Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Thinking out loud: Changing hearts & minds

There are moments I think it might be a good idea to close the borders and keep Syrian and other refugees out. Force them back “home” where they “belong.”

I mean, think about it.

If they come into our country and visit many of our churches, they will be met with anger, suspicion, and anything other than welcome.

Ostracized and marginalized, they will likely become isolated and susceptible to ISIS and other propaganda. The message they hear is one that will resonate with their experience.

In the end, after they become radicalized, they will point to their less-than-warm “welcome” by American churches and American Christians as the triggers.

After all, look what happens to non-violent, non-Muslims who are hurt by Christians and leave the church.

They attack the church every chance they get, in books, articles, on TV.

Transfer this vitriol to a culture where violence tends to be more acceptable and, well, it’s not going to be pretty.

On the other hand, taking the long view, doing what Jesus commanded and called His people to do -- loving, accepting, evangelizing -- will change hearts and minds in a positive way.

And outcomes.

Accomplishing this loving, accepting, evangelizing here, within the comfort and safety of our shores, will be far easier than trying to accomplish it over there, in the middle of the chaos.

Over there, where the refugees are in desperate flight or are being held like prisoners in camps and worse, a message of hope and peace is hard to get through.

Ears are deaf when bellies are empty and nights are cold.

Fortunately, there are those churches where refugees are welcome. There are those Christians who are helping, who are actively loving, accepting, and evangelizing these lost ones.

So, ultimately, maybe it’s more logical and rational to actually welcome refugees. To let them in now. As many of them as we can fit.

Then expose them, in love and kindness, to God’s Word and His Gospel, both through preaching and teaching as well as through relationship and care. Be Jesus to them.

Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know. I’m just thinking out loud. What do you think?

What do you think? Should we welcome Syrian and other refugees into our country? Keep them out? Build a wall? Screen them based on religion? Why or why not? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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