Various strong opinions of refugees and terrorists have been lighting up the social media circuits this season. As I scroll through my news feed, I see sympathy for those in crisis and sorrow for the plight of people fleeing the destruction of their communities. I also find the fear that allowing displaced persons to resettle in our own neighborhoods would make us vulnerable to those among them who may violently oppose our religious, political, or social ideals.
Fear. That’s a topic I’m pretty familiar with. I struggle with myriad fears. Some are probable, but many are not. I am not an expert on immigration or refugee issues. I don’t really know how likely these concerns may be. But, honestly, I’m not sure it matters.
Much as I don’t like the idea, I can’t read the Bible and believe that God calls me to feel safe because my country has a strong military presence, a powerful leader, a stable economy, or a well-defended perimeter. Instead, He asks me to trust in His strength, His leadership, His stability, His defense, and to share His love with everybody.
Don’t forget to welcome outsiders. By doing that, some people have welcomed angels without knowing it. Don’t be controlled by love for money. Be happy with what you have. God has said, “I will never leave you. I will never desert you.” So we can say boldly, “The Lord helps me. I will not be afraid. What can mere human beings do to me?” (Hebrews 13:2, 5-6, NIrV)
This passage would be much easier to deal with if it were phrased a little differently. If only the writer of Hebrews had said, “welcome friends” or “welcome people just like you” or even “welcome folks who will bring you lots of gifts and be great friends.” I could definitely get behind that last one. But that’s not what the verse says. It says to “welcome outsiders.” Other translations use the term “strangers” or “foreigners.” The meaning is pretty clear–I need to welcome people who are different from me, people who don’t run in the same circles I do, people who come from somewhere else, people who may make me feel really uncomfortable.
And the potential threat to national security that scares so many of us? Yeah, that’s in there, too. “I will not be afraid. What can mere human beings do to me?” If God is with me, what business do I have fearing anybody (Romans 8:31)?
You have called me to show Your love indiscriminately. I don’t often do that well. I wait to grant blessings on those I feel have earned them. I want to save up favor for people who will likely repay me in kind, or at least let me feel good about giving to someone who can’t give anything back. I dislike the idea that I’m supposed to show love to my enemies in the same way I do to my friends, but that is Your command (Matthew 5:43-48).
I pray for our leaders and those who influence national policies. I ask for Your wisdom as they determine how best to respond to crises around the world and within our own borders.
Please help me to have no fear of bad news, but trust in You. May I find Your Light, even in the darkest places. Let me live rightly, being gracious, showing compassion, and freely passing Your blessings to those in need (Psalm 112).