Be brave…

I see you, brothers and sisters.  I hear the tremor of fear in your voice, disguised as rage. I understand the context of your words, and I see the panic between the lines.  I know all too well this brave posturing, as you attempt to bolster yourself and those around you. I look in the mirror and the fear is reflected back at me. I share in your angst. I know the anxiety that is escalating, I understand deeply the worry that etches itself upon your hearts.

I am weary from the dread that sits in the pit of my stomach, that tears at my soul.

As the world, in all its turmoil, in all of its brokenness, grieves the loss of life in Paris, in Beirut,  in our neighborhoods, and in corners of the world we’d rather forget, we are faced with a choice.

We can choose to live in this fear, a fear that can consume us, destroy us,  cripple us, paralyze us. We can choose to act out in fear, shutting down borders, refusing to aid those in need, stopping assistance to those who are hurting and needy.  We can act out in hatred, seeking vengeance, looking for revenge, watching for a chance to hurt someone else. We can look suspiciously upon anyone and everyone who is different from us. We can let the hatred and animosity grow in our hearts.

Or, we can live recklessly in faith. We can live with love.  We can push aside our fears and open our arms up to the needy, the homeless, the stranger, the refugee.  We can live out our Christian faith just as Jesus asked us to, welcoming another.  We can have Jesus be our safety net, in a world that is completely unsafe. We can live out His command to us to deny ourselves, our wants, our desires, our security, and take up our cross to follow Him.

Matthew 16: 24-27  Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. 

Those are hard words to read…and even harder to live out.

I won’t lie to you. It is easier for me to live in fear. It is easier to want to exact revenge. It is easier to agree with those who want to shut down our borders, to think that might keep us safe. It is easier to hide in my home, behind this computer screen, and spout off hate and anger.

But if I want to cling to my faith, in my beliefs, in my assurance in Christ, then I should MUST live a life of reckless love.  Following Christ comes with a cost.  And that cost might just be my life, my security, this comfortable bubble that I reside in.

My heart tells me one thing, leads me down one path, relies on a deep faith and trust. But my head, the rational side of me, leads me down another.  I know that it is madness, really, to live a life in total commitment to God. It is craziness to sacrifice security for the unknown. It is faith that burdens my heart and urges me to seek after the things, not of this world, but the next. I am in this state of dissonance, an unease that I can’t shake.

I am an American by birth. I was lucky to be born here, in a place where I am free to spout off any idea, critique any leader, worship in whatever religion I choose.  But I am a citizen of Heaven, first and foremost. I pledge my allegiance, not to man or country, but to the God-Man who came and sacrificed Himself to save me. To save you. To save those that persecute us, and attack us, and threaten our way of life. His love is boundless,  His mercy is unfailing, and His forgiveness is for each and every one of us. For all of humanity.

How can we, if we claim Christ as our Savior, refuse to share Him, refuse to act in a Christ-like manner to our fellow human?  How can we, under the guise of “safety”, refuse safe harbor to those in need? How can we choose to ignore His commands to love our neighbor, to love our enemy?

I can’t imagine what it must be like, to flee my home, to try to save my life, and the lives of my family. I can’t imagine what it must be like to live in a place where bombings are common-place, where my safety is at risk. Every. Single. Day.  I can’t imagine watching friends being tortured, seeing family being killed, having the ravages of war be a part of my existence.  I can’t imagine leaving everything I have, not knowing where I would end up, not knowing if I’d survive the journey.

Yes, I know there may be risks to welcoming refugees. I understand that there is no good way to screen every single person that passes over our borders at this time. But I also know that most of the people seeking refuge are seeking an escape from the horror of their lives. These are children, women, men, families, trying to find a way out from a war-torn country, trying to find safety. All they desire is a place to find refuge. A place of harbor. A place that welcomes them, loves them, and treats them with kindness and dignity.

We are at a juncture now, where we have the opportunity to show true Christian love and compassion to those who are hurting. Our actions will be remembered for generations. What we do now will influence how this world sees Christianity.  Isn’t it better to be known for our acts of compassion than the silliness over a red cup?

candles french

Matthew 5:14-16   “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Let it not be our words, but our actions that bring Christ to the world, to the broken, to the hurting. Let us shine His light into the darkness, for the glory of God.

Be brave, sisters and brothers.

For more information about the work that one organization is doing to help refugees, the least of these, visit this link.

Need more Scripture to help understand why we, as believers, need to offer help? Or verses that help bolster you to be brave, to take courage in this time of uncertainty and fear?

Matthew 14: 27-31

Matthew 25: 34-46

Psalm 118:6 

Psalm 3:6

 1 Peter 3:14

 Matthew 5:43-45