In the aftermath of the senseless attacks on Paris, I along with many others, find myself trying to make sense of the senseless. The best place I know to go is to God’s word.
In John 16:33, Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
In this statement, he says that we will have trouble in this world, this is a sure thing. Holding onto hope amid all of the fear and distress can seem hard, but I love what the last sentence says, “I have overcome the world.” He lives, and He has already won the victory for us on the cross.
There are so many divisive political arguments taking place these days, both online and in other public forums, even in families. I see friends and family members engaging in a contest of wills to prove who is right regarding whether or not we should let Syrian refugees into this country.
I have to bite my tongue, shut off my phone, or close the computer to keep myself from entering into these arguments. I, like most of us, have very strong opinions on political matters, but this to me is not an easy issue to solve.
On the one hand, the Word says, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels (Hebrews 13:1 NKJV).”
Some arguments are using the verse Leviticus 19:33 to justify a certain political position, as it states, “And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” God here is speaking to the Israelites in the Old Testament regarding strangers who are already dwelling in their land. Leviticus 18:26 further admonishes both the Israelites and strangers who dwell within the land to keep God’s statutes and not to engage in any practices contrary to His Word.
On another hand, and perhaps most ambiguous is when Jesus says in Matthew 7:6, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” This comes shortly after Jesus makes the admonition not to judge, and to look at the plank in one’s own eye before trying to get the mote out of your brother’s eye.
I had some difficulty understanding, so in writing this, I Googled another website: http://www.gotquestions.org/pearls-before-swine.html
This provides a good explanation of what Jesus is saying here that I believe makes sense. The article states that Jesus is explaining to believers the difference between judgment and discernment. I don’t believe Jesus is telling us to lump everyone into one category or encourage prejudice. Quite the opposite, as most of us would be considered Gentiles today, since much of the Old Testament is addressed to the Jewish people. We are also not to turn a blind eye to those in need, but make every effort to extend to them the love of Christ, and above all, try to reach people with the message of the Gospel.
(I am happy to say, by the way, that I discovered through reading about all of the goings-on as of late that there are a number of Christian ministries that are ministering to refugees right now wherever they are, providing for their material needs, such as food and clothing, and a number of teams of medical personnel tending to health care needs.)
However, I don’t believe either than Jesus is saying that we as believers should trust people willy-nilly, because He knows that there are some who wish to destroy, to “turn and tear in pieces.” An analogy would be that if a homeless, hungry, naked person showed up at my door in need of help, I would be remiss in demonstrating the love of Christ if I didn’t try to help that person in some way, whether offering food, or clothing or pointing them to a place that they could go for shelter, etc. However, just speaking the truth here, I am most likely not going to allow that person to stay in my home and risk putting my children and family in danger from someone I don’t know. This, I believe, is where the discernment comes in.
This quandary is by no means an easy one to answer, and I most certainly don’t know all of the right solutions, other than that I believe the best thing we can do is to pray and seek God’s guidance, (and volunteer to help in whatever ways we can), and to pray for our leaders, whether or not we disagree with them. And for anyone, citizen or refugee, who has not yet heard about how much Jesus loves them.
“Father, it is hard to put into words the anguish we feel at the pain and heartache experienced around the world today, both at home and abroad, because of all that has transpired. It is easy to be afraid and disillusioned; yet You have given us hope that You have overcome. Help us to remember that our ultimate trust, our Hope, is in You and You alone. Be with our leaders, Father, that our country will turn toward You and seek Your wisdom. I seek Your wisdom on their behalf too, Father, as I know that You are able to deliver us from any sort of trial that we can encounter, and that You are mighty. Please bring Your peace and comfort to those that have been affected by these events, and to those that are being forced to flee their homes, Lord. Please give us wisdom and guidance as to how we should help, how we as a nation should proceed. Above all, help us as Christians to reach others, either at home or abroad with the love of Christ. Thank You Lord for Your grace and great love for us all. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”