To be sure, there are opinions on all sides of the matter of what to do with the massive exodus of Syrian refugees that have fled their homeland in the last months. Does the U.S. take them in in mass, carte blanch? Does the federal government place very articulated restrictions on Syrian immigration status? How are they vetted to keep the public safe? These are all questions that MUST be answered. And it is not an easy conclusion.
I do not envy the legislators wrestling with this issue of Syrian refugees. They have to balance the very real issue of public safety with the very real moral reality of welcoming the fleeing masses to a better, more secure life.
As a Christian I want us to not only stretch out our hands to help, but to run into the masses and be part of the remedy. But not all our public leaders have my worldview and neither do a large part of the U.S. population. I cannot expect from them the standard to which God calls me.
If our public officials allow all comers, and an attack occurs from within, they will be publicly excoriated. If they react, as many are now – heavy on public safety, they are publicly excoriated. It is a no-win predicament.
How doe we respond?
For what they are worth, here are my thoughts.
- As a nation we should move aggressively and prudently toward a resolution. As Christians we are called to not turn away the widow, the orphan, or any others from far off lands. We are to show them the unconditional love of Christ through our hospitality and care. Our nation has morally lead in the world when it comes to public refugee status. We did it after WWII, we can do it again. But we, as citizens cannot expect it to be an easy conclusion or a simple choice. There are simply too many cooks in the kitchen with very loud voices. Petition our leaders for a sound, credible and well reasoned process to accept refugees. We need to provide a well lighted path to security and peace.
- Christian influence in culture is not heightened through fear or arrogance. We, as followers of a good and able King should not set our hearts or minds on the changing winds of public opinion. It is disheartening to hear faith leaders publicly flog the intent or opinions of their leaders. This does nothing to uphold the teachings of Jesus. Shame on us! Quick action is often foolish action when making tough decisions. For the sake of Christ in our culture let us back off public commentary of damning and accusing each other of malice and/or ignorance – regardless of your political leanings. It is disgraceful.
- Lets all take a deep breath and get some perspective. We should all continue to observe and pray for our leaders. Whether you like them or not doesn’t matter. They are still our leaders. And our ability to assist in any meaningful way as U.S. citizens, outside of traveling to a foreign country, comes through the means and legislative process of our political leaders. By all means, with grace and kindness, petition their offices with your personal desires in these matters, that is your right and duty as a citizen. But we must also remember God is still sovereign. He knows better than you, I, or our leaders what is needed and how to best meet the need. Allow God to work in the hearts and minds of the Syrian people, the officials at the head of the process, and the American public who are watching. Will Jesus get glory from our public composure or will we, as the church, defame His purposes through our cultural need for independent thought and idealism? Time will tell.
Let us not be part of the problem. Pray for your leaders for wisdom, courage, compassion and resolve. Pray for the refugees for safety, hope, and relief.