Because God allows and encourages all of us Christians to think for ourselves, rather than demanding that we all conform to some “group-think” of the leader or leaders (as happens in cults), Christians react to such events with a variety of responses. The same is true with regard to the issue of Syrian refugees in America.
Sometimes, it seems, some of those reactions may be more American than Christian. Others resist the temptation to paint all muslims or even all middle easterners with the same broad brush, to assume that they are all guilty until proven innocent. If you are in this second category, that’s good!
Jesus was familiar with foreigners who didn’t speak the local language, who kept to themselves and didn’t make friends with the locals, who inflicted violence, often on a peace-loving population, and who didn’t consider themselves accountable to anyone for the injuries and deaths they caused. These people in Jesus’ day were known as the Romans.
And what did Jesus say was the way people in tune with God should interact with these foreigners? Love them! Go out of your way to accommodate their demands. Do good to those who despitefully use you. Pray for them. Turn the other cheek when they insult you. In doing this, Jesus says, you will be like your Father in heaven, who makes His sun to shine on the just and the unjust and sends His rain on the evil and the good.
I don’t think we should abandon this part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:38-48) to a first-century-only application. It applies to the breaking news of our twenty-first century. And it is just as challenging for us as it was for those sitting on the mountain hearing the Teacher’s words for the first time.
Obeying Jesus is always risky. But it is important that we pluck up the courage to take the risk, because obeying Jesus is also always a testimony for Him to an unbelieving world. “They will know you are my disciples,” Jesus says, “by your love.” Not only our love for one another, but our love for people from a different country, with different beliefs and customs, and maybe even with a secret agenda.
Pray for courage. Pray for a wellspring of love arising from deep in your heart. The Savior will answer such prayers by His Spirit.