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Fear, Love, Refugees, and What I Learned This Year
Refugees. This word has lit up my Facebook feed. It incites anger and fear from both sides of the political party system in America. I have friends that fall on every spectrum of the political system: extreme right, extreme left, centrist, libertarian, and apathetic. Everyone is mad about something.
Some people are angry because they feel that refugees should be given a chance to escape the tyranny that they are facing. They think that we should welcome them with open arms because that is the history of what America is about. After all our families were all refugees once, right? People are infuriated because governors are slamming doors to their states open and refusing to accept people because of their religion.
Other people are angry because they don’t think we should open the doors of our country to refugees. They are furious that Obama would make a decision to allow people in that might affect the safety of our country during such a tumultuous time in history. We as American’s should have the right to safety, we should have the freedom to not feel afraid. We should be able to lock the doors to our house and keep the bad guys out right?
Dear Christian Friends. I ask that no matter where you stand on this battle that you hear me out. I am not going to give you facts and figures. I am not going to tell you that there are no muslims in the refugees coming or that everyone coming is pro America. I am not even going to tell you that you are going to be safe. I can’t guarantee any of that.
I am also not going to give you statistics about terrorists or tell you the steps to get into the USA. I am not going to show you heart provoking pictures of poor people and children crying. In fact I know that likely I am not even going to change your mind about anything.
Instead I am going to tell you about what God has taught me this year.
The most powerful lessons that I have learned this year are about fear and love.
I have always thought that love was easy for me. I feel deeply. I care deeply. In fact I wouldn’t have even come on The World Race if that weren’t true. I care about orphans and widows and the poor.
“Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and the oppressed.” Psalm 82:3
I believe that verse with my whole heart and have for as long as I can remember. I want the people who don’t have to have the opportunity to have. I care deeply about the innocent. I remember praying when I was young, “God break my heart for the things that break yours” and He has truly answered that prayer throughout my life.
But it wasn’t until I came on the World Race that he fully answered that prayer.
In Thailand I got a tattoo on my wrist of a vine of leaves and the words “choose to love”. It was inspired by the quote, “It is easy to love a rose, but it takes a great deal to love a leaf. Loving the beautiful is ordinary, but loving the ordinary is beautiful.” I may have always easily loved the people who it is easy to love, but I knew that God was calling me to something more. I knew he was calling me to a deeper kind of love.
God began to call me into a kind of love that was something that I had to choose. People are NOT always easy to love. People hurt you. People lie to you. They steal from you. They can be back stabbing, alcoholic, abusive, murderers, rapists, and terrorists. It is also hard to love people who are different from you. It is hard to love people with different values, different beliefs. It is hard to love someone who is ignorant or someone who is hateful.
But God told me that I needed to love with that kind of love anyway.
If I am going to love people. If God is going to break my heart for the things that break his, that includes loving all those people who are just unloveable to me.
Luke 6 says “27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. 29 To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. 31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. 32 If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great.”
What kind of crazy love is it that I could possibly love the people who want to hurt me?
I didn’t used to think that I was affected that much by fear. I mean I gave up my life for a year with no plans for the future. I didn’t know how I was going to raise that much money. I didn’t know what my purpose in leaving a good job and a great community to come on the World Race was, but I wasn’t afraid. I just trusted that God would work it out.
“fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
You see, something I have learned this year is that fear is the opposite of trust. It is the opposite of believing God is with me. When I am afraid of coming home because I don’t know what I am doing when I get there, I am not trusting that God has a plan. When I am afraid that I will never truly be happy if my life doesn’t involve getting married and having kids, I am not trusting that God’s plan for me is the best plan. When I am afraid that I am not good enough or that I am just not measuring up, I am not trusting that God made me exactly the way that he intended to make me.
I am commanded to trust God. I am also commanded to cast all my cares upon him. I am told that fear is not from God. Furthermore, I have also learned that fear is the opposite of love. 1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not a been perfected in love.”
If I truly live in the will of God. If I am fully trusting him and operating the love that he wants me to live in then I am not afraid. Fear isn’t going to stop me.
Dear Christians. Dear friends. Please know that I say these things out of love and not out of any condemnation. I am not perfect. I still live in fear so often, but God has really shown me what life could be like if I stopped being afraid. He has shown me what the world could be like if Christians stopped being afraid.
If we stopped being afraid that God would not supply our needs, we would have more than enough money to give to the poor and hungry.
If we stopped being afraid of persecution and death, we would stand boldly and proclaim the name of Christ in nations where to do so is against the law.
If we stopped being afraid of terrorists, we would welcome the refugees with open arms and love them the way that Christ has commanded us.
It isn’t easy to not be afraid. But God never calls us to fear. He never commands us to protect our lives or our earthly possessions. What God does call us to is to love. He commands us to welcome refugees, to help orphans and widows, to love our enemies, and to give our tunic to the one who steals our cloak.
If we welcome refugees and the terrorists strike it would be a tragedy, but God commands me not to be afraid of that. He calls me to perfect love, and I can’t love like that if I am hesitant because of the outcome might be.