Wednesday, 25 November 2015

What are we to do about refugees from this ISIL war?

Serious, thoughtful questions I have about how we are to respond to potential refugees forced out from war-torn extremist Islamist areas, by those determined to create an "Islamist State/Caliphate." :

As followers of Jesus, with the teachings He clearly gave in the Sermon on the Mount and other places in the gospels, how are we supposed to treat people who have been pushed from their homes and countries by the Islamist terrorists? What about those who are Christians? What about those who have other beliefs or are from another tribal group? What about Muslims who have a different view of Islam than the terrorists, and are therefore considered by them to also deserve death?

What, I want to know, based on the teachings of Jesus himself, are we to do? Are we to hate? To send them back where they came from so that the terrorists can kill them anyway? According to New Testament teaching, are we actually supposed to war in return as they war? Are we supposed to save our skins by spewing hatred in return?

Or are we to be "blessed because of being persecuted for Jesus sake"? To love as God loves (John 3:16) with all that infers--including being willing to "carry our cross" even unto death? To love our enemies and pray for them, and "give a cup of cold water" in Jesus' name?

I'm not arguing. I'm asking totally serious questions. It's one thing for politicians and even everyday citizens who are not Christians to hate and kill in return, for that is the system of the "world"--but what should be the response of true followers of Jesus?

I don't mean the response of "Christendom's" institutional churches, like those that took part in the Crusades, and in black slavery, and in forced conversion (or annihalation) of aboriginal "pagans." I mean true followers of Jesus who want to do what he said, and follow his example of be willing to go to death.  This is what I am really trying to understand.  Do you have an answer?

It's very hard to know what to do, especially in a world full of fear and hate. It's very hard, even in easy times, to do what Jesus taught, and follow the example He Himself gave. But I'm feeling more and more that God may be calling our very non-Christian western civilization to "choose this day whom you will serve" even if it leads to martydom--and that He is also separating the sheep from the goats in judgment of how far we have strayed...

How, oh how, do we deal with all that is happening if we are TRUE Christians? Seriously?


And I also posted this on my Facebook "notes":

I am a migrant. And so are you.

We are all migrants: personally, as well as in our family history, our heritage. Whether we've moved from one country to another, or one town or another, or even from one neighborhood or house or job to another, we've migrated.  And we've migrated for many of the same reasons "those migrants" are migrating right now: financial (moving up or down the economic scale), current home no longer available, family or other troubles, looking for a place that better fits our beliefs and our desired lifestyle, escaping violence or persecution of one kind or another, wanting to share our belief systems with others (and convert them to our way of thinking and living), and so on and on.

Surely, when we think about "those migrants," we should stop for a moment and really think about our migrant experiences, our reasons, our feelings. About how our leaving affected not only ourselves, but those we left behind--and how we affected and changed the lives of those where we migrated to. Have we been good new neighbors? Did we take a job someone else already in the community had hoped to get? Have our religion, traditions, ways of thinking and living had an effect on our new community, whether we planned for that or not? Do we assume we've had a good effect on our new place--but we haven't gotten to truly know all the members of the community, and we haven't really listened to their feelings about us? Are we really aware of how our well-meant ideas and our "superior" lifestyle have affected those living in the community before we arrived?

What have we done that has changed things, that has had a negative affect on others, without our even realizing it? Have we inadvertently pushed others out by taking jobs they hoped for? By building "bigger and better" homes and thus raising the local housing values so they are no longer affordable to those who lived here before us? Or perhaps we are living lifestyles that go counter to those formerly accepted, and so, in their viewpoint, have brought down the value of the community? Have we joined with others who "see things our way"--whether in terms of politics, religion, economics, education--and become a select clique that has closed itself off from being neighborly and community-minded to all? Or through our combined power, forced changes that have transformed the community to the ways we think are best? Have we tried to convert others to our politics, religion, beliefs, lifestyle--and pushed those we are uncomfortable with or look down upon, to the "fringes" or even right out of the community that was theirs before we arrived?

Have we ourselves done what so many of us demand new migrants do: assimilate and become just like those of us already here? If not, if we continued to favor "our ways," even to small degrees, after we migrated, are not we ourselves guilty at some level of what we fear from new migrants?

We have all been migrants to some degree at various times in our lives. All of us. What kind of migrant have you and I been?  Can we ask of others to do what we ourselves were unwilling to do--whether that means "going back where you came from" or "assimilating completely to the ways of the new community"? Can we refuse to others the great freedoms we ourselves hoped for and acted upon when we migrated?

Let us remember, too, how we were received in our new country, or town, or neighborhood, or job, or school. Were we welcomed with open arms? Or not? How did we feel about that? What kind of welcome did we hope for? Are we willing to extend that same open-hearted welcome we dreamed of? How will these new migrants feel about our attitudes toward them, about the kind of welcome (or not) we are offering?

I am a migrant. And so are you. Let's think about that, carefully.

What are your thoughts? What do the teachings and actions of Jesus Himself tell us? How do we follow Him?

No comments: