Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at ronniefloyd.com and is used by permission.
Passion is high in America on issues relating to refugees. The pundits, politicians, and even preachers are weighing in. How do we find our way through these complex issues?
As followers of Jesus Christ, what is the balanced, biblical perspective? If we do not look at it biblically, we enter into dialogue without authority and clarity.
Three Practical Realities
There are three practical realities that are inescapable. It is imperative we understand these or we will get lost in the complexity of the issues. Consider these three realities:
Love the Refugee
The Gospel of Jesus Christ moves me to call on all of us to demonstrate compassionate action toward the refugee. We need to honor and respect them individually for their God-given dignity. However, their long-term future in our nation is a political issue, not a spiritual one.
Fix the Immigration System
In prior writings about these issues, I have mentioned that negligent leadership and political polarization has now resulted in this American crisis. Our immigration system is not working. Otherwise, we would not be where we are today.
Immigration is a political issue and it needs to be addressed by our nation seriously and immediately. Therefore, this is not in the hands of the Church, but in the hands of our elected leadership. Justice and fairness in relationship to the law must be considered along with compassion and mercy toward all persons.
We must pray for our nation and for our leaders to come together and resolve this issue, both short-term and long-term. The lives of people are at stake. The security of our nation is at stake.
When we address this sensitive and challenging subject, our goal should be to see the issues through biblical lenses from God’s perspective. Articles and talk show hosts may be helpful at times, but what God says is more important than what anyone else says about it.
The Responsibility of Government
Romans 13:4, “For government is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason. For government is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.”
Our government’s first responsibility is to protect the American people. Each President in our nation takes the following oath of office: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
Therefore, the President and the government in our nation must work together to protect the citizens of the United States. This means they must come together and resolve many issues regarding the security of our nation, including refugee, immigration, and border issues.
President Donald Trump was clear in his campaign and to this very day about his strategy relating to the security of our nation. Whether it is President Trump, a past president, or a future president, each has the responsibility to secure our nation. Due to the changing state of our world, this can look different from administration to administration.
During my 2016 term as President of the Southern Baptist Convention, a compassionate resolution was adopted entitled, “On Refugee Ministry,” and I believe it would be worth reading. Please notice one line in this resolution that realized the biblical responsibility of government: “RESOLVED, That we call on the governing authorities to implement the strictest security measures possible in the refugee screening and selection process, guarding against anyone intent on doing harm;”
This line was included in the resolution because as followers of Christ, we must understand the tension that occurs because our government has a responsibility it is mandated to fulfill.
The Church in America must pray for our president and all those in leadership in our nation. We, the Church, are not responsible for policy, but for people.
The Church is here to serve people. The Bible is very clear about how we must love the refugee and serve them compassionately.
Deuteronomy 10:18-19, “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing. You also must love the foreigner.…” Foreigners and refugees are made in the image of God, should be loved, receive compassion and justice, and never be abused. Being pro-life means we care about everyone from the womb to the tomb, no matter their nationality, race, or religion. (Genesis 1:26-28; Exodus 22:21-22, 23:9; Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Leviticus 19:34, Micah 6:8; Zechariah 7:8-10, Matthew 25:35-40; and Romans 13:1)
While the Church prays for our president and political leaders to resolve these complex issues, our church and many others will continue our extensive efforts to serve the vulnerable here and abroad whatever the policy of the government. We do not advise the government regarding issues of national security and they do not advise us on who and how we serve.
In my humble opinion, there should be no religious test except as it relates to those who face persecution because of their religious beliefs.
An Appeal to America
We are living in a dangerous world, and no one can deny the fact that terrorists—especially in Europe – have attempted to use our compassion against us.
Therefore, President Trump, his Cabinet, and the members of both houses of Congress must navigate together toward a resolution that protects our nation as well as operates with generosity and compassion. The Church should be careful with our words and judgments, giving them time to work through these long-existing, complex issues.
Furthermore, the Church should always stand ready nationally and globally to love all refugees, meeting their needs, the greatest of which is ultimately the same as ours: A personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Believing and operating with biblical balance, we know the Church must realize biblically that the government’s duty is to protect its citizens. Simultaneously, we must affirm the responsibility of the Church to minister to refugees who are brought inside the borders of America.
As Jesus said, “I assure you: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Editor’s Note: The photo at the top of this article was taken from the Hannibal Courier Post.
Last month, my wife and I celebrated our 42nd anniversary. We got up that morning, looked at each other, said, “Happy Anniversary!” and went about our day’s work. I met my wife, Cathy, in Hannibal, Missouri, where I was attending school at Hannibal LaGrange College. New to the area, new to the ministry and very wet behind the ears, I was thrilled when a small country church, Antioch Baptist, offered me a job as their youth pastor. I had no clue what I was doing, but the church was patient, kind, loving and tolerant of my mistakes. Continue reading
Jeremiah 33:3a reads, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Dr. Joseph Parker (1830-1902) writes, “What is this calling unto God? Is it a verbal exercise? Is it a mere act of exclamation! Nothing can be further from the meaning. It is a call that issues from the heart; it is the call of need, it is the cry of pain, it is the agony of desire, it is enclosure with God in profound and loving communion. If we have received no answers, it is because we have offered no prayers. ‘Ye have not because ye ask not or because ye ask amiss,’ you have been praying obliquely instead of directly; you have been vexing yourselves with circumlocution when your words ought to have been direct appeals, sharp, short, urgent appeals to Heaven: to such appeals God sends down richness of dew, wealth of blessing, morning brighter than noonday. God will shew His people ‘great and mighty things.’ There is nothing little. The bird in the heavens upon its trembling wing is only little to us, it is not little to God. He counts the drops of dew, He puts our tears into His bottle, He numbers our sighs, and as for our groans, He distinguishes one from the other; these are not little things to Him, they are only little to our ignorance, and folly, and superficiality. God looks at souls, faces, lives, destinies, and the least child in the world He rocks to sleep and wakes in the morning, as if He had nought else to do; it is the stoop of Fatherhood, it is the mystery of the Cross. As to these continual revelations, they ought to be possible. God is infinite and eternal, man is infinite and transient in all his earthly relationships; it would be strange if God had told man everything He has to tell him, it would be the miracle of miracles that God had exhausted Himself in one effort, it would be incredible that the eternal God had crushed into the moment which we call time every thought that makes Him God.” Jeremiah 29:10-14 reads, “For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.”
Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) explains, “Some people think God does not like to be troubled with our constant coming and asking. The way to trouble God is not to come at all.”
Jesus said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)
1 John 5:14-15 reads, “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”
Psalm 116:1-2 reads, “I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.”
2. What are you expecting from God?
Jeremiah 33:3b reads, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Dr. Joseph Parker explains, “From a great God we ask great things, through a great sacrifice.” Dr. William Carey (1761-1834), missionary statesman, said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” Andrew Murray (1828-1917) said, “Faith expects from God what is beyond all expectation.” Dr. Adrian Rogers said, “Pray, believe, and you’ll receive; pray in doubt, you’ll do without.” Jesus said, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22).
In Mark 11:24 Jesus said, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Andrew Murray explains, “That is, the gift which we first hold in faith, as bestowed upon us in heaven, will also become ours in experience.” Andrew Murray also explains, “Between the ‘have received’ in heaven, and the ‘shall have’ of earth, ‘believe.’ Believing praise and prayer are the link.”
Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:12-14). Later, Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7).
James 1:5-8 reads, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” Rev. Ron Dunn (1936-2001), author of Don’t Just Stand There, Pray Something: The Incredible Power of Intercessory Prayer, Don’t Just Sit There, Have Faith, and Standing in the Gap: Praying Effectively for Others, shares the following note from a little girl: “Dear Rev. Smith: We are praying for you. We are not expecting an answer. Without realizing it that little girl summed up the prayer life of many Christians: we are praying; we are not expecting an answer. The truth is, most of us aren’t surprised when our prayers aren’t answered – and we’re often amazed when they are. But the opposite ought to be true. God intended that our prayers be answered.”
III. What are you experiencing of God?
Jeremiah 33:3c reads, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” God can show us things that are unimaginable, unfathomable, and unknowable. He is able! Remember Jeremiah said to God, “You are great in counsel and mighty in work, for Your eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, to give everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings” (Jeremiah 32:19). (Emphasis mine) Dr. Keith Leroy Brooks (1888-1954) writes, “The more literally rendering of the word ‘mighty’ is ‘fenced in things,’ the things that are humanly impossible to reach. Those who expect to receive such blessings must continue instant in prayer; for promises are given, not to supercede prayer, but to encourage prayer. Those who pray and take His promises for their pillow find that their Father above will do for them things which humanly they could not understand or give credit to. . . But He can not bestow His choicest gifts upon hasty comers and goers.”
Jesus said, “Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). Dawson Earle Trotman (1906-1956), founder of The Navigators, described his successor, Dr. Lorne Charles Sanny (1920-2005), as “an ordinary fellow with an extraordinary God.” May it be said of us, “They are ordinary people, with an extraordinary God.”
When you need direction, the Lord says, “Call to Me.” Remember He is “great in counsel.” Romans 11:33-34 reads, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?’” 2 Chronicles 1:7-12 reads, “On that night God appeared to Solomon, and said to him, ‘Ask! What shall I give you?’ And Solomon said to God: ‘You have shown great mercy to David my father, and have made me king in his place. Now, O Lord God, let Your promise to David my father be established, for You have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Now give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can judge this great people of Yours?’ Then God said to Solomon: ‘Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches or wealth or honor or the life of your enemies, nor have you asked long life—but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge My people over whom I have made you king— wisdom and knowledge are granted to you; and I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like.’” Remember James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Dr. William Carey explains, “Prayer – secret, fervent, believing prayer – lies at the root of all personal godliness.”
When you need deliverance, the Lord says, “Call to Me.” Remember He is “mighty in work.” Asaph records God’s invitation in Psalm 50:15, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” Rev. Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) shares the following: “Thomas Brooks [1608-1680], alluding to the old classical myth of Daedalus, who, being imprisoned in the island of Crete, made wings for himself, by which he escaped to Italy, says, ‘Christians must do as Daedalus, who, when he could not escape by a way upon earth, went by a way of heaven.’ Holy prayers are the wings of the soul’s deliverance.”
Ephesians 3:20-21 reads, “‘Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.’ Amen.”
Dr. Henry G. Bosch (1914-1995) the founder of Our Daily Bread, shares, “A woman recounts, ‘Thirty years ago my brother built a small fire on the side of our strawstack near the barn. My sister, sensing that this would lead to serious trouble, ran and told my mother. She in turn summoned my father, who was working in the field. By the time he arrived the flames were already out of control. We all carried pail after pail of water from the tank, hoping that somehow God would stop the fire. Suddenly a strong wind came up, blowing sparks from the strawstack to a nearly stand of wheat and corn. Soon the flames covered a large area. Realizing that no earthly help was available, we cried to the Lord for help as we poured what little water we had left for the blaze. We knew that only a miracle could save the farm now. Finally in desperation we sank to our knees, and prayed as we had never prayed before, ‘O God, please stop the fire!’ Then a remarkable thing happened. A large cloud came over, and all at once it began to pour. In a short time everything was drenched. Then just as suddenly, the cloudburst was over. In surveying the situation we found that the shower was confined EXCLUSIVELY TO OUR PROPERTY, and it lasted just long enough to quench the devastating flames. Once again we knelt and thanked the Lord for His special providential help.”
Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) writes, “The tragedy of today is that the situation is desperate but the saints are not.” Don’t resist the urge to pray in urgent times.