Christ Is My Cause…
… above all other causes….
I never thought I’d write on this topic…
In light of recent worldwide events with terrorism in Paris, I found myself intrigued by the degree of varying viewpoints on social justice issues. Presently, the topic at hand is the Syrian refugee crisis and Christians are divided on the issue.
So, here I am. Totally unexpected.
It is difficult to see the beautiful faces of young Syrian children who need hope and a secure place to stay without heartstrings breaking. I pray. I ask God to intervene. I ask myself, “What can I say or share that could possibly benefit others, especially other Christians? It seems everyone is saying something, what am I supposed to say, Lord?”
First, let me say that Christ is my cause… above all other causes.
If you walk away with anything from this article, take that.
Let Christ be your cause.
In times like these, the harvest is plentiful. As Christians, we need to make the most of that opportunity. Everyone knows that varying perspectives exist among Christians, but the one thing we have in common is CHRIST.
Keep Christ as Our Cause
As a disclaimer, I will say up front that I prefer not to take a political stance or get involved with things that are bigger than me. These issues are truly bigger than me, bigger than all of us. Let me also say this, the article is written to Christians. I don’t expect non-Christians to understand or agree with the views shared here, but you are welcome to read on.
Interestingly, something doesn’t sit right even as I hear the pleas of very well-intentioned Christians who are intellectual and compassionate, and their arguments are persuasive and full of scripture references. My spirit resonates with “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31; Matthew 22:39) and references to the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), and who could possibly forget 1 Corinthians 13 – our beloved “LOVE” chapter, especially verse 2 that says,
“…if I do not have love, I am nothing”?
What about the many verses regarding the fatherless, the widows, the poor, the destitute, those in mourning? We are commanded to help (Proverbs 22:9, Proverbs 19:17) and to speak up and judge fairly (Proverbs 31:9). Of course, the well-known verse that states our King’s response in heaven to the faithful;
“‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:40)
it should capture all of our attention.
How, then, could there possibly be any other perspective about related social justice issues, and in particular, about the refugees? And the children, oh the children! Our hearts break. And they should.
Yet, there’s a crisis in the Bible when God is about to drive nations out of the way of the Israelites. Let’s think about this, God is about to destroy nations on behalf of the Israelites. Destroy is a strong word, but God had a purpose in it. I wouldn’t want to get that command from God, but He gave it. Was it a crisis for a displaced and conquered people? Yes. Did God allow it? Yes. Why? Well, the foreign nations did not share the same love for God and He had specific purposes for life in the Promised Land. These nations worshipped their own gods. As a result, the LORD God was concerned for the children and future generations! God gives clear instructions to take down the foreign altars and not to have their (Israelite) sons or daughters intermarry with those nations (as listed by name in chapter 7, verse 1). Why?
“For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly” (v. 7:4).
Deuteronomy chapters 6 & 7 establish ways in which we are to show our love for the Lord. The Ten Commandments are given and immediately the importance of “the fear of the Lord” is stated (v. 6:2) with the promise that
“the lives and days of future generations might be prolonged.”
God sets up His order and statutes. God says,
“love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (v.6:5).
Similarly in the New Testament, Matthew 22:37-39 and Mark 12:30-31 state that second to loving God, we must love our neighbor. Interestingly, in this foundational Deuteronomy verse, (Deuteronomy 6:5), there is no reference to loving one’s neighbor. It’s not that God wouldn’t condone love for others, but rather that the emphasis is love for God first – above others – even when God’s views and commands may seem (according to our human perspective) well, unloving. (Yet, God is a God of love. Love is His nature. In love towards those that love Him, God sets standards for protection. Keep in mind that God’s ways are not our ways, and we need to be okay with that.)
The attention of the statutes in Deuteronomy focus on raising a Godly household and loving your children while diligently teaching them God’s ways (v.6:7-9). Note that God does not focus on loving your neighbor, He focuses on loving and training your children! In doing so, we are showing God that we are keeping His first command to love Him. This is God’s priority and order when it comes to loving Him. God was very displeased throughout the Bible with men that failed to raise their children in knowledge, wisdom and reverence of God. We should greatly concern ourselves with this. Consider Eli and his wicked sons which faced a harsh consequence (1 Samuel 2:12). God allows Eli’s wicked sons to die!
“Love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thine soul, and with all thine strength, and love thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37-39; Mark 12:30-31)
FIRST show love for God before loving our neighbor. Keep foreign altars cleared out of the land, and teach children to love and serve God. Keep children from the influence of foreign gods – priorities and wisdom.
Here are my questions in pondering this Syrian refugee situation, have we considered all of the factors that concern God’s heart before taking our stance and concluding that we know His will? Are we seeking His WISDOM? Do we have our American “house” in order where the children of our nation (and of course, of our own homes) are loving and serving the LORD? If not, God tells us there will be trouble and warns that the hearts of children in our own land (perhaps own homes) could/will be turned from Him. Aren’t we already facing enough struggles with our American kids (drugs, bullying, rape, disrespect, lack of knowledge of God, and so on). This is enough to concern me.
Furthermore, let’s ponder this: In order to possess the land and enjoy good life, the Israelites needed to carefully follow all of God’s commands. It is clear that God’s heart is concerned with spiritually (and physically) protecting His children – those that love Him, and the offspring of those that love Him. (This is not to say that He’s not concerned with all children – He is! However, He is very much concerned about the influences on the children of those that profess to love and serve Him). God is displeased with the nations that have turned away from Him and is clear not to make covenant with them (v.2) The verse that mostly strikes me in these passages is
Deuteronomy 6:24 “And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is at this day.”
We must consider what God is saying in the Old Testament and apply it to New Testament understanding and graces. Yes, we live in days of grace. However, there is wisdom in understanding the commands of the Lord in Deuteronomy. It reveals God’s heart and desire, which is something to consider. God’s heart is full of wisdom; we need to seek Him.
I’d also like to briefly share an observation regarding The Good Samaritan that takes pity on the man attacked by robbers. Several are using this parable to support the refugee situation. Well, let’s look at what takes place.
First, the Samaritan bandages his wounds (sending medical help and supplies is a good thing… we should do it!)
Next, he pours on oil and wine. I’ll leave the affirmation of spiritual significance of these two items to the pastors and theologians, but as I understand the oil represents healing (and the pressing of the oil symbolically represents the crushing burden of sin that Jesus carried on the cross for our wholeness), while the wine is a reminder of the blood of Jesus. If, as Christians, we are going to help any downtrodden, including refugees, we must make Jesus the main thing. We can’t just bandage wounds and be content with that. We must be willing to pour on the oil and wine of Jesus. In other words, we must tell them the good news! If we don’t do that, what’s the point?
The Samaritan then puts the man on his donkey and takes him to an inn. The Samaritan gives money to the innkeeper to look after the man. Here we see the Samaritan continuing to care for the welfare of the man. We can do that in many ways. It does not mean that we must do it on our own soil, in our own land. We don’t see the Samaritan then taking the man back home with him. It seems that the Samaritan assisted, then moved on. This passage does not suggest permanence of a situation or relationship, nor does it suggest that the Samaritan carried out any further duty. Let’s take it for what it is and not make it more than that. Yes, the point is that a “neighbor” is one who acts like it and meets needs, but the scripture doesn’t say “here’s the list of all the ways you must meet needs and that includes accepting those of foreign lands and nations into your land.”
In fact, does God EVER give the command ANYWHERE in the Bible to anyone that they must accept those of foreign lands into their own land? If we look at Leviticus 19:33-34, we must consider that the Hebrew word for sojourn (Strong’s concordance #H1481) is a “temporary stay”:
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
In the case of refugees coming to America, we can almost place a sure bet on the fact that their stay will not be temporary. We need to take the ramifications of that seriously. There will be less jobs for Americans, more financial burden and debt on our already weakening economy, and we will simply have more to manage while we already struggle to handle present national issues.
Sure, America changed much of the dynamic of the world by becoming “the melting-pot” – but nowhere does God command that this must happen. The United States of America is not compelled to take the responsibility of the world on its shoulders. The United States of America should be placing more reliance on God (as they once did), and let God do His work. Yet, we seek to play hero.
We live in a day that seeks to embrace globalism, but when nations and tribes came together in the strongest capacity Biblically (which was at The Tower of Babel), God had great concern for the situation and chose to scatter the people and confuse the languages. (Why? Well that’s another topic, another article). In short, I will say humanism (human reliance instead of God-reliance). The world seeks to unify on world issues, but true unity can only come through Christ. Global unity will be a humanistic approach without the power of the living God and Jesus Christ empowering it. As Christians, we must bring Jesus into our approach.
We MUST seek God! We must seek His wisdom.
If we follow prophecy of Revelation, we know that the latter and last days will bring great crisis situations, and we will not be able to fix the problems!
Let me say this about the current refugee situation, I am not opposed to all refugees. Yes, my heart breaks for “victims” and children. However, at this present time, in the midst of chaos and confusion… we must seek wisdom. So, do I support the massive influx of refugees into our country at this present time? No. I do not believe it is wise. Can we help in other ways? Yes. Do we pray and maintain compassionate hearts – yes. However, the fact that our President states that he will not inquire about certain particulars regarding the status of the refugees assures us that we will NOT know who truly is among our midst. This, friends, is unwise.
I do not claim to have all the answers, and I humbly accept that God is sovereign and that no matter what happens,
He will work all things out for the good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
If it means we face troubles in our land and things get shaken up a bit, then perhaps God wants us shaken up to draw us nearer to Him. However, we need to tread carefully. We need time to pray, ponder, plan, and carefully consider all things. Do we accept many and any refugees? No. Can we consider an alternate plan rather than allowing foreigners to seek refuge and easily assimilate into permanent residency? Can we prioritize the Christians? There are Christians seeking refuge that have yet to attain it. How many are Christians? How many are women and children? How many do not fit into these categories? Can we tread slowly? Can we let the American people vote on how many enter their communities and when? Can we close our borders and enforce legal immigration simultaneously? Let’s consider the importance of closing our border for protection. We don’t want to be vulnerable on all sides. Can we let Christian refugee programs that are already in the process of helping and screening do more of the work while we support them? Do we turn our backs on all refugees? No. Do we need wisdom? Yes. There are things we need to consider and diligently inquire of the Lord. We desperately need His wisdom. We need time to ponder and pray on these things, but we are being forced into action without necessary time to inquire of the Lord – and this is dangerous for us as a nation. God, please have grace and mercy.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10).
Wisdom in taking into consideration that which we can do to get our American house in order. As a nation, we seemed to have lost the priority. In fact, as Christians, we slack on that priority. Can we teach and reach our own children (foster children and those that need to be adopted; those in poverty and homeless) about the goodness of God and Christ? Can we bring more scripture and songs/hymns into the churches and homes of our Christian American families? How do we reach those already on our own soil that do not know Christ? Are we doing a good job with that now? What does our education system look like? Can our hearts break for our own children and destitute on our own soil before we say we have other priorities?
In regards to our children (meaning those of our own family and homes), we should not quickly brush off concern and say that they will easily be taught God’s ways and learn to accept adversity (perhaps persecution). They will struggle through it and prayerfully will determine that God’s ways are their choice. BUT, we must give them the proper time and training. Psalm 78 shares the importance of embracing this call to make God’s laws and testimonies known to our children so that
“They might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments: And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their hearts aright, whose spirit was not steadfast with God” (v.7-8).
Are we meditating on God’s word day and night (Psalm 1:2) and teaching our children the same? Are we in God’s word more than news feeds and news sources?
In response to the question, “What are we living for?” As Christians, we live to glorify God. Period. Let’s do it courageously.
Let’s seek Him and His wisdom.
Let’s live out the command to love God first. Let’s protect and train up our children as an act of obedience and love toward Him. Let’s prioritize. Most importantly, in these troublesome times, let us take heart and
Keep Christ as our Cause.
15 reasons WHY social justice issues need a Biblical worldview:
Planting God’s Seeds of Hope
*Brook Joy writes articles on Faith, Life, Culture, and her personal journey with Health (IBD). Brook is a chocolate-loving wife & homeschooling mama (and a Christian for 20+ years)… planting and growing God’s seeds of hope at missionzera.com