Fear Not. Welcome. Love.

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:35-40

Over the past two years many controversies have rocked the United States. From Ferguson to the legalization of gay marriage to the latest protest of red cups (still not clear on that one…), my Facebook newsfeed is constantly filled with opinions from both sides of any controversial aisle. I may comment here and there but generally I keep my opinion to myself; social media needn’t know which way I lean.

My blog is reserved for personal anecdotes and stories of cultural run-ins here on Clove Island. It is not a platform for me to preach or stand up on my soapbox. That being said, I hereby place my soapbox on the ground in front of you and stand upon it.

Since the terrorist attacks a few days ago I have seen my Facebook newsfeed go from an outpouring of #prayforparis to an all out battle over Syrian refugees being allowed into the United States. I welcome the

attention. For too long the Syrian refugee crisis has been a side note to the American people, a sad news story we quickly skip over, preferring to see the latest picture of Kim Kardashian’s butt. Now it has come to the forefront and everyone seems to be choosing a side.

I have been shocked and appalled to learn of all the governors who are refusing to allow Syrian refugees to relocate in their states. More shocking still is that all four states that I would readily call home: Florida, Georgia, Indiana and Ohio have all claimed they will refuse to accept refugees. And I have been saddened to see many of my Christian friends applauding these decisions. And here I speak to you, Christians:

It is our duty to welcome the stranger. Throughout the ages, God has commanded his people to be hospitable, reminding them that they were once strangers in a new land.welcome

“And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:19

We are to show hospitality. This is our duty as believers!

“Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality.” Romans 12:13

Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 (see above) that when we welcome the stranger, we are welcoming Jesus. The next verses condemn those that do not.

“Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:1

I have heard it said that we cannot afford to be compassionate. These refugees might be a Trojan horse! ISIS might use them to bring in more terrorists.

Many articles have been written about how there has never been a terrorist attack by a refugee in the United States and how the attackers in Paris were not refugees. But the simple fact of the matter is, yes, ISIS may use this for their benefit. Yes, more extremists may infiltrate our borders. But, Christian, where is your trust?

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
    In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalms 56:3-4

Jesus-follower, where is your love?

There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because he first loved us.”1 John 4:18-19

“You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy’. But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-44

God is bigger than ISIS. Do you believe that? God loves Syrians just as much as he loves you. If we long to have a heart that loves the same things as God, we too will love Syrians. Do not let fear reign in your heart. Open your hearts and petition your governors to open their borders. Do not sit back and wringing your hands, saying there is nothing to be done. Stand up for righteousness!

Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands.” What therefore are we to do?

Fear not. Welcome. Love.

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