The Church and mixed messages

(Today also happens to be the day that the US president put out a second executive order banning certain international travelers from coming into the country and halting all refugee migration into the US for 120 days. The first blog excerpt I quote was written after his first order along these same lines back in January).

In all fairness I’m not referring to the whole church when it comes to these mixed messages. That’s the difficult thing about talking about an entity like the church. Its too easy to lump everyone together and act as if everyone is equally guilty. I realize that is rarely the case but I want to share some quotes from a couple blogs I came across that made some excellent points about the hypocrisy between what the church has said in the past and what it is doing now. The writer of the first blog I came across is Abby Norman. Here are the points that particularly stood out to me (its not long and you can read the entire post at the link under this excerpt):

“Many who sent me to my knees, weeping on behalf of the 10/40 window are complicit in sending those same people to die in the very places we begged God for access to.
The muslim people that we knew only God could reach are in our airports, and the church is complicit in turning them away. You asked me to give my life. You told me it would be worth it eternally, and now you cry SAFETY FIRST to mostly women and children who are desperately looking for safety.

The same church that told me that people were dying eternally damned because no one was willing to risk their life to tell these people about Jesus, is the same church that is telling me it isn’t safe for these women and children to be in our neighborhoods. I thought following Jesus was worth the risk.

You wonder why the millenials, even those raised in your churches, are exiting your pews en masse. It isn’t because we didn’t believe what you were saying. It is because we did. We believed you. You said, go do something dangerous for God and we said YES! But when it was your turn to welcome these people you said it was too  dangerous. We still want a Jesus who is worth following no matter the cost.

The evangelical church told us that souls were on the line, that eternal life was at stake. But the evangelical church was willing to elect a president who staked his claim on banning muslims. The church voted for that. You with your big T Truth and your make Godly choices, you decided that refugee banning was worth it…

I am asking: What do you really believe? If you really believe that anyone who hasn’t accepted Jesus Christ as their savior is eternally damned, wouldn’t you demand that any muslim who wants to can come in? Wouldn’t it be worth whatever risk there may be for the chance to introduce this muslim to Jesus?  This is what you told me. I believed it. My question now is, do you?”

Evangelical Church: In the wake of banning refugees, what do you believe?

And it so happened as I made plans to post this I came across another blogger (Fred Clark over at Slacktavist) noticing the same problem Abby did. He made this point in a blog entitled “How did a ‘heart for missions’ lead to contempt?”:

“The most modest claim about the effect of prayer usually says something like prayer may not change God’s mind, but it changes us. It teaches us that praying for others is a good way to train ourselves to love those neighbors as we love ourselves.

That seems reasonable. It makes sense that years of prayer on behalf of other people would, if nothing else, form habits of concern and care on the part of those doing the praying. But here we have a powerful counter-example. The very same people who have spent years praying for those within the 10/40 window now seem to regard those people with exceptional contempt.

That suggests either that prayer doesn’t work the way we thought it did, or else that all those people have somehow been praying wrong. (Or, perhaps, both.)”

So where did things start going wrong when it came to the church, prayer and caring for those in the 10/40 window? Or maybe we only wanted God to answer in such a way that it didn’t disturb our personal comfort and delusions that we can make ourselves safe?

As someone who grew up in a Christian family, attended church all my life, attended Christian colleges for both of my degrees and who lived overseas for 4 years mainly to be on the mission field these points make me uncomfortable and I hope it has the same effect on any Christian (particularly American) reading this.

I have made choices and sought after God most of my life because I was taught and believe that Jesus is worth following anywhere and worth any “sacrifice.” So why am I witnessing so many Christians acting like following Jesus’ example is now just an optional commitment when it comes to welcoming the foreigner and loving your neighbor?

Does anyone really think others (Christians or not) aren’t noticing the hypocrisy? There is a very disturbing message being communicated here. A message that is in direct contradiction to what I learned, read and heard most of my life from the Church.(In case you haven’t heard the Church is supposed to be known for its love).

Somewhere along the way many of us got lost or don’t have a very healthy view of love. We really need to stop obsessing over ourselves and get back to caring sacrificially for others especially those not like us. (That’s kind of a key point, I was told, in calling oneself a Christian).

Is loving, giving and sharing sacrificially like Christ only for those ‘special’ Christians aka missionaries? Despite the Church often making the mistake of holding missionaries up as super Christians the answer is undeniably no. Jesus called all His people to love. Neighbors or enemies…either category doesn’t leave any space for exceptions. So I to would like to pose my own questions and ask: When did we start having a problem with God answering our prayers and when is the church going to get back to actually practicing what it preaches?

(I realize some might make the point that what Christians believe and what our governments choose to do won’t necessarily align. However as long as most Americans are going to claim they are Christian I’m going to expect them to know what’s in their Bible, what Jesus taught, and to follow Him. In my not so humble opinion this would look like not supporting policies that are clearly hurting others and which also is in violation of God’s expectations of us).

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