I need to ask this question.
Which most appeals to you in this day and age:
A) The safety and well-being of your life and that of your family
B) The safety, security and blessings offered to you and your family in Jesus Christ
How we answer this question will affect every decision we make today and in the future.
For if we are bound and determined to protect the interests and well-being of our family, we will make the construction of our walls of defense and isolation our central purpose. Our time, our money, our skills, and our resources will be self-centered and self-motivated.
However, if we center our sights upon Jesus Christ and trust in Him as our Shepherd, we will seek out ways to invite others into His fold to receive His love, care, guidance and blessing. Our time, our money, our skills, and our resources will be made available for Kingdom purposes and for the good of others. Our sights will not set inward, but outward.
For me, my choice is Letter B.
I base my decision upon the example of Jesus Christ and the attention and care He gave so sacrificially to those living in the society of His time who were judged as unacceptable, unsafe, and unpardonable. Jesus chose to be with outsiders. He purposely strolled outside the city gates and its walls to minister, to encourage, and to share the good news of the Kingdom that is to come! He walked, talked, and lived a life of gracious invitation to those that suffered in life as society’s outcasts.
And then He went one significant step further:
So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore, let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:12-16 New International Version
Jesus Christ chose to suffer and offer up his life on this earth for those in this world who lived on the outside for any number of reasons.
And there are many of us.
We Outsiders, include
The poor and destitute
The gay and lesbian
The different races – too many to list
The different beliefs and religions across the world
The excessively thin
The ugly and disfigured
The disheartened and hopeless
Truly, is there any one of us who has not been on the outside at one time or another in our lifetimes? Don’t we all need some one to greet us outside the gate of our present reality and offer us an invitation inside where we may be loved, nurtured, and encouraged to live and grow?
As I type, the internet is ablaze with opinions of how to respond to the Syrian Refugee Crisis. This outsider group is excluded and denied entrance to many gates at the moment. The internet responses and opinions are especially volatile due to the fact that a terrorist impersonated himself as a refugee and then caused significant mortal harm. States and countries contend that the safety and well-being of their people warrant keeping the refugees outside their gates and borders indefinitely. The threat is too great to allow even one undocumented person inside who could potentially cause great suffering and harm.
For me, I can not help but believe that if Jesus Christ was here, He would be a first responder in this crisis. And the first step I believe He would take is to get to know who these refugees are and determine what they need most. As I view the photographs and read the stories, I see a very vulnerable and very heart-sore group of people. They need to be invited in and offered a place of refuge, don’t they?
Are there risks?
Of course there are.
Could it all blow up in our faces?
Of course it could.
Yet, there is no greater good and no greater opportunity in this life than to offer some one the hope and love found in Jesus Christ. To be met and greeted while on the outside, to be known and offered love and security on the inside – who wouldn’t be captivated by such generous and lavish acceptance and grace?
Isn’t this why Jesus Christ came into the world in the first place?
“…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” New International Version, Matthew 20:28
“…for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” New International Version, Luke 19:10
That is how I want to live – regardless of the risk and the sacrifice.
I was on the outside once.
I want to invite others in – just as my Savior did for me.
My safety and security are found in Christ – not in the man-made, insecure walls I see others choosing to build that offer solace to no one.
Will you join me?
Photo retrieved from Life Line In Syria