From Joe Calabello: What should our country do about refugees in general and the Syrian refugees in particular and how can a Christian navigate this issue without being upset by the many emotionally charged perspectives surrounding it or without being insensitive to other’s views?
There may not be a scripture that speaks directly to the refugee issue, but God’s Word can still guide us through these questions and bring us to a place where we can trust God working through the agency of man to make decisions that are both wise and compassionate.
At the forefront of this conversation are the issues of compassion and security. Everybody has an opinion including me. But so many people, including political leaders, are presenting these two important issues as mutually exclusive, when it doesn’t have to be a choice between one or the other.
Unfortunately, much of the discussion about refugees isn’t a discussion at all, but rather an impassioned casting of opinions and perspectives that are causing much division between colleagues, Christians and our nation’s leaders. Instead, there should be an effort to find as much common ground as possible. I’m talking about the common ground of how to pursue the welfare of refugees without endangering the lives of Americans. Some perspectives seem informed and sensible while others seem much more subjective and emotionally charged. Either way, I believe there is counsel from above that can help umpire our responses to the questions about compassion and security.
Let’s be honest. Though I have my own opinions on what should be done concerning compassion and security, I am not part of the decision-making process. My perspectives on the refugee situation might generate good debate and even offer convincing arguments for or against someone else’s ideas, but my thoughts and ideas lack the kind of first hand knowledge and critical information needed to make the best decisions on behalf of our country’s security as well as the welfare of refugees. From my armchair at home, I can’t tell if a person is a real refugee or a misguided terrorist. So how do I navigate through the options of what is best for the refugees and what is best for the homeland? I have to trust God working through those who are in positions of authority.
First, I recognize that I’m not in a critical decision-making role. Therefore I must think about who is. We have elected officials and heads of resettlement organizations who are better equipped and informed in making these decisions. I should pray for everyone involved in making these decisions.
- Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, and intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
Second, there are many elected leaders who are offering what seems to be wise yet compassionate counsel. Many have called for slowing down the process of admitting refugees so that safeguards can be strengthened and expanded before a refugee can safely be granted asylum and resettlement. I can pray that our leaders will make unified decisions that are wise and compassionate and in the interest of all people.
- Romans 13:1-4 “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”
These encouragements from 1 Timothy 2 and Romans 13 can keep me from attacking those who have a different perspective about the refugee issue than the one I hold. At the same time, these principles should discourage me from becoming cynical and mistrusting of the ultimate decisions being made at the highest levels of government where I don’t have a seat at the table. I don’t want to pretend to have the necessary and relevant information that those responsible for these decisions have. So even if I do have an opinion of what should be done, I should still pray for our leaders and pray for all people everywhere while trusting that God will help our leaders make the best decisions on behalf of the many communities they represent.
Posting your views on social media is fine and so is writing to your representatives with your thoughts and concerns. But don’t forget to first make the extra effort to pray for God’s help to bring about wise and compassionate solutions through our leaders so that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.