Yesterday was hard, Church.
I read a lot of pain and frustration and fear and anger in articles and facebook posts. As a culture, we process our emotions online now. I don't really know if this is good or bad. I've seen some really powerful moments come from people processing their grief online, and some really ugly ones.
When it happens about an issue that the Church is fractured over, it's particularly ugly.
All day I was asking the Holy Spirit, "What do we do? How do we respond? Where is the unity when some in the Church are cheering and some are weeping?"
Here are a few thoughts I've been chewing on, things that all Christians can do no matter how you feel about Syrian refugees' place in our country:
1. "Mourn with those who mourn....", Romans 12.15
Weep for the refugees, Church. Whether you believe they should come or not. Weep for the two million children who are without home, for the mothers whose arms are empty, for the fathers torn from their families. Weep for the violence that has already taken so many lives.
Grieve for those who died apart from Christ, for the lost who face the reality of death, daily. Weep for the innocent who are caught up in this ugly, festering mess.
We can and must remain tender and love these people, whether you believe they are an enemy or a victim, we are commanded to love both.
We can help provide clothing and food and shelter to the refugees without them coming to us.
This is where the rubber will hit the road Church. There are ministries providing immediate assistance in Europe. The estimated cost to cover the needs of these people is in the billions.
If we are unable to open up our homes, then let us open up our wallets.
Here is one ministry you could consider.
"Do not be anxious in anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4. 6, 7
I'm going to leave a quote from one of my favorite authors:
"Now is not the time to despair. Now is the time to ask God to strengthen our faith, to move us beyond feelings and into movement because we trust Him and fully, sincerely, confidently know that His ways are THE answer to all that ails humanity...We know it. We believe it. We know that God is big enough and good enough to save us down here in this broken place, and we are actually Plan A to deliver His hope and love."
If we believe that God is who He says He is, than prayer is not a trite option. It is a powerful option. An option that could move the heavens and earth. An option just as powerful as giving financially.
Pray, Church. Pray that ISIS will be stopped. Pray that the Church would remain unified - that we would not let the enemy wreak even MORE havoc by fracturing the Church on top of fracturing families and countries. Pray that there would be creative and wise and wealthy and supremely intelligent people that will bend all their resources to helping.
Ask the Lord to show you, as an individual, what His will would be. Don't rely on someone else's conviction to form your own. Ask the Lord to form your conviction about this situation, and what you should do about that conviction.
Pray for our government officials as they face these hard decisions. Pray that they would be led in wisdom and compassion.
4. Wrestle to Understand your Brother and Sister
I talked to a family member last night who has a different opinion about this situation than I do, and you know what? It calmed me down considerably. He challenged me with some hard questions that I could not answer. The issue became a little less black and white.
It didn't change my mind, but it did take the air out of my self-righteous indignation.
God desires unity. So strongly.
"I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me." John 17.20-21
Let us not forsake the Gospel.
I believe it is possible that Christians can be unified in the face of such a heated and emotional debate. Because my hope is in the Great Redeemer. I believe that the Lord can and will bring an end to all this mess. It is why we can stand up in a situation like this and say, "This is atrocious, but it is not the end. This is evil, but it is not the victor."
We know the end of the story, Christians, let us now act like it.
Have mercy, Lord Jesus. We need you now more than ever.