Tag Archives: Refugees


Read Luke 6:43-49

“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).

CrossroadSince 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.

“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.


Notre Dieu de la Solidarité

Read Luke 10:25-37

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; [God] saves those whose spirits are crushed.” (Psalm 34:18 CEB)

earth-hour-2009It has been a week since the terrible attacks that were simultaneously waged on the people of Paris, France. In those attacks 129 were killed, including one American, and tons more were injured. It was the bloodiest attack on France since World War II and the country was seriously thrown into a state of emergency as the French government tries to figure out how to cope amid such evil. On top of this, as evidence of the small world we live in, it turns out that there were people I knew over in Paris during the night of the attacks.

Instantly, in response to these attacks, people started showing their solidarity with France and the French people, by flying French Flags and by changing their profile pictures and covers to the French flag and/or French colors. Youy can go anywhere on Facebook without seeing a billion little French Flag icons, each of them represent a person who is standing in compassionate solidarity for the country of France and the city of Paris. It doesn’t take too long to remember back to September 11, 2001 to remember that when the United States of America was attacked, the French flew the American Flag in solidarity with us.

Aside from all of the positive reaction to the egregious evil that was committed against the French people on that evening of Friday, November 13th, there has been some negative reaction as well. Out of fear people are saying all sorts of things. When fear strikes at our hearts, we often find ourselves rationalizing and justifying things that would horrify us in normal situations. I have heard a Christian pastor on YouTube calling out the sins of France as a reason for the attacks, much like some pastors did in the days following September 11th. Conversely, there are no doubt antitheists who have seen this as just another reason why religions should be eradicated from the world. Such people perpetuate the old, tired and groundless argument that “religion is the cause of all of the world’s wars.” That is of course just as untrue and ridiculous as the aforementioned pastor’s egregious theology that God used the attacks to “punish” the French people.

Of course, there are egregious political claims being made as well. All of these things, in the end, continue the work to divide, rather than unite, humanity. Why is it that human beings can’t seem to find common ground on anything. Even as millions show the French colors in solidarity with their pain and suffering, others are divisively working to drive more fear and separation in the hearts of those around them? Where is God in all of this? Where is God in the attacks? Where is God in the aftermath of the attacks? Where is God in the midst of such crazed and poisonouss rhetoric?

The truth is that God is present through the people who are showing their love to the French people and to all peoples who suffer. Through the neighbors who pulled strangers into their homes to shelter them from the terrorists, to the first responders literally picking people, and sometimes pieces of people, off of the streets of Paris, to the millions flying French colors to show their love and support, GOD IS PRESENT and GOD IS WORKING. God is present through the psychologists, the doctors, the nurses, and hospital workers. God is present through the humanitarian workers seeking to relieve the French people, as well as the countless refugees seeking refuge from persectution. God does not discriminate the way we do. God does NOT “punish” people. We are the ones who punish each other and ourselves with hateful and ungodly ideas and theologies. The question for us is, where are we? Where are we in all of this? Are we with God in the midst of such senseless and evil tragedies, or are we with the divisive and wicked world? My prayer is that we find ourselves standing with God in solidarity with and support of the hurt, the hopeless and the displaced.

Be wary of any belief or ideology that promotes division between you and your fellow human beings.” – Unknown, shared by Eugene Steficek on Facebook

Lord, place in the lives of the lost, the broken, the hurt, the hopeless, and the displaced so that I may stand in solidarity with and support of them. Amen.