Wednesday, November 18, 2015

on Paris, refugees, and compassion...


***Disclaimer: I have stared at the publish button for 15 minutes. I still don't know if I should have pressed it. Please note, this is NOT a political post, this is not about letting the refugees in or keeping them out, it is about re-evaluating fear and faith, what it means to reconcile responsibility and compassion.***

Tonight, the wind is howling outside my window and all I can think about is the howling of war; the cries of the refugees, the cries of those in Paris, the cries of "what ifs" and political debates. 

Now let me tell you, if you know me at all, you know that I know about three percent of political things and I do not claim to be educated or know the answers. As a Christian, I should be more devoted to this kind of thing, I totally get that. I am not writing this as a political person, I am writing this as a Christian who is trying to reconcile it all; my heart is burdened, and I am trying to process it, and maybe you are too. It's okay that we don't know, because God does; it's okay that we feel a little messy and mixed up, because God is the foundation and the constant that we can lean into. None of us know the right answer in times like this, and I loathe seeing people debate over opinions on FB and other social media (which again, is why I am soooo hesitant to post this on the interwebs!) because we all claim to know more or be more right than one another. Friends, what I do claim is Christ and compassion, that there is love that rules out fear and a God who is in control, despite what we see as chaos. 

I read an article today from the Washington Post, it quoted Thomas Aquinas' brilliant words: "Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to 
take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts." #conviction
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"Fear is such a powerful emotion for humans that when we allow it to 
take us over, it drives compassion right out of our hearts…"
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It is easy to be paralyzed by fear, by prejudice, by evil. Our world has plunged into Islamophobia and more so xenophobia; our hearts are rapidly callousing against humanity.

Fear cripples; it debilitates us and robs us of security, cultivating a sense of chaos, and I am going to guess that just like me, you don't like how that feels. Can I admit something to you? I am a little fearful of what is happening right now. I sit here, thinking and over-analyzing and wondering and reading and praying. 

Another article has been circulating among the inter webs with information of American states who are refusing to accept Syrian refugees. In it, The Council on American-Islamic Relations (which to be honest, I didn't even know existed) states that "defeating ISIS involves projecting American ideals to the world. Governors who reject those fleeing way and persecution abandon out ideals and instead project our fears to the world…" OUCH. I do not want to be known as a Christian who projected her fears into the world, but rather, projected her faith into the world, knowing that God's heart is for the refugee, and mine should be too. I want to be able to see Jesus in these people, just like in Matthew 25, rather than letting my fear blind me. Is it easy to see Jesus in the refugee, the broken, the poor, the terrorist? No. Again, it is easy to be paralyzed by fear, by prejudice, by evil. It is also easy for the wicked to marginalize and take advantage of the weak; this is what ISIS is beginning to do... They are leveraging the brokenness of others in order to gain strength. Again, I am not offering any sort of plan or answer, I am simply stating that we must have compassion and we must be aware.

To cast out fear is to acknowledge that this faith-work is costly and uncomfortable; it is to recognize that the Gospel is for these people, that His heart is for these men, women, and children, and to turn them away is to turn Christ and His ways away. I think that God is more about the saving than the safety; it's counter-cultural and it will look risky and scary, but that is what might be what is needed right now, in this very place that we are in.

The fight against terrorism and ISIS and human trafficking and the Syrian refugee crisis is not a war against flesh and blood or a war against a people group or a person, it is a fight against the evil of this world, a fight that exists in a place where we already have the victory; we are fighting and praying against things which find their defeat in Christ.
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"...not a war against flesh and blood... we are fighting and 
praying against things which find their defeat in Christ..."
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My heart is heavy and I am praying for our world. America is in the prayers, ISIS is in the prayers, Paris is in the prayers. But my prayers are not for America, they are for humanity, which includes all people; the ISIS members, the refugees, those in politics and law enforcement, those sitting in the pews of churches, those sitting in bars and brothels. 

My prayers today are not for or against or prejudice or one-sided or politically educated or claiming to know how to solve these catastrophic problems; they are for our faith to displace our fear, a cry for mercy, wisdom, redemption, and compassion.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post, and I think you hit the nail on the head with fear vs compassion. Your thoughts mimic my own last Friday night, and I think we all need to take the time to pray, read, and ask just where our hearts need to be in these times. God's heart is certainly for the homeless, the refugee, and He never suggests we react in fear.

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