One of the most fundamental lessons we learn as Christians is to follow Christ’s perfect example, and in doing so, we are faced with this very pointed question at the most difficult of times. So, what would Jesus do about the refugee crisis in the Middle East?
OUR CALL IS TO BE LIKE CHRIST
In Philippians 2:1–11, the apostle Paul emphasizes the humility, and exaltation of Jesus Christ, as he describes Jesus’ supreme example of unity, humility, and selflessness. Paul’s message points to the importance of following Christ’s example, especially in the area of humility.
He calls believers, in verses 5-9, to share the same thinking as Christ’s, in the degree of humility. Jesus did not seek to be as God, on earth. Taking on the nature of a servant (in human form), He humbled Himself in obedience, and willingly died a criminal’s death for us. This was Christ’s selfless attitude, which resulted in His sanctification: God exalted Him to the highest place, and gave Him the highest name, above all names.
Paul suggests believers have the same mind, maintain the same love, and carry the same compassion, and fellowship as did Christ. In all humility, be selfless, and regard others as more important than ourselves. Jesus sacrificed Himself to serve others, when He did not have to, and His followers should live the same way.
WHAT CHRIST TAUGHT US
THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT
When asked what the greatest commandment of all was, Jesus replied: “Love.”
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:36-40).
Jesus fulfilled the law with that one word (Galatians 5:14). What a perfect example to us!
SERMON ON THE END TIMES – Matthew 23-25
WOES: It is interesting that Jesus precedes His sermon on the end times by rebuking the scribes and Pharisees, with a series of “woes,” as He calls out their crimes of hypocrisy.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.”
It is as if He were saying “WHOA, WHOA, WHOA WHOA…!”
SIGNS: When Jesus turns to His disciples to foretell the signs of His second coming, His very first warning is to “See to it that no one misleads you. (Matt 24:4)” He goes on to warn of many false teachings, in the future, that will involve the name of “Jesus,” wars, rumors of wars, countries fighting to lead each other, economic collapses, and earthquakes in various places. But in verse 8, He states that these signs are just the “beginning of birth pains;” as they would increase in frequency, and intensity; like the pains of a woman in labor, finally ending in the birth of a new world.
The Bible foretells that, during the end of the age pandemonium, an Antichrist will rise as a religious political leader, a “beast,” and will cause great destruction across the earth; particularly focusing on the destruction of Israel, killing the saints of God, and forcing everyone to worship him, as God. (Daniel 7:23-25, Rev 13:2, 4-8, Rev 19:20).
The book of Ezekiel identifies the Antichrist as “GOG,” and gives the names of the countries that will rise, in alliance with this beast. Best-selling author, Joel Richardson explains the region of this powerful rise in his book, “The Islamic Antichrist”:
Five of the eight nations mentioned by Ezekiel occupy modern Turkey, and possibly some of the southern Russian regions near the Caucasus Mountains, as well as some of the Turkic nations of Central Asia . . . The other three nations mentioned – Libya, Sudan, and Iran – together with Turkey form a perfect circle around Israel.
Luke shares how Jesus spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem in the last days:
When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:20-24)
With this kind of knowledge (and much more I have not addressed), it is comprehensible that Christians are having a difficult time accepting Islamic refugees.
This is “where the rubber meets the road.” While Christians understand the call to preach the gospel, to every corner of the earth, the reality of the level of chaos in our world has many in a surreal panic, and understandably so. The rise of ISIS has brought much bloodshed across the Middle East; Christians are being slaughtered, public be-headings sent out via social media, and the attacks on France are merely what we see from afar, but it is clear that Jihad is metastasizing in the world.
Very few are willing to travel to the Middle East in order to bring souls to Christ. According to the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism:
The Middle East is part of the 10/40 Window is a section of the world located between latitudes 10 degrees and 40 degrees north of the equator. Along with Central and Southeast Asia, it holds two-thirds of the world’s population. The window also contains the world’s most unreached people groups, and most of the world’s governments who oppose Christianity. The 10/40 Window bears the world’s greatest physical and spiritual needs.
In fact, it seems our country’s history, in general, is not so great. The following charts represent polls taken from WWII.
Photos from news.com.au
Why are Christians so afraid of outsiders changing our country, when we have the power of Christ to change them? Or do we? Jesus also warned that sinful hearts would cause the love of many to run cold, that hate, and betrayal would accompany a falling away from Christ in the latter days (vss 10, 12).
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE GREAT COM-MISSION
PARABLES were one of the methods Jesus used to explain Heaven from an earthly perspective. The parable of the faithful, and unfaithful servant emphasizes the central message in Matthew, chapter 24: to be ready for Christ’s return. In this story, verses 45, and 46 introduce Jesus as the master of the house, and his followers as the servants. The historical, and cultural context of the original audience shows how the disciples (servants) were given special responsibilities. Their greatest responsibility was the commission in Matthew 28:19: to make other disciples, and spread the gospel throughout the world. Inevitably, the same responsibilities fall on those of us who choose to serve the Lord today. Therefore, Jesus is saying whoever wants to be that faithful, and wise servant needs to listen, because this applies to you:
Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes.
The “food” in this passage represents life; without it we die. We are each given a portion, of food, here on earth, and oversight in the master’s house (the kingdom of God) that we are to fulfill. When we rule our smaller portion of life properly, and “feed” others accordingly, we will be blessed with a greater portion (eternity), and “rule,” our own “goods” in Heaven (vs 47).
But what happens if we fail to uphold our duty to God? In a sermon, Jeremy Myers, of RedeemingGod.com says “that” same servant (vs 48) can choose to be unfaithful, but in doing so they degenerate into wicked, and rebellious living, by neglecting their responsibilities in three specific ways.
1. The first mistake the evil servant makes relates to the Lord. He loses his sense of the immanent return of Jesus Christ. He believes His master is coming, but he is “delaying” His coming, and so the servant thinks he has plenty of time. However, there is a warning that if we take the mindset that Jesus’ coming is many years away, we are taking the first steps of degenerate thinking, and we fail when we lose the urgency to spread the gospel.
2. The evil servant’s second error relates to the Lord’s people, as he loses his spirit of love, and begins to beat them. How many times do we Christians metaphorically beat refugees because of fear, and self- preservation, rather than reaching out to share the gospel with them?
3. He finally errs regarding himself, when he loses his own self-control, and begins eating, and drinking in sin. Joel Richardson’s tweet on 12/6/15, points back to verse 12, and draws a clear example of this:
Wake up! The greatest danger to believers in this hour, and in the days ahead, is not getting killed. It is allowing our love to grow cold.
The penalty, of the evil servant’s choices begins with verse 50, where Jesus refers to believers who are not ready, because they have neglected to produce fruit worthy of the greater “food” the master holds (everlasting life).
As a proverbial “knife to the gut,” God will appoint the servant their portion, of life, with the hypocrites. According to the writers of GotQuestions.org, the Bible wholly condemns hypocrisy as a sin; therefore, the unfaithful disciple is placed with the sinners in this verse. The result of sin is clearly understood as the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” draw a picture of the utter fear the servant will experience; as if to be uncontrollably shaking while God is handing down judgment (vs 51).
JUDGEMENT (Parable of Sheep and Goats) – Matthew 25:31-46
Jesus completes His sermon on the end times with a parable that describes a time after Christ returns to rule the nations. He specifically focuses on works regarding our relationships with, and services to others.
All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left (vs 32-33).
The sheep represent those who cared, enough to look passed cultural and personal prejudices, to feed the hungry, and love the sinner, as well as other Christians. These believers are welcomed into heaven by Jesus. The goats represent those who would not receive the stranger, nor visit the sick and imprisoned. The goats are cast into eternal fire.
The astounding reality of this parable is that, although works alone do not save us, works go hand in hand with our saving faith, and without them our faith is dead (James 2:14-17).
GOD’S SPIRIT POURED OUT – Acts 2:16
It is imperative to remember all of God’s words regarding the last days. While the world spirals into chaos, prior to the Second Advent, the apostle Peter reiterated that the Holy spirit that fell on the day of Pentecost will continue to the end, and God will save many souls in the last days!
This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
We live in a world where right is wrong, and up is down. Today, many have marked believers as bigots, who are a threat to the mainstream society. Jesus never promised we would not suffer for His namesake (Christ-ian). In fact, the scriptures affirm that all followers of Christ will suffer, to some degree, with a possibility of death, due to their love for Christ more than this world.
Thousands of Christians, in the Middle East, have been slaughtered. According to recent estimates, the Christian population in Iraq alone has dropped to roughly 250,000—down from 1.5 million just a decade ago. It will only get worse as we near the return of Christ. But God is pouring out His spirit today, and many more souls are being saved.
Entire mosques coming to faith in Jesus in sub-Sahara Africa: March 29, 2012
Jesus did warn us to be wise, to be ready, and not to be fooled by false teachings. Respecting the contradictory teachings of Islam is not wise, but showing love to Muslims is a crucial example of Christ.
In an article by Charisma News, Daniel Howell shares Reverend Franklin Graham’s wisdom regarding the refugees:
Graham does not propose abandoning refugees but rather finding a solution that is best for them and us. One proposal is relocating refugees to safe places within the Middle East where the victimized can retain their customs and culture and we can be safe from the terrorists among them. The costs can be covered by Samaritan’s Purse and federal aid. Graham’s position is fully consistent with the Gospel.
This is a great suggestion; however, what if it is not a viable option, for some reason or another? What if it comes down to us, and our decision to allow them in or not, as a last resort for these people?
Be assured, if we do not heed the call to “Go . . . and make disciples of all the nations,” God will provide wide open doors for them to come to us. Refugee crises throughout history, and the video above are clear signs of that promise. Here is our opportunity to reach this lost portion of the world!
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” (Matt 10:6).
The following words of wisdom come from Joel Richardson’s twitter page (12/5/15):
As Muslims leave Islam in droves, if we’re not there to offer Jesus the real alternative, this will be the result:
Iraqi civil society activist: “our youth in large numbers are turning towards atheism, as a reaction to Islamist violence & failures” (Hayder al-Khoei @Hayder_alKhoei).
Fear cripples us from doing what God calls us to do. Reject the words of any politician, preacher, or news outlet who fills you with fear.
So, what would Jesus do about the refugee crisis? Many believers, who have taken up their cross to follow Christ, already know the answer. The more pointed question is… are we ready to follow His example to the end?