My heart is torn and broken.
I prayed one day for God to open my eyes to the current refugee crisis we have not only in our country but throughout the entire world; not only the refugee crisis but the illegal immigration crisis that we have in America today. I asked God to give me the eyes of compassion that Jesus talked about in Matthew 25:31-46. The result broke my heart. The result ripped out my heart and made my heart wrench with pain: I saw the refugees and the illegal immigrants through the eyes of Jesus.
Many may respond, “But what about the Islamic extremists? They are going to try and establish a caliphate here in America! They are going to kill Christians for not converting to Islam!” or “Illegal Mexicans shouldn’t be here! They don’t deserve to be in our country, they’ve come here illegally and should be deported!”
There is a major storm brewing in our country. Our country is divided more than it ever has been. Not only is our country divided, but we as Christians, our church is divided. There is a storm sweeping across the nation and the church is being flooded by anger and division. I want to focus on two key verses: Matthew 8:23-27 and Matthew 25:31-46.
Call it prophecy, or call it divine intervention in my own personal life, but there is a great storm sweeping across our nation, and unless we repent, we will drown in the flood of hate.
Application teaching is not one of my strongest points, but this is a message that I have felt led by God for a while to get out. I will be breaking down the exegesis of both of these scriptures in a later lesson as part of my Internal vs External Righteousness series, so bear with me as that is not the intent of this lesson, but the application of the scriptures as I feel led by the Spirit to do so.
It’s going to be extremely hard to not get political when I talk about this, so I apologize in advance. My purpose is not to offend anyone but to speak the truth in love. This is a message that our country, especially Christians need to hear.
This is NOT from a liberal standpoint but from my heart that is will be clearly backed from Scripture. I have no backslid back into a liberal ideology, I am far from doing so. I am still a conservative and will be for the foreseeable future. This is a Christian biblical view, and not my worldly conservative view, although some of the thoughts do come from that.
Without any further introductions let’s dive into God’s Word.
Then Jesus saw go into the boat and started across the lake with His disciples. Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke Him up, shouting “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
Jesus responded “Why are you afraid? You have so little faith!” Then He got up and rebuked the wind and waves, and suddenly all was calm.
The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey Him!”Matthew 8:23-27 NLT
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And He will place the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him saying ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ and the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for you the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer saying ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?’ Then He will answer them, saying ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”– Matthew 25:31-46 ESV
There are three problems in our country in regard to the refugee and immigration crisis I see from these pieces of scripture:
1) People are afraid and have little faith that God will protect them in the midst of the storm. They live in constant fear as everyone is here to kill them or take over our country.
2) There is a severe lack of compassion for the increase of refugees and illegal immigrants coming into our country.
3) Some Christians are so politically minded when it comes to their views of the refugee crisis and illegal immigration, that they lose sight of Jesus in the process and begin to think like the world, instead of seeing things through the eyes of Jesus with love and compassion.
- Do not be afraid
Everyone is panicking. There are self-proclaiming Evangelical Christians who are so fearful that the refugees and illegal immigrants that are in our country are going to somehow take over everything and take away their God given liberties and freedoms.
The thought process of some of these Evangelicals is that all the refugees are going to kill everyone and every single one of them are Radical Islamists, and they want to establish Sharia Law and they will start persecuting and killing Christians. They have a fear that illegal immigrants are going to take away jobs from Americans when there are veterans who are unemployed and homeless.
We as Christians are not of this world, we are citizens of heaven first and foremost, and citizens of America last. We, as Christians, are refugees ourselves, strangers passing through until we are called home or Jesus’ second coming (Philippians 3:20).
Time after time there are many Scriptures that tell us to not be afraid and not to live our lives in fear. So why are we living our lives in such pandemonium that it has overcome us? Why do we give our fear to the world instead of giving our fear to the Lord?
Joshua 1:9 ESV says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
2 Timothy 1:7 ESV says “for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”
We as Christians must not fear the waves of that crashing up against our country. Remember: Jesus Himself rebuked the wind and the waves. He commanded the waves to be still in the midst of chaos. We as Christians need to pray for our country and speak peace into the waves crashing up against our coast. The spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you (Romans 8:11 NLT). We need to turn our eyes upon Jesus in the midst of chaos. Otherwise, the waves of the world will consume us and we will surely die.
We are commanded by Christ to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We are commanded to not repay evil or evil, but to respond with love, compassion, and forgiveness (Matthew 5:38-48).
What are we so afraid? For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (1 Timothy 1:7 KJV).
- The Least of These
This subject is a touchy one, and I get it. I understand the viewpoint of the current Presidential administration and that of his supporters when they want stronger immigration laws and to build a border wall, and the administration wants a travel ban from the countries where most of the radical Islamists are coming from. But I think there is a deeper issue that needs to be looked at and considered. Please bear with me.
I think it’s extremely important that we enforce stronger immigration laws. The current system we have for immigrants is so broken, it is impossible for people to become citizens. It’s much easier for them to illegally cross into the country and live here than it is to go through all the red tape to come into our country. I do agree that it is wrong for them to cross the border illegally and stay in our country. But, with that being said you need first understand why many of them are crossing into our country in the first place.
The lot of them have a legitimate reason as to why they are crossing the border to come into America, and it’s not to steal your job or to harm you. While there is a major systemic problem with the statistic of illegal immigrants and crime, that is an entirely separate issue.
The majority of them (meaning immigrants, not criminals) genuinely want a better life for themselves and their families, just the as any other red blooded American. These immigrants want better healthcare and a better way of life, just like you and me. Many of them are fleeing oppression from corrupt governments, or are escaping extreme poverty. Extreme poverty in Mexico is leaps and bounds in comparison to extreme poverty in America.
I was stationed in Monterey, California at a small Army post for three years. Inland by about 20 minutes is the Salinas Valley, also known as the salad bowl of America. Many fruits and vegetables that you buy in the supermarket today, are from the Salinas Valley or Watsonville area of the central coast of California. These immigrants are working dirty jobs that most Americans, even ones who are unemployed will not work. They spend hours busting their backs in the fields picking fruits and vegetables for us to eat, and most American’s would not want to do that job because it’s hard daunting labor.
Many of these immigrants are business or restaurant owners who provide to the economy. They want to live a better life here in America, than where they lived before. They want to live in America because they want to experience the same God given liberties and freedoms that we have that they don’t have living in Mexico or other South America countries.
I am not implying for amnesty. As a matter of fact, I am against amnesty because it will protect criminals and people who come to our country and do not provide anything back to society or the economy except to feed off the government. We have enough problems with American criminals and welfare bums who are perfectly able to work and provide nothing back to society or to the economy, they equally refuse to work and want to live off the system. I understand there are people who are physically and mentally unable to work. Those are not the people I am talking about. But again, that is not the issue at hand. The issue is a lack of compassion and understanding. Unless we have compassion and understanding for the least of these, we will never have compassion for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ when times are hard.
Our immigration system needs to be reformed greatly. I think there needs to be a change in the way people that I mentioned above can become citizens. If they are contributing to the economy, and have a business, then I think a few exception should be waivered and they are at a minimum. There should be a requirement that these immigrants work if they want to live here. No exceptions.
If there are people who are here and do not work, and or are criminals, they should be deported immediately, no questions asked. That should not be tolerated.
We need to have compassion. We are called by Jesus to have compassion for the least of these. Now that doesn’t mean you should open your home to an illegal immigrant or a refugee, you can help in other ways by giving your time to help them or by donating money to causes that benefit them. I’m not saying I have the answer to change the world, but what we are missing is a great witness opportunity here to share the message of the Gospel with the illegal immigrants by showing them love, and most importantly to the refugees that are coming here. We need to show them the love to Christ because we are commanded to do so.
The Refugee Crisis:
I must confess I am extremely torn on this issue. I am a war veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I have seen what radical Islamism is first hand. As a matter of fact, I have brothers and sisters in arms who have given their lives because of it. I am going to do my best to choose my words carefully while I explain my position on this.
Do I think there needs to be a travel ban on the countries that are written in President Trump’s executive order? Yes.
Do I think it’s necessary that we completely ban them permanently from entering our country? No.
We need to use discernment when it comes to this, the only way we can gain that wisdom is through the obedience of our government to God.
There needs to be tighter restrictions on those from the countries written in the travel ban from entering into our country, there should probably be more countries added to it. I think this needs to happen for our own protection. We cannot just blindly allow them to enter our country freely without certain restrictions. The evidence is clear in Europe right now, what a relaxed immigration system for those from such countries are doing right now. Terrorism is running ramped in Germany, Franc, and England. All three of these countries have similar freedoms to that of Americans (minus gun control, but that is an ENTIRELY different issue of which I will not get into). Now these countries are plagued with Islamic terrorism, so much to the point where it’s a part of their daily lives, many news sources in Europe have said so themselves; This is inexcusable. While this is my flesh speaking, and some of it may seem arrogant, so I apologize, but this is a reality. The reality is that we live in a fallen world, and Islam is not a peaceful religion, but a religion that centers itself on revenge and the death of those who do not believe what they believe. Whether you like that last statement or not, it is true.
The issue at hand is much greater than what I’ve said above. The other stark reality is, the majority of the people fleeing from these war torn countries are trying to escape ISIS. War, death and destruction are a part of their daily lives. All they want to do escape war and live in a country where there is peace and no war.
On the flip side, I don’t have an exact number, but there are some of them whom are fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are trying to escape persecution. ISIS is trying to exterminate Christians in the middle-east and are doing a very good job at it right now.
Should we only accept Christian refugees? No. But it’s a start.
Now many people will say that this isn’t our problem and we don’t need to worry about other countries and take care of America first. Part of me agrees with that and another part says that we are indeed responsible.
The other harsh reality is, that many of these war torn countries are at war because of the American military. That’s a very hard pill to swallow, even for me, someone who has been to war to fight terrorism. As I am typing this, it makes my stomach churn and I almost have tears in my eyes. But the reality is, we are the reason why their countries are at war, and we are the reason why ISIS has thrived because we relaxed a status of forces agreement with Iraq, and ignored credible intelligence in Syria about the formation of ISIS. We could have prevent ISIS and we didn’t. Now we are stuck in an endless war where there has no victory in site whatsoever.
A Christ Centered Focus:
Let me back off a moment and take a deep breath. The above view is a worldly view and not a Christ centered focused view. The view above is my opinion, and yes its very politically motivated. I am a Christian first, but I am a conservative.
It’s very hard for me to have a Christ centered view on this without my flesh getting in the way and getting angry about it. My flesh wants an all-out ban and the destruction of ISIS. Could the destruction of ISIS be God’s will? Perhaps. God abhors evil and so should we. But I think Matthew 5:43-48 says something different in how we, as Christians should respond to this travel ban and how we should respond to our enemies. I broke this verse down in a part two of Internal Vs External Righteousness – Great Expectations, but I want to look at it from the two above standpoints, in conjunction with what Jesus said in Matthew 25:31-46 and how we can parallel the two.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 ESV
We are called to show the love of Christ to our enemies, not only are we to love them, but Jesus tells us He wants us to pray for them.
This very illustration is of the fathers love and we are to be abounding in love as Jesus teaches. In that way you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven (v45a NLT).
I don’t think I really need to go into the detail of what the Bible says about loving your enemies because the verse speaks for itself. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but it is the Gospel and we are commanded that we obey Jesus’ teachings, this is not an option, nor are there are any exceptions to the above teachings.
There is clearly a lack of compassion from Bible believing, Evangelical proclaiming Christians who seem to lack the character trait for the least of these that Jesus was talking about in Matthew 25. I don’t want to keep beating a dead horse so I’ll move on to the next subject, I think you get my point by now.
- Politically (In)Correct:
Dear Conservatives, Jesus was not a Republican.
Dear Liberals, Jesus was not a Socialist.
Everyone needs to stop politicizing the ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ. The only thing Jesus ever said was to render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesers; and unto God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21 KJV). They were talking about paying taxes. Are we to obey our government? Yes. But as I said before, we are citizens of heaven first, Americans and our political affiliation is dead last. We ourselves are sojourners, refugees and immigrants to the land of the free, because of the brave and by the true grace and blessing of the one true God. There is no doubt that God has blessed the United States of America richly.
There is nothing wrong whatsoever with getting involved in politics, as a matter of fact if you know me well enough, you’ll know that it’s one of my greater passions in life.
But it becomes a problem when we are consumed more with politics than we are with God. Anything that satisfies and consumes us more than God is an idol, and idolatry is strictly forbidden (1 Corinthians 10:1-22). I am very guilty of the sin of placing politics before God.
While I have nothing against getting involved in politics, at one point I was very involved myself. I think we as Conservative Christians have placed more of an emphasis on politics than what we have on Jesus.
I am a recovering political activist. I used to be consumed with politics every day to where I was listening to political radio every single day. The only thing that ever resulted from it was anger. I was always upset and was stirred up about something or was always worried. Then one day, it hit me. I didn’t need to be so consumed by things of this world and the only thing that I should be consumed with is Christ. I made politics to be my idol instead of being satisfied and consumed in Jesus.
What breaks my heart is people who are claiming to be Republican Evangelical Christians are the ones lacking compassion for the least of these like Jesus was talking about. You know who is showing illegal immigrants and refugees compassion and literally exemplifying the love of Christ? The liberal left. Many of whom are anti-Christian and are the one are showing the attribute of loving others better than we are.
In conclusion, not only for myself but for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ: we need to stop worrying so much. The sky is not falling and the world is not ending (as of now anyway). It doesn’t matter who is President or who runs the House and the Senate of country, the forces of evil will not stop just because we have a Republican President. We need to be more Kingdom Minded. We need to have more compassion.
We as Christians need to have more compassion for the least of these like Christ commanded us. We are called to be humble, gentle and patient, bearing with one another in love (Ephesians 4:2). We need to show grace to others as Christ showed us grace and not to live like the world because God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
We are called to be compassionate to others because Christ was compassionate to us (Galatians 5:13).
We need to remember that we ourselves are not citizens of this world, but sojourners ourselves in a foreign land (1 Peter 2:11-12).
Stop and think on these things. Pray and ask God to reveal something to you through the reading of His Word about compassion.