I don’t usually write on current events but the latest stir over keeping Muslims out of the U.S. really demonstrates just how much we operate out of fear instead of love. Sadly, this includes Christians. And since I’ve been talking a lot about this fear-love paradigm, I thought it would be appropriate to comment on its latest manifestation here.
Case in point: the recent Paris and San Bernardino attacks have precipitated a sharp uptick in anti-Muslim rhetoric. At the top of the list is the “us against them” fear-mongering exploitation by Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, calling for closing U.S. borders to all Muslims. We also have Wheaton College, a conservative Christian college, recently suspending a hijab-wearing professor for her statement of solidarity with Muslims over the current prejudice and persecution leveled against them.
Before I go on, let me head off any Christian witch hunt in my direction by making it clear that I’m not a proponent of “Chrislam.” I AM a proponent of operating from love and not fear.
I don’t have to agree with people in order to care about them and treat them the way I would want to be treated. I think Jesus said something about that.
I’m also all for national security and stopping actual terrorism, but now we’re condemning a whole religion because of a few militant radicals?
Let’s talk about guilt by association for a minute. If we start banning all Muslims from coming into our country because a small minority have committed terrorist acts, should the government also ban all Christians because of acts of terrorism done by a few Christian militants? (Can we say, Oklahoma City bombing?)
Actually, all forms of terrorism, wars, violence, and man’s inhumanity to man are testaments to the failure to act out of love instead of fear. But that’s another subject.
What’s really telling, and sad, to me about this fear-based knee-jerk reaction is that Trump’s call to ban all Muslims is actually getting traction with a growing number of Americans, including many Christians.
So what’s next, internment camps? Pogroms? The Inquisition? Shall we put them all in ghettos? Will we feel safe enough from “them” then? Where is this all leading?
Operating out of fear always leads to suspicion, separation and rejection. It never ever leads to anything good, nor does it ever lead anyone to Christ. Actually, it has quite the opposite effect.
Rather than valuing people as individuals the way Christ values them (by giving His life for them), we wholesale reject and label them with “isms” in order to fence them out. That’s not prejudice, right? Ha!
So, which Bible are we reading anyway? It’s not the same one I read. At least, it doesn’t look like Jesus. Looks more like the Pharisees…or maybe, Barabbas.
On that note, we, as a nation, have not handled our fears very well. Ours is a long trail of tears and blood-soaked history of persecution and prejudice leveled against anyone that believes or looks differently than us—including justifying the evils of slavery and atrocities committed against Native Americans on our own soil…all for “God and country.”
Of course, this isn’t just an “American problem.” Historically, some of the worst atrocities against Jews and Muslims have been perpetrated by people calling themselves Christians.
Then we’ve had the Syrian refugee issue front and center in our minds. You do realize that Jesus and His family were refugees from a despotic dictator who was committing mass infanticide in their home country, don’t you? Thankfully, Egypt didn’t have an anti-immigration policy against refugees when Mary and Joseph were fleeing from Herod (see Matt.2:13-18).
Did we also forget that Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, who wrote about half of the New Testament, was a religious terrorist at one time? He persecuted the church “beyond measure and tried to destroy it.”
For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. (Gal.1:13-14)
What changed Paul? Christian retaliation? Internment? Exclusion? No, it was a supernatural encounter with Love! And he was never the same again. That should be instructive to our foreign policy.
We seem to have invented a version of Christianity that is totally foreign to the teachings of Christ or the apostles. When James and John wanted to call fire down on the Samaritans for not following Jesus, notice Jesus’ response (emphasis mine):
But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” (Luke 9:55-56 NKJV)
I’m specifically addressing my Christian brothers and sisters. Do we know “what manner of spirit” we are of when we head down this dark path of fear and persecution against a whole people group? As citizens of Heaven, what should our response be? It’s bad enough that we’ve lost our way as Americans, forgetting Liberty’s invitation of hope to the hopeless,“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…,” have we also forgotten who we are in Christ, and what a Christ-like response would actually look like in these troubled times in which we find ourselves? Let’s not sink into fear but let Christ’s perfect love cast it out.
As I said in my last post, “A Savior was born to us, and lived with us, but He also lived for us. So when He died, He died as us. Now, He lives in us….For Peace has come, and is now living on the earth in men and women of good will.” May this be said of us. Amen.