Navigating Through the Refugee Issue From a Biblical Perspective

February 1, 2017

By: Ronnie Floyd, Pastor
       Cross Church, Springdale, Arkansas


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.

Pray Diligently

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.

 Where Do We Go from Here?

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 Responsibility of the Church

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. 

 The Church will continue to serve in this complex situation in America. Government will navigate these enormous challenges relating to national security, immigration reform, and the global humanitarian crisis. We would all do well to remember the longstanding policy of the humanitarian community is to prioritize assistance for those who face special threats because of their religious beliefs.

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)

Seasoned and Shining: A Call to a Resilient Faith in Christ

January 31, 2017


By: Jamar Andrews, Pastor
Word Baptist Church

 

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared at Theological Matters and is used by permission.

It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone. As I reflect on last year, I am amazed at the events that took place throughout the world. While I am saddened by many of the things I have seen and heard, I am aware that the Lord is still at work. The condition of marriages, families and communities; the increasing hostility and division between people of differing ethnicities; and the continual disregard for the value of human life, born and unborn, are all things that I will remember from last year. While sad, I remain encouraged that the Lord knows, cares and expects His followers to have an impact on this world for His glory.

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus speaks of the role that His followers would play in the world. He tells the disciples and anyone else that would follow Him,

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

What does it mean for those who follow Jesus to be salt and light in a world of decay and darkness? Jesus understood that His followers would need both character to influence a world in decay and an outward witness that points to the Father. Pure lives will act to hold back corruption, while dedication to spreading the Gospel and meeting needs with love will bring the love of God to the forefront.

In light of the times in which we live, I have three thoughts that I hope will be helpful as we move through the new year and engage the decay and darkness around us:

1. The truth of any matter is a matter of truth.

It is vital that we understand the source of the decay that we see and experience daily. It comes from the fall of man, and the fall was set in motion by a lie. The account can be found in Genesis 3. It is amazing that the enemy begins his attack by calling into question the Word of God: “Indeed, has God said…?” By doing this, Satan also calls into question the character and nature of God. Once God’s Word is questioned, the next step is to reject it. As we engage the issues dealing with ethnicity, marriage and life, let us remember that the main issue is an issue of truth. We must engage with truth; a lie has speed, but the truth has endurance. Indeed, God has said that from one man came all men; that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world; that marriage is God’s idea, a holy covenant that He established; and that human life is precious.

2. The Word is not only free from error but sufficient for life.

As we engage the decay and shine in the darkness, we must rely on the Word as the source of our message and director of our lives. There is a trend to view the Bible as holy and good, but not sufficient. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” The Word is sufficient and will provide the wisdom, training and help that is needed to make an impact for the Kingdom of God. We must be committed to conforming our lives to the Word of God.

3. It is not the truth you know, but the truth you obey that makes a difference.

To be effective for the Kingdom, it is vital that hearing the Word results in godly action. James 1:22 says, “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” Whenever an area of our life is in contradiction with the Word, we must quickly conform our life to the Word. As we conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel, we reflect the light of Christ in the dark world in which we live and point others to the only source of hope for humanity. Let us exercise our faith with our feet so that the watching world can see and glorify our God.

The Lord does some of His best work in dark and dirty times, seeds grow best in fertile soil, and lights are most visible in the darkest night. Our disappointments many times will be opportunities for His divine appointments. As you move through the new year and engage tough life issues, my encouragement is that you look at and engage the issues through a biblical lens and framework.

Treasures In Heaven

January 27, 2017

By Walker Moore
Awestar Ministries

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

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