Tuesday, November 17, 2015

His Command

I’m not blogging on grief and loss today. Well, I kinda am, but not my own for now.
I’ve not turned my profile picture into the colors of the French flag, despite my heavy heart. I wondered why I didn’t feel right about it and wondered a bit if anyone thought less of me. In true me fashion, I though “eh” and kept my picture the same as it had been. Over the last week, as more and more response to the Parisian attacks have become public conversation, I stumbled on an article that, finally, articulated the angst I felt about the flag color phenomenon...
You see, how sadly shallow it feels to mourn 129 people while ignoring the fact that ISIS is responsible for the deaths of hundreds (or more, let’s be honest) of Syrians and other innocent Middle-eastern people daily. Is it okay to just sit back and ignore them? It wasn’t until the discussion of refusing safety on American soil for Syrian refugees that I felt sickly, and it dawned on me just how narrow we Americans think. We give our sympathy, and it appears our safety and support, only to those who seem like us.

Timothy Stanley, historian and columnist for Britain's Daily Telegraph, shared on CNN’s Opinion page (http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/16/opinions/stanley-caution-on-global-war/index.html) a great piece that explains why Americans (and I might specify and emphasize Christian Americans) need to tread carefully, from what you do to your profile picture, to who you support in our presidential election…

...how we respond to ISIS has consequences for interfaith relations. Some American politicians have suggested a religious test for refugees seeking access to the United States. This kind of prejudiced rhetoric adds to that false sense that this is a world war-style clash between conservative Muslims on one side and Christian democracies on the other. It is also unChristian and cruel. Moreover, while Americans might fear Islamification as an existential concept, we here in Europe have actual experience of living with Muslims -- and I can report that the living is easy.Muslims are our friends, family and co-workers. They fear and despise ISIS as much as anyone else. And those of us in the center-ground of European politics are determined not to alienate, or discriminate against, citizens who are 100% British, French or German. Of course, it is equally irritating to see politicians who seem to counsel doing nothing and Westerners lacerating themselves because they believe their countries are to blame for all the evil in the world. ISIS is evil -- real, concrete evil. It must be stopped. But we must proceed carefully, with a grand game plan and with the desire to build just and representative Arab regimes that last. The legacy of poorly chosen words or unilateral action is there for all to see.”
A lot of conservatives like to point to American history as evidence that America was a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. To a degree, I agree. I think a better way to explain it would be to say that America was founded on the ideal of freedom to live and practice Christianity. That being said, we certainly can’t be called a “Christian” nation as we practice such blatant, racist xenophobia. You (or I) can’t certainly be called a “Christian” when you (or I) practice racist xenophobia.
If we want to be viewed as Christians, we should model what Christianity is supposed to look like - we do not get to pick and choose to whom we show the love of Christ, not based on nationality, skin tone, or even faith.  “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”  James 1:27 
Some Christians supporting Donald Trump might want to read that verse again.
So when you throw yourselves behind governors and politicians claiming to “protect” you from terrorists, ask yourself who is ultimately going to protect America from ISIS’s evil perversion of Islam - some Republican tossing rhetoric around to scratch your patriotic itch, spewing sin disguised as political strategy just to give you an illusion of safety, or will it be the mighty Christ who took on the punishment for the sins of every soul - who defeated death - who tells you to love without prejudice?
My ball is in His court.

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