would be nice, that’s just not the case. However, we can still be Christians if we lived in pagan Rome. That’s just what the early Church had to do, and it thrived.

What are we to do in such times? I say we take advantage of our current blessings. We think of ourselves as living in ever-darkening times. I say, what better place and time is there for Christians to be? We are to be the light of the world and the salt of the Earth. It is a privilege to be a Christian in such darkening times. What and opportunity we have to reach the lost! The lost, the non-believer, those with hostile attitudes to Christianity, they are all around us. That simplifies things! Now we can witness in any “direction” and the Word will be heard! I consider it a privilege to be a Christian in the here and now. In times such as this, I wish I had even half the boldness of Paul. In times such as this we need to pray to Jesus that the world needs Him to return, that all of creation groans for it; but please wait just a little longer. Perhaps one more day, or more if You will it, lest another soul can be saved in the precious time given.

Consider these things. Ponder over what it means to live in such times as a Christian. Look at your sphere of influence in this ever-darkening world. How can you serve God in such times and witness to others?

I leave you to your thoughts.  God bless.

-JCH

Merry Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching and the season will be over before we know it.  In thinking about the season, something weighs on me as it seems to do every year.  It is the ever growing argument of “Happy Holidays” versus “Merry Christmas.”

Before I begin, I would like to say up front that I am all for saying “Merry Christmas” as much as any Christian.  I would rather say “Merry Christmas.”  I’d rather hear “Merry Christmas” when out in public.  I don’t like that “Merry Christmas” is being replaced more and more with “Happy Holidays.”  But let’s take a look at this argument for argument’s sake.

First off, why is it an issue?  Many Christians would claim that this is a Christian nation, and that Christmas is a Christian holiday.  While this nation may have been founded upon Christian values, I challenge the saying that this is a Christian nation.  I call anyone who says this to be very honest with themselves.  Look around.  What do you see going on in society?  Christ said that we would know His followers by how they loved each other.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t see that everywhere I look.    I see it in some places, and it warms my heart.  But what I do see is a society that is driven by entertainment.  And I see entertainment that is over sexualized in every corner of the industry.  People are praised at how much they can drink.  In movies and tv shows and books, the criminal is made into the hero and the authorities are the villains.  I’m not talking about Robin Hood here, I’m referring to drug dealers and biker gangs and so forth.  No.  Sadly, when I look at our nation, I do not see a Christian one.  I see a pagan one, driven by the sensual pleasures of the here and now.

We will bypass the common argument that Christmas was built on a pagan holiday.  I acknowledge the events that led to December 25th being selected as Christmas day.  But Christ is known to not have been born on December 25th.  Big deal.  For those that want to stick by the whole “pagan” argument, I point you to the passages in the Bible where Christians are allowed to buy and eat meat that had been dedicated to pagan gods.  (1 Corinthians 8:1-10)

Now concerning food offered to idols:we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so- called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.

So the whole pagan argument is neither here nor there.  If we are convicted in our hearts that we are worshiping God and bringing glory to Him, then whose to say that it is all wrong?  If you are convicted not to celebrate Christmas because of any seemly pagan origins, then by all means, don’t celebrate Christmas.  If you simply don’t believe in God or the birth of Jesus Christ, then why do you care?

With that aside, we as Christians are not called to celebrate any day as near as I can tell.  The closest thing to be found in the Bible around this day is the Jewish Festival of Lights, which we better know as Hanukah.  So this would be the only Biblically legitimate claim to the season.  But that’s beside the point I will be getting at.

So Hanukah and Christmas, in my eyes, are the only real holidays in the season.  While I acknowledge that other groups have days that they celebrate this time of year, you must understand that I don’t believe what they do and therefore do not hold their holidays in any esteem.  I do however, accept their right to celebrate a day however they wish without any harassment on my part.  If they wish to reject God and the idea why Christmas is celebrated, I accept their freedom to do so.  That’s no worse than me not recognizing their holiday.  It’s all the same really.  Which is what real tolerance is; disagreeing yet accepting the other’s right to believe what they will.

This finally brings me to the actual act of saying “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays.”  In light of all of the above, there are clearly many who do not respect Christmas, or recognize it as it should be recognized.  So I must ask myself, do I really want people to say “Merry Christmas” to me and not mean it?   No.  I’d rather someone be genuine about what they say.  I don’t want a half hearted “Merry Christmas.”  I don’t want them to say it because they have to.  If they’re genuinely wishing me a “Happy Holidays,” I’d rather have that.  At least it’s honest if nothing else.  That doesn’t mean I have to say “Happy Holidays” and sacrifice my own feelings.  That doesn’t mean I have to wish a good holiday to a belief that I don’t believe to be true.  But I can still be respectful about it.

This may seem callous at a glance, but is it really?  I’m not calling anyone any names.  I’m not telling anyone what they have to say to me or others.  What I’m simply asking is for genuineness.  If that means telling me “Happy Holidays,” so be it.  If that means you’d rather tell me to “shove off,”  that’s okay too.  I’d rather have your honesty.

To the Christians out there, why do we celebrate Christmas anyway?  Is it because we have an excuse to shopping and buy all kinds of stuff we don’t need?  Is it about snowmen and Santa Claus and decorations?  No and no.  Christmas is about God sending Jesus Christ to Earth to set in motion His plan for the redemption of mankind.  It’s about God’s selfless gift to us, while we didn’t deserve it. We commemorate this in many different ways, but I hope that the meaning is not lost on those who celebrate Christmas.  And as Christians, should we force a saying on others to commemorate God’s gift?  Shall we badger everyone for not believing exactly the way we do?  Or would it be better to simply share God’s love and the message of Jesus Christ, and minister to others even when they don’t believe.  Perhaps this love will bring them around to believing as we do.  If they choose not to believe, are we to berate them and belittle them?  What did Jesus tell the disciples that he sent out in twos to do if a village did not receive them?  Burn it to the ground?  Cleanse the village of unbelief?  Nope.  He told them to dust the sand from their sandals and move on to the next village.  Some people will hate us no matter what we do or say.  Jesus told us as much.  So I challenge you to share the love of Christ this season, and give selflessly.  If you are met with opposition, ‘dust the sand from your sandals’ and move on.  Is forcing a person to say “Merry Christmas” when they don’t believe it really capturing the meaning of the season?  In my humble opinion, I don’t think it does.  They don’t need to say “Merry Christmas,”  they need to hear the words of Jesus Christ.  So as God sent Jesus for mankind, let us also celebrate Christmas in like manner with an unbelieving world.  Let us bring Jesus to them and show them who He is, in stead of making them say a few select words to appease us.  For if they come to believe, they will freely say “Merry Christmas” without being coerced.

With all that said, I would genuinely like to wish you a Merry Christmas!  If that doesn’t do anything for you, I simply wish you a good day.  And to all, I wish a Happy New Year!  God Bless.

-JCH