Last Sunday I was guest preaching in a little suburb near us, one that has gotten a lot of international press as it was the focal point of some right-wing protests against the influx of refugees this past summer. I shared from Titus how believers are to be zealous for good works, and how we are to make the grace of God known in our world. I didn’t tie it directly into the refugee situation too much—you don’t have to these days.
Afterwards a little old lady felt the need to explain to me why she was against all the refugees coming to her town, and why she was boycotting the city-wide prayer vigils being held to address the situation.
She sees the whole situation as a huge danger for Christians in Germany. There is a good chance the influx is not truly refugees, but an invasion. If they are refugees, why not flee to a country where they already have the same religion?
This is fairly typical of the conversations I have had or heard across Germany, and even what one sees in opinion pieces back in the States. But, there are several problems with this surrender to fear that is happening, beyond the fact that it shows an implicit lack of trust in a sovereign God.
1. Christians have given up their personal responsibilities in the Kingdom of God in favor of overvaluing their role in the “culture wars.” We are tasked with sharing our story with those around us. Instead we shirk that fairly simple task because we are more preoccupied with governing people’s behavior and having a say in what the government does regarding religion and ethics. Those other activities are not bad necessarily, but to think we can effect true cultural change without doing the basic task of sharing and living the Gospel on a personal level is foolish.
2. Christians have ceased to see the Gospel as being a message for everyone, and think it is just a private message for those already in “Christian” cultures. If we are too scared to share with people who don’t believe anything, or perhaps have a similar world view to ours, how do we respond to people who have a different faith from ours? The answer is we tell ourselves it is impossible to change their beliefs, so why even try.
3. Christians are too fearful and preoccupied with their own interests to see the world through God’s eyes and exhibit His love and empathy for others. It may not be shocking at all to realize we do not share our story, when our trust in the Gospel is so small that we feel a need to take care of our daily needs and safety on our own. If God is not big enough to protect His people in the face of perceived persecution, how could He save anyone?
4. If the Church abandons her missional role in the world—preferring volunteer tourism over calling and supporting “sent out ones”—God may just have to bring the nations to the church, into their neighborhoods. The Gospel will spread to all nations, even if we refuse to go.