What about Syria and the refugees? What about the gospel? A little over ten days ago, the topic of the Syrian refugee crisis came to the forefront as the events of Paris unfolded. Back in September, President Obama was talking of raising the amount of Syrian refugees that America would take in from 10 thousand to 25 thousand. Needless to say, whenever the President of the United States of America talks of making a change, the other side is going to raise all sorts of issues. Plus, now, with the horrific tragedy which occurred in Paris, people on both sides have raised serious questions regarding whether this would be advisable or not, given the current conditions of the world and those who would seek to harm the USA. Many have raised valid points for and against which I believe we should weigh carefully. It is always easier being an arm chair quarterback. Let us pray for President Obama, the leaders, and the decisions they have to make. The focus of this article is not to address the political aspects of this situation, but rather from the vantage point of being a follower of JESUS CHRIST, how should we look at and view this. What should be the condition of our hearts as we face the prospects of thousands of people coming into the country we live? The question I ask to you the reader, if you are a follower of JESUS CHRIST the LORD is this: Considering Syria, are we faithful now?
I hear, and my body trembles;
my lips quiver at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones;
my legs tremble beneath me.
Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble
to come upon people who invade us.
(Habakkuk 3:16 ESV)
Sometimes the best thing you can do, once something tragic has occurred, is to just wait and hear what others say as you ponder in your heart what the Word of GOD says. I admit, once I started hearing all the different views of this crisis and whether we should let more refuges in, I was eager to hear what other pastors and saints would be saying. Something had come to my mind as views and opinions were offered up. My Pastor, Steve Bice, of Sovereign Grace Church Bellbrook sent out a link to an article from Desiring God on this very topic (Here is the article). In it, the view expressed the optimistic view, (which I do believe we should embrace with extreme caution and repentance), that we had an opportunity to be salt and light to a people GOD was actually bringing to us. Instead of training up a few people for years to go and reach people of a foreign land, we now had opportunity to do it right where we are. But there was something which was missing, something I was not hearing from any of those who propose this view – as a people of GOD, as a whole, are we being faithful right now to share the gospel with those whom the LORD has put around us? It is one thing to take this view, if we, as Christians in this nation, are actively producing the fruit of the Kingdom and it is another if we are not. I purposefully held back from writing on this to wait and see what would happen over the next week or two. Would there be an increase in the people of GOD sharing and proclaiming the glorious gospel of the LORD JESUS or would there be the same attitude as there was before the crisis?
“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.
(Luke 16:10 ESV)
…Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
(Luke 12:48 ESV)
how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? …
(Hebrews 2:3 ESV)
The application I wish to take from the above Scriptures is when GOD has blessed and entrusted a people with the gospel and its fruit, they have a responsibility to care for, insure it is cultivated, and proclaimed/taught in the land and among the people. Neglecting this great treasure ultimately results in it being taken away and entrusted to another. Look at the nation of Israel. Israel, in the Old testament, was called to be a nation of priests of GOD to the world. They had been entrusted with the law and above that, the very presence of GOD! But repeatedly, they allowed the surrounding nations to come in and pollute the land and people. This betrayal and obstinance toward GOD resulted in the the kingdom splitting, the northern kingdom destroyed, and the southern in captivity before being allowed to return. However they still did not remain faithful and had not learned the lesson GOD was teaching them. The final straw was when GOD sent forth HIS SON, the people rejected JESUS and embraced the world. This led to the kingdom being taken away from the nation of Israel. GOD’S people were always to be faithful, especially in the land HE had given them. They were to be holy people in a holy land and they were told they were to go out to the rest of the world. Even the Apostles were told they were to go into all the world and preach CHRIST JESUS. However, even they did not do this until the persecution of the church began.
Now let us look at the United States of America and the followers of CHRIST that have been placed in that country. I am not referencing the false cults of Roman Catholicism, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, the Black Hebrew Israelites, or the many or false Christian cults. I am speaking specifically of those who have been redeemed by the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, by the shed blood of JESUS, from the hand of the adversary. I am speaking of those who have been saved by grace, through faith alone, in CHRIST alone, through the cross alone…through GOD alone. GOD had prospered this country and entrusted the gospel of the LORD JESUS to it. For a long time, we cherished it and unwaveringly taught and shared it. But then something changed – we began to be more like the world and less like the priests of GOD. We became tolerant of sin and even tried to water down the gospel to attract others instead of relying on GOD. Today in this country and around the world, the vast majority sees Christianity through the Word of Faith movement along with groups like Bethel Church in Redding, CA. They don’t see the gospel being boldly proclaimed in the midst of persecution; they (the world/America) see health, wealth, prosperity, and all sorts of doctrines, not from the Word of GOD, but of men, for the approval of men. O, what shame we must feel for allowing the name and character of GOD to be misrepresented! O, what shame we should feel for not insuring the name of JESUS and HIS gospel are ringing out on every street in every town and state throughout this country. In so many ways I see this, if it occurs, as a judgement against this country and specifically the people of GOD in this country. If we have been faithless already with the gospel here in America, what makes us think we would do any less if 25 thousand more people from another land, religion and culture was to arrive? Why would we expect GOD to bless us if we are not walking in a manner worthy of HIS calling and gospel now? If we are afraid to proclaim CHRIST everywhere here in a land of freedom, why would it change when those who come from a different religion go to those of like minded communities and make them stronger? No, my friends, I do not see this as a blessing, but as a chastisement. It is so easy to shout and make declarations when a crisis arises, but what is the mentality and energy after the dust settles? If we, as Christians, are not acting faithfully now, so that regardless of who the LORD brings along our path they may see and hear of the LORD and the salvation that is in HIM alone; then I am afraid those who come will not hear it at all…it will be a whisper seldom heard and not clearly when it is.
Let me sum this up and bring it to a close. The question is not whether we should love or care for or minister to any people the LORD allows to enter into the United States. The question is not whether we should be for or against. The question is are we in sackcloth and ashes repenting for our waywardness, lack of love, and disbelief of GOD’S Word? Are we a people mourning over our sin and seeking GOD to move on account of HIS great name, washing us clean, and filling us with HIS SPIRIT, to begin NOW proclaiming repentance for forgiveness of sins in JESUS name. The question should be, are the pastors not only preaching the gospel in the church, but on the streets? Are the Under-Shepherds doing the work of an evangelist and teaching those entrusted to him to do the same? Are those who are in authority in the church setting the example in denouncing false doctrine and ensuring the mindset of the Bereans is instilled in each person? Are we seeing the mission field as the very ground we are on at any given moment? This is the great challenge – to be busy doing business with what GOD has already entrusted to us, that we may be found faithful. It should not matter whether a person is a refugee or a natural born citizen, the conversations should still be ongoing and the gospel going forth from every redeemed sinner from the hand of the adversary. If we are not sharing this great love, are we then saying to them, not with words, but with our apathy, that we hate them? If you are willing to be silent now, convinced that GOD is true, heaven and hell are real, and there is a day of judgement fast approaching – what would it mean for us to be silent now? I think Charles Spurgeon said it best:
“Someone asked, Will the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved? It is more a question with me, whether we — who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not — can be saved.”
Saints, let us not be found waiting, but going forth charging the battlefield of earth that those who have been given to the LORD JESUS from every nation, race, tongue, and tribe may hear the good news, repent, and be saved. Now is the acceptable time! Let us love GOD and our neighbor! Let us go out of the city to HIM bearing HIS reproach carrying HIS banner, asking to speak boldly HIS gospel while the LORD extends HIS hand to heal. Let us not wait for a perceived crisis, because the true crisis is already ongoing…a war against sin and lost souls going to hell. This is a war, a crisis, an emergency that demands immediate and continual attention – for the consequences are grave! Come now, soldiers of the MOST HIGH and wage war against the enemy, not in your strength, but in and by the power of GOD’S HOLY SPIRIT who dwells in you! Make war with the testimony of CHRIST and the Word of GOD! Then let GOD do only what GOD can do…save a sinner from HIS wrath and their sin.
Grace and peace saints.
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Shane Sands is the founder and president of United in Christ Jesus. In addition to local and statewide outreaches, he has organized and participated in numerous evangelism trips around the world and helped to establish a Reformed home church in Norway. Shane is a devoted husband to his wife, Holly and together they desire to follow the Lord’s leading to be based in Northern Ireland.