We can’t let in 10,000 refugees because ten might be terrorists. Have you seen this M&M themed meme on social media? I think it’s misguided, and here’s why. First, the petty but obvious. People are not M&Ms. People are the objects of God’s love and thus they must be the objects of our love also. All love requires risk.
I’m all for vetting. I’m all for being cautious where possible terrorism is concerned. But I often get the impression that those who favor a temporary ban prefer, rather, a permanent ban on all Muslims entering the US for any reason. How can we justify this as Christians? The heart of God is for us to embrace others regardless of danger.
Now, to make this clear, I’m not concerned about the politics of accepting Syrian refugees. I don’t care if other Muslim nations are rejecting them, for whatever reason. I am not concerned about policy and legality. I’m concerned about how we, who call ourselves conservative Christians, approach this tragedy. I’ve been a conservative since I came to Christ in 1983. But on this issue I think we, conservative Christians, have it all wrong. We judge it by politics and policy, by law and caution. But we haven’t first taken it to the scripture to apply God’s heart to the situation.
After Jesus and two angels visited with Abraham a year before Isaac’s birth (Genesis 18), the two angels went on to Sodom to see if its wickedness was as bad as was heard. Jesus hung back for a while with Abraham, who was concerned about God judging the city because he knew that his nephew Lot was there.
In a wonderful and creative plea to Jesus, Abraham argued, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” (Genesis 18:25). Abraham began by asking, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?” God’s answer to Abraham was that he would spare the guilty because of the 50 righteous that might be there. Abraham then continued to plea with the numbers getting smaller and smaller until he asked, “‘Suppose ten are found there?’ He answered, ‘For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.'” Satisfied with God’s judgment and mercy Abraham stopped at ten.
What did Abraham do? He argued for the sparing of thousands of guilty for the sake of just a few righteous. What is amazing is that Jesus was willing to spare the thousands who were guilty for the sake of so few.
What kind of place was Sodom? We now know from archeological discovery that it was a culture that apprenticed 12-year old boys in sodomy and rape. It was a city of perverted rapists and murderers, and these things were encouraged in the culture. Yet, Jesus was willing to spare thousands of murderous rapists for the sake of ten righteous souls. It’s just too bad there were not ten righteous there.
Consider, the overwhelming majority of Muslims seeking entry to America harbor no ill will against us. They are not murderers or rapists. They want refuge and the blessings of America, not its destruction. There is nothing wrong with this. They seek escape and a new life. There is nothing wrong with this. Yet, we are wiling to do the opposite of Abraham. There is something wrong with this. In the above meme we want to turn away 10,000 innocents and leave them to a life of misery, rape, and murder over the possibility of 10 bad guys getting across our borders. If we share the faith of Abraham, then can’t we see that this is the very reverse of Abraham’s heart, of God’s heart? Can’t we see that this is morally wrong?
By rejecting thousands of people for entry we are consigning them to live lives of terror, victims to religiously facilitated poverty, potential rape and murder, and for what? So that we might feel safe?
Do you claim to love the refugee or Muslim, but want to bar their entry? “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (I John 4:20). “If one of you says, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” (James 2:16). “[To the] one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). “[God] shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien” (Deuteronomy 10:18).
God views the Muslim with the same love and mercy as he views us. He has no greater or lesser love for them than he has for you and I. If we call ourselves Christian and want to be the image of God on earth, then we must have the same heart for the Muslim refugee that God has. Otherwise, we deceive ourselves. “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself” (Leviticus 19:33-34).
But what about protecting our way of life? What about preserving America’s Christian heritage? It is more important—from God’s perspective—to show mercy and love to the victim and the guilty than it is to protect a culture. If God’s mercy and love are not at the center of our culture, then our culture is not worth saving.
Abraham asked Jesus, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?” If you and I are the image of Jesus on earth then that question applies equally to us. Shall not God’s people on earth do what is right?