Cal Jernigan – Senior Pastor

It’s now been a week since the tragedy that occurred in Paris. As I have said before, our first and foremost response to this needs to be prayer. We need to continue to offer prayer for the families that have suffered loss, prayer for the people of Paris and all of France, and prayer for those who believe these acts of terrorism are the way to change the world.

As a result of what happened in Paris, in the last week there has been a massive outcry against welcoming refugees, especially Syrian refuges. It’s become THE topic of discussion. I’ve seen and read many opinions regarding this in the news and in social media, and I have witnessed many reactions to it all. If I summed up what I’ve experienced, I’d sum it up by simply saying there’s a great and growing majority calling for the shutting of the borders and rejecting all refugees (or certainly Syrian refugees) as just too dangerous to allow entrance into the US. I get this. I understand. There’s a part of me that wants to fully endorse this. It IS the safest thing for us to do as Americans.

But what about us who claim to be Kingdom citizens? Should this be our response? Do we reach the same conclusions as our unbelieving neighbors? Should these responses be identical?

Let me quote Jesus by way of reminder,

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” Matthew 5:43-47

This raises some significant, and difficult, questions: Is Jesus a fool? Is he naive? Is he a simpleton? Is he clueless?

These tough questions force a response.

Should there be a difference between how we respond to these threats as Americans, and how we respond to them as Kingdom minded people? Let me ask this differently, “Should being a Christ follower cause us to reach different conclusions and different responses than those who are not Christ followers?”

The goal of terrorism is simply to produce terror. Terrorists trade in fear. Fear is their greatest weapon. When we become afraid, terrorists prove their methods are truly effective. At the risk of sounding simplistic, terrorists are the bullies who have power over us simply because we allow them this power. When we let the fear they instill infect us, we become afraid and they grow in their power over us. As long as we live in fright, they have their way and they continue to intimidate.

But what do we do when we serve a God who tells us not to live in fear? A God who clearly teaches that fear is not something that should affect our behavior? Let me remind you that “Fear Not” is this most often repeated command in the Bible. Why should we not fear? Simply because God is bigger than whatever it is we would allow to frighten us. Anything that frightens you is something you’ve allowed to become bigger to you than God. Therein lies the problem.

As I’ve traveled around the world and experienced the problems facing people all over the planet, I’ve come to one simple conclusion. As soon as I share it, many of you will think it naïve and you’ll write me off as clueless. But it’s what I believe; I believe it to my core. Ready… Here it comes… Jesus is the answer. Jesus. Just Jesus. Nothing else but Jesus. The only hope of mankind living together on this planet is the “heart-change” that only Jesus can bring. That’s it. My money’s on no other solution. Not “religion”, not “politics”, not “military might”. Jesus. Just Jesus.

And this brings us to one simple reality. The only way people who don’t know Jesus will ever come to know him is to be in some sort of relationship with those who do. If Christians live in fear of Muslims and thus do everything we can to stay away from them, how will Muslims ever come to know him? If we live in isolation, how can we ever hope to have any influence? How can we ever affect Islam if we run from it in fear? If we live in fear, how can we live in faith?

While I can come up with a hundred reasons to live in fear, I can only come up with one reason to live otherwise. Jesus. Faith in Jesus. Just Jesus.

What do you think?

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