Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Christian devotion: Rescuing Refugees - Exodus 22:21

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” – Exodus 22:21

            The recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad have resulted in a lot of paranoia and prejudice being expressed by politicians in public, people on the street, and even pastors from pulpits. Instead of being faithful, numerous Christians are being fearful and allowing heartless cowards to disrupt their lives. The whole point of being a terrorist is to foment terror and provoke insecurity; when we allow ourselves to be driven by our fears instead of relying upon our freedoms, we lose our liberty and become captive to tyranny.

            I am dismayed and deeply disappointed in political leaders who, through their xenophobia, seek to close our borders, reject refugees, and castigate an entire religion as being hostile, volatile, and violent. When we allow that kind of intolerance and prejudice to go unchecked, we start to go down a totalitarian path, the likes of which we have not seen or known in almost eighty years.

            The men, women, and children who are fleeing the Middle East are not seeking to fleece our resources, overturn our society, or destroy our civilization. They are running away from rabid religious extremists who want to eradicate them. If we were in the same tragic and fearful plight, we would want to get our families and friends to safety wherever we could find it.

            As Christians, we are known as People of the Book to the Islamic world. This means that they regard us as being shaped and influenced by God’s Word in our Bibles. We also, in the Bible Belt, take great pride in applying the scriptures in our daily lives. Since this is the case, then our attitudes and choices, our opinions and compassion for Syrian refugees, and others like them, should be based upon these words, which come directly from God:

“Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” – Exodus 22:21

            The tragic situation in the Middle East may take decades to heal; the helpless situation of the Syrian refugees can be dealt with now. We need to open our hearts and arms, our communities and borders to receive them. We need to be faithful Christians and not fearful citizens. We need to show compassion instead of rejection. We need to do what Christ, who was once a refugee, would do: we need to welcome them.

Questions for reflection

Am I going to live in fear or by faith? Am I willing to welcome or reject refugees?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, Your family once fled from the violence and tyranny of Herod, who wanted to kill You as a child. You know the anxiety of being a refugee; You understand the need to be welcomed and made safe. Help us to overcome our fears and apply our faith, according to God’s Word. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment or ask questions about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.

Today’s image is one of John’s drawings called Stellar Icon, featuring Mary and Jesus as refugees. If you would like to see a larger version, please click on this link: Mary.

1 comment:

anonymous said...

An excellent assessment and advice. It is truly sickening that so many Americans who claim to be Christian are behaving so contrary to that faith.

Thank you.

Don Cooley, Wheaton Il.
(Attended Erin briefly in the 60s)