The saying goes, “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.”
It’s not my voice shaking, but my fingers on the keyboard. I can’t stop the pounding in my chest or the torrent of thoughts in my head. I’m a born justice-seeker. It’s built into my DNA and it accounts for the “J” in my Myers-Briggs INFJ personality profile.
Injustice infuriates me. It causes rage to seep from every pore in my body.
On the other hand, I’m a self-professed people-pleaser who actively avoids confrontation and bends over backward to “be nice” and not ruffle feathers.
So let me say from the get-go: this post is gonna offend some of you.
It’s going to make you angry and you’re going to “unsubscribe” or “unfollow” or whatever it is you do. Some of you might even hurl angry comments my way, but truthfully, my comment section has been crickets over here so at this point I’d actually appreciate any action I could get.
Here’s what you need to know about me—what those of you who read my words regularly already know:
I love Jesus.
I love the Gospel message of love coming down to save the world. It means everything to me. And like the apostle Paul in his letter to the Roman church,
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” Romans 1:16
So if what I have to say here today offends you, I will point you back to the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ. And as his disciples were told to do, I will shake the dust off my feet and move on.
We here in the United States have a problem and it is this:
American Christians don’t believe the Gospel anymore.
Oh, sure, we think we do. But what we believe — or at least what our speech and our actions communicate— is not the Gospel message at all.
Here is the gospel message in a nutshell:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
To summarize: God makes humans. Humans mess up and turn away from God. God still loves humans. So much that He takes drastic measures to save them. He sends His Son to become one of them–not to condemn them for messing up, but to save them. Because He loves them.
It’s so simple a child can understand it.
But apparently, a huge chunk of the new “American Nationalism” Christians cannot.
August 15, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
A handicapped Syrian refugee woman cries as other refugees lift her on a wheelchair at the Greek-Macedonian border, August 22, 2015. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
We have a crisis on our hands with evil terrorists who are wreaking havoc in the world. Because of the terror they spread, we have a refugee crisis as well. People have fled from their homes because they and their children are in imminent danger. They are quite literally running for their lives.
And now, because of the incident last week in Paris, we Americans (particularly those among us who like to brag most about our Christianity) are buckling down and puffing out our chests to oppose the threat of terrorists hiding among the refugees.
Here’s my biggest problem with it all. I am a mother. If my children were in danger, I would move heaven and earth to keep them safe.
- If it meant fleeing a war-torn country, I would take that chance.
- If it meant crossing a border into an unwelcoming nation, I would risk it.
- If it meant leaving behind my home and all my belongings, I wouldn’t even think twice.
So when I see pictures of Syrian refugees (and I mean actual photographs from reliable news sources), I can’t help but impose the face of my own children. I can’t help but think how desperate I would feel in that situation to find refuge for them. Of how I would beg, borrow, or steal in order to provide their basic needs and give them a chance at life.
Lynsey Addario/VII Syrian refugees crossing into northern Iraq near Dohuk, Iraq, August 21, 2013
Contrast that with the prevailing “Christian” attitude of many Americans right now: the insistence that we lock our doors tight and pretend nobody’s home.
Here’s a news flash for those of you who only get your “news” from sensationalist right-wing sources: these refugees are actually human beings. Human beings created in the image of God. God loves and cares for them.
He cares for and is on the side of the innocent.
The truth you don’t want to acknowledge? The vast majority of these refugees are innocents.
MAJDAL ANJAR, LEBANON – NOVEMBER 12 (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
A Syrian woman changes her child’s diaper as migrants and refugees queue at a camp to register after crossing the Greek-Macedonian borderon September 22, 2015. NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images)
A Syrian refugee child sleeps in his father’s arms after arriving on a dinghy from the Turkish coast to the northeastern Greek island of Lesbos. (Photo AP)
As a mother, as a Christian, and as a human being, I will never understand a philosophy that blames innocents for nothing other than where they happened to be born. Because let me assure you, if you had been born in Syria, you would likely be a Muslim too. And you would be fleeing your war-torn country with your children in tow right at this moment. The tables turned, you yourself would be the refugee.
So I have to ask, with all sincerity, “American Christians, do you actually believe the Gospel?”
The overwhelming rally cry of “American” Christianity over the years is that we must return this great nation to its Christian roots. We complain that God is taken out of our schools and our public venues, that the secular humanists and the atheists and (vilest of all) the “liberals” want to remove God from our very way of life.
“American” Christianity proponents lecture long and hard over the importance of “family values” and basic decency. They vilify any who oppose the “Christian” way of life as they stand up loudly for what they believe.
And then the opportunity comes to prove it.
The unthinkable happens and the “Christian” America is handed a real and tangible opportunity to put faith into action. To live out the words they are so fond of preaching with vehemence from both the political dais and the pulpit.
We have a golden opportunity to show what we believe. And what do we do instead?
We slam the door in love’s face.
Children wait behind a fence to pass with their families in the southern Macedonian town of Gevgelija. (AP Photo/Borce Popovski)
June 14, 2015 CREDIT LEFTERIS PITARAKIS / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) staff assist a young girl in a wheelchair as she enters, along with other migrants and refugees, a registration camp after crossing the Greek-Macedonian border near Gevgelija on November 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ROBERT ATANASOVSKI (Photo credit should read ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
If you are one of these Christians who has decided that we have every right and obligation to shut our doors to refugees seeking asylum, perhaps you should try turning off your beloved cable news channel and opening your Bible instead.
What greater opportunity to share the gospel — the actual Good News that Jesus offers — than with the oppressed, the unwanted, the endangered. The homeless, the destitute, the orphaned, the hungry, the naked, the lost. Those who are running for their lives, just as Mary and Joseph did with Jesus in tow 2000 years ago.
We say we believe in a God who desires to save all people—but we make blanket decisions on whom to exclude. We decide based on our “American values” who is in and who is out. And we turn away people who look different and who come from the very part of the world where our own Lord and Savior made his home.
I say this with all the grace and love I can muster, which admittedly is not enough right at this moment.
But still, the fire in my belly might explode if I don’t speak this truth: if you are allowing politicians, corporate media organizations, and misinformed fear-mongerers to direct your faith,
You. Are. Wrong.
I understand the pull. We are born with a natural curiosity and an appetite for outrage. In our media-saturated world, we get more information than we know what to do with and false prophets abound. It’s easy to fall into the mob mentality.
But it’s wrong.
A Syrian man walks amid destruction in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on April 10, 2013. DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
To those of you who get your gospel from Fox News or Matt Walsh or Donald Trump: I’m sorry, but you are wrong.
You are fond of saying that Christians must not tolerate sin — that we are commanded by God to stand up against the evils of homosexuality and abortion and liberalism. You make heroes out of the likes of Kim Davis and Joshua Fueurstein and the Duggars — people who “uphold the faith” in the midst of what you call “persecution.”
And yet when an actual opportunity to spread the gospel falls into your lap, when a door opens wide for you to be a witness, a light in the darkness, proclaiming God’s love, mercy and compassion for people — ALL people — of His long-suffering patience and desire that ALL come to Him, how do you respond?
You stand your “holy” ground and applaud the bullies who brutally slam the gates shut and erect fences of barbed wire in the faces of children. Children who could be yours if you simply had the misfortune of being born in a different place.
So I say it unabashedly.
You. Are. Wrong.
This. Is. Wrong.
It is a slap in the face of true Gospel.
PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
I’m not a preacher. Maybe if I’d been born into a different faith tradition I would be. But I’ve read and studied the Bible. I know Jesus.
And I know the Gospel. It’s my fight song.
There’s no need for me to come up with fancy words or rhetoric to defend my position— both Old and New Testaments do the work for me.
You say we Christians should stand up for what is right? I will do just that.
I will stand on the side of justice, of love, mercy, and compassion. Of grace and goodness and of the Gospel message of my Lord Jesus Christ.
Don’t sing your Christmas carols of a baby laid in a manger and then with smug certainty turn your back on homeless, terrified children begging for a chance at life.
It’s hypocrisy at its worst. You sit beside your lighted tree and tell the Christmas story to your children, the part about how there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn. . . and then in an irony that is completely lost on you, you become the innkeeper in the story. You shut out the very Son of God.
A man carries a young girl who was injured in a reported barrel-bomb attack by government forces on June 3, 2014 in Kallaseh district in the northern city of Aleppo. Some 2,000 civilians, including more than 500 children, have been killed in regime air strikes on rebel-held areas of Aleppo since January, many of them in barrel bomb attacks. BARAA AL-HALABI/AFP/Getty Images
Perhaps you are right about one thing.
Maybe there is a War on Christianity after all.
It’s just not the war you thought it was.
Instead, you are the ones perpetrating it. The modern day Pharisees who would gleefully hang a young middle eastern carpenter on a cross because of his radical talk of a different kingdom. You would string him up while shouting “terrorist” and boast of your bravery and fortitude.
That’s the real war on Christianity. But like the Pharisees, you’re too blind to see it.
Lord, have mercy on us.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand there’s a danger factor. You say you’re protecting your own. There might be a terrorist among them, these refugees, and we can’t take that chance. “What if they killed our children?” you ask.
Well the truth is, we are doing that job all by ourselves. We stood by three years ago as our children WERE gunned down in a lazy Connecticut town while attending school.
And We. Did. Nothing.
We’ve ignored statistics and facts and the standards set by every other civilized nation and we keep killing ourselves. All because we are more enamored with our weapons than we are with actual human lives. In the days that followed the Sandy Hook tragedy, when we refused to change our laws to protect the innocent, we laid the lives of our children as sacrifices on the altar of the almighty NRA (a modern day Molech if there ever was one).
American Christians, will you ever wake up?
You say there’s a holocaust going on under our noses. You speak of Planned Parenthood and “pro-choice” voters as “baby-killers” and post horrific videos of abortion online. You claim to be pro-life. And yet you can view an image of a dead three-year old on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea and are so desensitized to the fact that he was an actual human being, one of the “red and yellow, black and white” you sing about in Sunday School, that you can still defiantly look at the eyes of other children like him and say, “NO.”
Washed up body of a refugee child who drowned during a failed attempt to sail to the Greek island of Kos, at the shore in the coastal town of Bodrum, Mugla city, Turkey, 02 September 2015. At least 11 Syrian migrants died in boat sank after leaving Turkey for the Greek island of Kos. EPA/DOGAN NEWS AGENCY
Because yours is an exclusive club and they don’t know the password.
You like to say that if you were challenged at gunpoint with the question, “Do you believe in God?” you would unflinchingly answer “YES” and risk the consequence of a brutal death.
But when given the opportunity to stand for the less fortunate, the least of these, for Christ Himself, you pride yourself on loudly proclaiming, “NO!”
You will brag about standing up for Jesus by ordering a barista to write “Merry Christmas” on the outside of your $7 paper coffee cup.
But you deny Christ to His very face by refusing to see those created in His image as people worth saving.
You. Are. Wrong.
And if you won’t take my word for it, take His:
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ ” Matthew 25:41-45
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:17-19
When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod.” Matthew 2:13-14
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:15-17
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.” Hebrews 13:1-3
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:14-17
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 1 John 3:16-18
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:19-20
Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” Matthew 19:14
This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. . .if you do not obey these commands, declares the Lord, I swear by myself that this palace will become a ruin.” Jeremiah 22:3, 5
And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: ‘This is what the Lord Almighty said: Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’” Zechariah 7:8-10
American Christians, for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I beg you. Please wake up.