As a card-carrying member of social media in many forms, it came as no surprise to me to witness several posts and opinions about the current debate over whether to allow Syrian refugees into the United States, specifically in light of the recent events in Paris. Arguments have been made for many different scenarios and solutions, and as is par for the course on social media, lots of information has been shared; some of it truth, some of it lies.
As I said, none of this was particularly surprising. What was surprising, at least to this rather naive blogger, was the heated spirit in which many people conducted themselves, especially in times of disagreement. Perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me; I, of all people, have been known to plead my case somewhat passionately and emphatically when it comes to certain subjects. But I think the root of my surprise can be found in the realization that the majority of these angry posts were made by my fellow Christians.
I have stated before on this blog that I am a Christian, and that is still the case, and always will be. Christians are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and you could point to any number of Christians who certainly did not represent Christ. Right now I am finding many of those Christians on my Facebook news feed.
Please understand that I am not trying to point a finger at anyone in particular. This is a trend that I have seen rise across Facebook and that I predict will only grow as time passes.
As I said before, Christians are not perfect. But we are called to love our neighbor, and build each other up, and represent Christ to a world who might not know Him. That is our mission. That is the foundation of our faith. Those things are some of the very few things that I am 100% certain about and could not be swayed to change my mind over.
However, I find that such instances are far and few between. I can only think of a handful of subjects that there is absolutely no room for debate over.
The Syrian refugee situation is not one of those subjects.
But as I scroll down my Twitter account and my Facebook feed, I see that many people are sure that their opinion is the right one. They are positive that what they believe is the only truth out there. And I think it is extremely important to stand firm in your beliefs. There is no point to having an opinion if you don’t believe it yourself.
I just think that by choosing anger and heated debates over civil discourse and respectful words, we are allowing terrorism in our country regardless of whether any Syrian refugees ever set foot on our soil.
I will be the first person to tell you that I am not always current on politics and world news. I am not usually the first one to have information on what President Obama has said lately or how many countries we have soldiers in. But it doesn’t take a political analyst to see that this country is being divided without a single shot being taken, without a single person’s life ending.
We are allowing ourselves to be sucked into a black hole of anger and judgment and narrow-mindedness that, in my opinion, will be more damaging than anything else.
And please know that I am not calling us all to be wishy-washy, without opinions or beliefs. Our beliefs, especially as Christians, are a crucial part of who we are. We are called to stand for God’s truth and His justice and mercy. I believe Jesus is the Son of God and that He died for our sins. I believe that there is only one way to heaven. I believe in the right to own guns and I believe that immigration laws are important and I think you should vaccinate your kids. I am not asking you to just hold hands and throw all your cares away and focus on happy feelings and ignore the terrible truths of the world.
What I am doing is calling all Christians, myself included, to ask yourself the motives behind your emotions and words.
Are you afraid of war? Are you defensive of your opinion because you are frustrated that no one seems to understand? Are you filled with so much compassion for the Syrians that you have no room for compassion for your friends? Are you afraid for your own children? Is your faith shaken by recent events? Do you think saying your words more forcefully will get your ideas across better?
The thing about Syria and the refugees is that there isn’t really a middle ground. You can’t kind of want them to come – at the end of the day, we will have to make a decision as a nation. They’re either in or they’re out. Certainly we can add some conditions and caveats, but when viewed in the most simplistic form, those are the options. And that means there will be some disagreements, because someone will eventually lose this argument.
But the thing about Christians is that we are called to love our neighbor – Syrians and fellow Christians alike.
So I would encourage you to consider your words carefully, Christians. Stand firm in your beliefs while loving your neighbor. Speak the truth, but don’t speak it in anger or fear. I am including myself in this – no one is immune to reacting out of fear or distress or frustration. If you think you are not the problem, you probably are. You are, and I am, and all of us are because we are not perfect. Only God is perfect and holy and just, and no matter what the outcome of this situation is, He will still be all of these things. From the creation of the world to the terrible attacks in Paris, God has never changed.
That is the truth that should drive our opinions. That is the hope we need to cling to when discussing such heavy and emotional subjects. That is the grace we need to be thankful for as we exercise our ability to debate controversial subjects without fear of persecution.
I urge you, fellow Christians, to be an ambassador for Christ in all that you say and do.