Pathways to Peace

Following Jesus Down The Road Less Traveled

What Would Jesus Do About the Syrian Refugee Crisis: An Evangelical Christian Response

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 5.39.53 PMJesus Message & Evangelical Faith

Coming from an Evangelical Christian background I grew up having a deep respect for the Bible. After being a follower of Jesus for almost 40 years I have come to the conclusion that we as Christians in this country either take the words of Jesus seriously or we become atheists. I cannot stomach a Christian faith that teaches me to love God, but turn my neighbor away if he or she is an atheist, Muslim, Gay or a Syrian refugee.

I want a Christianity that is real. I want a living faith I can sink my teeth into.  Many of my Evangelical brothers and sisters are putting their lives, resources, and reputations on the line as they serve the marginalized and hurting of this world. Their love knows no borders nor do they discriminate as they serve unconditionally.  There are others, however, who seem to have forgotten what Jesus said about loving our neighbor, helping the suffering and stranger among us and those desperately trying to survive on the margins of of our society and in war zones around the world. Our Lord said:

For I was hungry, and you fed me.  I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink.  I WAS A STRANGER, AND YOU INVITED ME INTO YOUR HOME.  I was naked and you gave me clothing.  I was sick, and you cared for me.  I was in prison, and you visited.

No Christian who claims to be a follower of Jesus can get around these words. They are either true or they are not. What we do with Jesus command determines whether or not we are his followers.

The Politics of Jesus

I have been studying the Bible all my life.  I have a bachelors degree in Pastoral Studies and Philosophy, a Masters of Divinity, and an earned doctorate that I completed in 2013.  I was an Evangelical minister for 18 years.  I am familiar with this wonderful book called the Bible.  As an Evangelical I was taught that the Bible was to be read through the centrality of Christ’s teaching, but as I look at the political landscape of Christians both on the Right and the Left I am convinced that if Jesus ran for public office and declared his domestic and foreign policies we would destroy him in the media as a dreamer and idealist. We would probably declare that his message is not relevant to American life today.

Jesus made it clear as to what he believed was the most important central truth of the entire Bible.  He said that we must love the Lord our God with all our being, love our neighbor as ourselves, treat other people the way we want to be treated and if we find an enemy we should try to turn him into a friend.  There is no way around this.  I believe Jesus message applies even if my neighbor is an atheist, Muslim, Gay, or a Syrian refugee who needs a home and a sanctuary.  We just cannot get around the politics of Jesus.  The Mennonites have been saying this for 500 years.

Applying Jesus Message To The Syrian Crisis

So what do with do with the 4 million Syrian refugees fleeing for their lives from ISIS, president Assad and now the Russians? My friend Lynne Hybels, a leading Evangelical humanitarian, peacemaker and human rights activist has written an outstanding article on how Christians and other concerned human beings can follow Jesus by helping our desperate brothers and sisters whose lives have been destroyed by the war in Syria.  I strongly encourage you to open your hearts and minds to what she has to say and ask God how you can follow Jesus in helping these refugees in very relevant ways.  Feeling Paralyzed by the Migrant Crisis in Europe? Here Are Some Practical Ways You Can Help. — Lynne Hybels

About Jeff

9 Replies

  1. Kent Corbin

    Hi Jeff! Thank you for your heart for the refugees. We do really need to do something. I’m doing a paper on the Syrian Refugee Crisis in class, is there anything you think I really should know about this topic? -Kent Corbin

    1. Jeff

      Hey Kent,
      Great to hear from you. One of my Syrian friends has recommend Fred Hof from the Atlantic Council. I have heard he writes really good stuff on this issue. Please send me a copy of what you write. I recommend that you focus on practical ways people can help with this crisis. Lynne’s article offers some very practical steps. Hope this helps.

  2. Sarai

    Jeff, I agree right on with your blog about how Christians should view the Syrian crisis. Here’s my question one that I wrestled with most of today: How do we support the Syrian crisis as Christians with issues such as refugees coming into our own country along with ISIS tag alongs sneaking in with them? Are we putting ourselves at risk? Will there be more violent crimes/ terrorist attacks in our own country by unknowingly bringing in ISIS fighters? If we wish that we do not receive any refugees, does that make us hypocritical and not acting as a Christian? Is it selfish to put our own safety and welfare first? Are we called to risk our lives and even die by helping the refugees?

    1. Jeff

      Hey Sarai, You are asking very thoughtful and important questions. I am going to be blogging on this issue for a while so I hope I will be able to answer some of your concerns. There are several million displaced people as a result of ISIS and our military air strikes. If they stay where they are they will die. They will be killed by ISIS or bombed by those fighting ISIS. Their sons will be forced to join ISIS and their daughters molested. These refugees are caught between the “devil and the deep blue sea” so to speak. Could some ISIS militants infiltrate their masses? Of course but I am more concerned about the home grown citizens of Europe and the U.S. who have already joined ISIS among us. It is inevitable that we are going to have future attacks and we want to do everything to prevent them. I just hope we do not give up our humanity to do so. For me that would mean that I have to stop following Christ and follow the masses into fear and scapegoating. With all the potential risks I choose the path of love. No doubt to turn the hurting masses away will play into ISIS agenda and fill their ranks with a new generation that hates us. If I have to risk I will risk loving my neighbor as my self (even if he or she is a Muslim refugee) and treat them the way I would want to be treated. I hope this is helpful.

      1. Joan

        If we are to love our neighbors as ourselves does that not mean to help the homeless and needy that already live in this country? There are many that are Americans that have nothing and live day by day and hand to mouth. Our government is bringing in refugees and giving them housing, medical, food. But we do not do this even for our own veterans. This seems quite contradictory to me.

        1. Jeff

          I understand your concern, Joan. There is room for both. We just have to figure out what we can do and work together with creative solutions.

  3. Ted Wood

    I love how you take the words of Jesus seriously. The issue of the Syrian refugees seems to me to be a real test of whether the rest of us do as well. Thank you for the best thoughts I have read on this.

    1. Jeff

      Thanks Ted! I think in every age the Church has to make decisions in times of great crisis as to whether or not we are going to follow the path of Christ in that crisis. How we respond to the refugee crisis in the Middle East will not only impact our faith and lives but will set an example for the next generation that follows us. I hope that in this hour we shine for our Master in a glorious way like our early Christian ancestors did in the first two centuries after the time of Christ.

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