Read Luke 6:43-49
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Jesus said to everyone, ‘All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross daily, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will save them.’” (Luke 9:23-24 CEB).
Since the recent attacks on Paris shocked the world, there has been a lot of debate on what the appropriate response to all of this is. What’s more, the current Syrian refugee crisis has come front and center as people realize the possibility that terrorists can blend in with the refugees and sneak into the countries who accept them in. Naturally, people are worried (and even afraid) of the dangers looming over the decision of letting minimally vetted people into their country.
Without doubt, many Christians have entered the debate coming from varying angles. Some Christians have argued that we either shouldn’t allow any refugees in or we should only allow Christians in. These Christians feel that, though they have sympathy toward the refugees, it is most important to protect our homeland and its citizens. Because there is no real way to adequately screen the millions of refugees pouring out of Syria, these Christians and many others (regardless of religious affiliation) fear that allowing such people in could have catestrophic and deadly consequences.
Many have argued that the Christian response would be to welcome them in. After all, God in the Hebrew Scriptures called the Israelites, and by extension us, to be welcoming of and kind to foreigners and strangers. Also, Jesus called for such mercy and compassion toward others as well. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a few parables on the Kingdom of Heaven. The last parable describes God separating the faithful from the wicked, just as a king who separates the sheep from the goats. The sheep, being faithful, have lived lives of radical compassion and service toward all who are in need. The goats were wicked because, though they claimed to follow the king, they refused to live lives of radical compassion and service toward all who are in need.
The point of this is not to choose sides between the two options, or anything in between. That is not my job, nor my goal, in writing this devotion. That discernment is up to you, as a Christian or person of faith. The point I am trying to bring out, by highlighting this current issue, is that Christians today find themselves in a place where faith goes far beyond the pew on a Sunday morning. It is one thing to say, “I’m a Christian. I believe in Jesus.” It is a completely different thing to deny yourself (e.g. your desires, your successes, your status, your hopes and your fears), pick up your cross, and follow Jesus.
Today, we find ourselves, ever increasingly, at crossroad not unlike what Jesus’ disciples and the earliest Christians found themselves at. Evil, injustice, and oppression are rearing their ugly heads in our world at alarming rates. No longer is it okay for Christians to be complacent as if the only thing that matters is “professing” Jesus’ name with their lips. That sort of “faith”, as James rightly exclaims, is dead! That is really no faith at all. What Christ is looking for, as is clear in the sheep/goats parable, is followers who are committed to LIVING out their faith in the world. Christ is looking for Christians who will seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Christ is looking for people who will resist the status quo like he did. He is calling us to stand against injustice, evil and oppression. He is calling us to be committed to radically compassionate service toward all of the “least of these”, regardless of who they are, where they’re from, or what others think of them or say about them. There can be no debate that this, for Jesus Christ, is what being his follower is all about.
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Go in through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road wide, so many people enter through it. But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it.” – Jesus, the Christ (Matthew 7:13-14 CEB).
Lord, keep steering me toward the resurrected life of justice, mercy, compassion, humility and faithful action. Amen.