Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Biblical Response - Pray - Show Mercy - Be a Good Neighbor

The events in Paris this past Friday have certainly captured the attention of all of us. Our hearts and prayers go out to the people who had someone they love taken from them in this act of hate and evil. We wonder if it might happen here.

Yesterday I wrote about our, "response" to Paris. I said; "The truth is, there is evil in this world. When it shows up in such a violent way and brings such grief to so many, it is frightening. But, thankfully, we do not have to be afraid. God is our God and we can trust Him. He is the One who we can run to for safety. We can call out to Him and know He will answer because He loves us.

This does not mean we will never experience grief, but when we do, we do not have to do so alone. God is with us. He will not leave us and this gives us security and peace and is the message for our grandchildren/children and our response to Paris." and I shared a prayer from Psalm 91 for ourselves and for the children we love.

I've noticed on Facebook an increase in the posts and photos which call for us to refuse help to those who are fleeing the Middle Eastern countries. Let me say, I understand the idea if we want to keep what happened in Paris from happening here, we need to keep hate-filled, evil people out of our country. I think it would be irresponsible to just, "fling open the 'doors' and let anyone 'waltz' into our country", but I do also think it is a response of fear and yes, even evil and hate, to close our hearts to those people in need of our help. Biblically, they are our neighbors. There is no "godly" response which allows us to turn our backs on our neighbors who are in such great need.

We have an opportunity to put into practice what we teach . . . the message of the Good Samaritan. Remember, Jesus had been teaching when a young man who was like many of us - so sure he knew all the answers and was, "right", asked Jesus what he had to do to receive eternal life (pretty sure he was already doing everything he needed to do). Jesus asked him want the Law said and the young man answered; "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" Jesus told the young man he was correct and to do as he just said. (You'll find the complete event in Luke 10.) 

Voyage to a Second Life
This young man wanted to, "justify himself" and asked Jesus who his neighbor was. I think this is the question - and the answer - which we forget. Far too often we think our neighbors are only those people in our actual neighborhood or city or state or country. But Jesus has a bigger view of who our neighbors are. He told the parable of the Good Samaritan - a man was traveling when attacked by robbers who took all he had and left him for dead on the side of the road. As the man was on the ground, he heard someone headed his way. It was a priest - basically, his pastor!!! Surely he would help, but he did not. He kept going. The man continued to lay there on the ground when he heard more footsteps - another man headed his way! This time it was a Levite - basically, his Sunday school teacher! He was going to help the man for sure . . . but he did not. The man at this point, was sure he was going to die, but then he heard more footsteps. This time it was a Samaritan . . . a man from another country; someone he didn't even like. Surely he would not help him, but he did. The Samaritan gave his time, his efforts and his money to help the man.

Jesus asked the young man which of these three people - the priest, the Levite or the Samaritan - acted like a neighbor, and the young man said,  “'The one who had mercy on him.' Jesus told him, 'Go and do likewise.'”

This message is for us, too. We need to remember . . . especially in light of what happened in Paris, our neighbors are those in need. And, if we are going to be the neighbors Jesus calls us to be, we need to show mercy to those in need.

How do we do this? Well, first of all we pray. We pray for those people who are fleeing the terror in their homelands. We pray for our leaders - pray they will make wise, merciful decisions. We pray for those who screen refugees - the process sounds pretty solid, but not infallible. We need to pray. 

We also need to give to those who are actually on the ground providing aid - I recommend WorldHelp and Samaritan's Purse. Then, when refugees arrive in our communities, we need to show them the love of God. Invite them to our churches, help our children make friends with the children at school, get to know the parents, share Jesus with them - you might even invite them to your home for dinner. Some of them - many of them are Christians; our brothers and sisters. Others do not yet know Jesus and perhaps this will be the way they come to know Him.

And for our grandchildren/children; we need to teach them to pray for those who are fleeing terror in their homelands. To pray for our leaders. To pray for those who come to our communities, so they will come to know Jesus. We need to involve them in projects to help those in need and talk with them about befriending their new neighbors and sharing Jesus with them. I don't want my grandsons to respond to events like this - and sadly, there will be more - with fear, or with a lack of mercy. I want them to show mercy and be, "good neighbors". I want them to trust Jesus and follow His example and teachings.

Yes, our country needs to screen refugees, and we need to be praying for them as they do, but remember. Jesus told us to, "Go and do likewise." He wants us to show mercy and love our neighbors. How can we do anything else? 

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