A Christian Response to Islamic Immigration?

Recently, in light of the shootings in Chattanooga by an Islamic extremist, Franklin Graham posted the following statement on his Facebook page:

“Four innocent Marines (United States Marine Corps) killed and three others wounded in ‪#‎Chattanooga yesterday including a policeman and another Marine–all by a radical Muslim whose family was allowed to immigrate to this country from Kuwait. We are under attack by Muslims at home and abroad. We should stop all immigration of Muslims to the U.S. until this threat with Islam has been settled. Every Muslim that comes into this country has the potential to be radicalized–and they do their killing to honor their religion and Muhammad. During World War 2, we didn’t allow Japanese to immigrate to America, nor did we allow Germans. Why are we allowing Muslims now? Do you agree? Let your Congressman know that we’ve got to put a stop to this and close the flood gates. Pray for the men and women who serve this nation in uniform, that God would protect them.”

This isn’t the first time something similar to this has been suggested. But is this the right response? And if not, what is? I would encourage Franklin Graham, along with you and I, to ponder whether or not as Christians this is the best course of action. Here are 5 relevant questions we need to consider:

1: Shouldn’t we, as American Christians, be thrilled that the nations are coming to our homeland?

2: Does it not seem contrary to the Great Commission for Christians to suggest prohibiting people from a certain religious group from entering the country?

3: Even if certain people groups could pose a risk to someone’s safety—did Jesus not warn his followers about the risks involved in proclaiming the gospel?

4: Did Jesus not die for us when we were far off?

5: If Christ risked everything to come to us, can we not allow risks for those who need Christ—especially if they are knocking on our front door?

The thing that worries me is that if we’re not careful, we’ll be using the similar logic that many of the New Atheists used against religion, which looks something like: every religious practitioner is a potential extremist. Is that really the right direction we, as American Christians, want to go in? Furthermore, this attitude seems to call into question the proposed nature of religious freedom in America. Is that freedom only for Christians?

Food for thought.

(Thoughts? Comments? Feel free to share in the comment section or contact me at zacklocklear@outlook.com)

The Paradox of Being Bad – Lessons with CS Lewis

Perhaps one of the most defeating tasks of the Christian life is the attempt to live up to it. One of the first exams anyone must past in order to be a Christian, is an acknowledgement that whatever the standard that I as a human being am to live up to, I’m certainly not reaching it. After a person becomes a Christian, the very process of sanctification—becoming who we ought to be, in Christ—is a constant chafing from exposure to everyday life. We find ourselves groveling back to God after each failure, wondering when we’ll ever reach invulnerability from the restless seductions of whatever sin we currently find ourselves in.

I can vouch personally: it seems to be that the harder I try, the harder I fall. Often, regardless of how much I pray for the removal of some thorn in the flesh or cup of self-inflicted sorrow that swims with my most current failures and weaknesses–the thorn and cup remain. In fact it often seems that the harder you try, the more aware of personal deficiencies you become:

“When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good: a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right.”[1]

CS Lewis provides a lot of insight into the internal paradox of sanctification. It would seem natural that the closer a person gets to God, the deeper the realization of personal depravity. If God is light[2], then our appearance out of the darkness and into that light would certainly expose the ugly bits of who we are. Therefore, the closer you draw near to God, the more you begin to understand your unworthiness. The paradox lies in that fact that this exposure is agonizing, yet comforting.

At this point, we remember the gospel. God’s love for us, and his acceptance of us in Christ, are both boundless in quantity. We cannot fake a Christian life. Many people try, and it can only lead to disaster. God calls us to draw near to him as a father, and to rest in the work of Christ even in the wake of our worst failures. We are called to live up to a standard, but that standard only begins to be actualized once the darkest corners of our heart are exposed by the light of Christ. The standard acts as a mirror: when God is close, the room is illuminated, and the reflection we see in that mirror is frightening because we begin to see the state of our condition. But the mirror does not clean us up—no standard is capable—it simply shows us who we are. It is only Christ who can clean us up.[3] He invites us to rest in him.

In the midst of your struggles and failures, rest in the work that Christ has done for you.

[1] C. S. Lewis and Kathleen Norris, Mere Christianity, Revised & Enlarged edition (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 2001), 57.

[2] John 1:5

[3] Isa. 1:18