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Isis, Syrian Refugees, & The Paris Attacks

(photo: Angelos Tzortzinis/Getty)

For nearly a year we have watched the horrific persecution of Christians by the Muslim terrorist organization known as Isis.  The Christians of Syria and Iraq have been burned alive, shot in the streets, and beheaded simply because they refuse to convert to Islam.  Now the barbarism has forced millions of refugees from Syria to flee into the neighboring countries of Turkey, Lebanon, & Jordan.  Yet these countries seem unable or unwilling to provide refuge for all 12 million refugees.[1]

This has led to a mass migration from the Middle East to western nations.  Countries like Spain, Portugal, England, and France have seen over 700,000 people enter their borders.  Many of these refugees find themselves in a “Christian” country for the first time in their lives.

The American Christian is torn between two conflicting ideas.  First, we are told to care for the hurting[2] and believe that the power of the gospel can change lives.[3]  Second, we are told to walk in wisdom[4] and think shrewdly in a dangerous world.[5]

After Paris was attacked by Isis the American people are wondering if accepting refugees is really a wise idea.  Many others are moved with compassion on these multitudes and believe it to be Christ-like to welcome them into our boarders.

So, what should we do?

  1. The Job of the Church

Luke 19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.

Christians must do what Jesus would do, live as Jesus would live, and act as Jesus would act.  Granted, we who call ourselves Christians are not very good at living up to this standard.  Therefore, Jesus has left us two things that help us on our journey – The Scriptures and The Spirit.  A thorough study of the Bible and a close walk with the Holy Spirit will show the Christian what is right and what is wrong.  According to the Scripture we are to seek out those who don’t know of the love and grace of Jesus and offer salvation to the lost.  This is called evangelism.

  • Go There & Evangelize

Select Christians will be compelled to go to these Muslim nations for the sole purpose of bringing the love of Jesus to a deceived and dangerous people.  What will compel these heroes of the faith we call missionaries?  It will be the love of Christ.[6]

  • Reach those who come here

Christopher met me after church a few months ago.  He explained that he had just arrived from Lebanon 2 weeks earlier and was looking for a church in which he could worship Jesus and fellowship with other believers.  He was from a small Christian village in southern Lebanon that was typically left alone by the reigning Hezbollah.  But when Christopher left his village and entered University his problems really began.  He chose not to hide his Christian faith and even spoke publically about the love of Jesus, the dangers of Islam, and the right of Israel to exist.  One evening on the street outside of the University, he was approached by a Hezbollah and beat to a bloody pulp.  They nearly killed him.  Perhaps they thought they had.  I asked him naively if he went to the police.  This young man in his early twenties smiled at me and said, “they too are Hezbollah.”  Christopher had to flee!  He sought for political asylum in several European countries but denied at every turn.  Then he sought for political asylum in the United States.  They granted him access based on his story, background, and faith.  Since coming to our church Christopher’s faith has been deepened and has been baptized.  Last Sunday night after a missionary presentation Christopher approached me about God working in his heart “to become more for Jesus and be a missionary.” 

The greatest way to change the world is by giving the gospel to every human on the planet. The Middle East would be transformed entirely if they were to understand the love of God, the gift of Jesus, and the power of forgiveness.  Just ask terrorist formerly known as Saul:

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.

 The Solution is Evangelism!

 So, is the Christian answer to throw open the boarders and arbitrarily welcome any refugee from the Middle East? 

  1. The Job of the State

Romans 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Western Christians have a very difficult time distinguishing between church and state.  This is likely due to our states being led by professing Christians for so many years.  However, the church is NOT the state and the state is NOT the church.  They are both to have distinct roles in society.

The church should feed the poor.  The state should focus on other matters.  The church should open our homes and show hospitality.  The state should protect the homeland from potentially dangerous invaders.  The church should seek and save the lost.  The state should seek and destroy the enemy.

This may seem contradictory to someone unassociated with Christian Scriptures.  But the Biblical Christian ought see no internal conflict here at all.

In Romans 13, the Apostle Paul clearly outlines the role of the government as Christians ought see it.  They are the servants of God.  They are to bring fear into the hearts of those who would do evil.  They carry weapons for a reason.  That reason is to protect the innocent and execute judgment.

ISIS ought wake up every morning in a cold sweat having dreamt of American forces knocking on their front door.  A terrorist who attempts to infiltrate our boarder ought tremble in fear as our boarder agents interrogate him about his intentions, his gods, his loyalties, and his religion.  Our government ought adopt Israel’s anti-terror strategies.[7]

Look, it is the job of the state to protect its people!  The president, the senate, the congress, our Governors, and our mayors have a responsibility to protect YOUR people.  The problem is they have been asking the wrong questions.  Stop asking, how you will be perceived by the voters!  Stop asking, what is the politically correct thing to do!  Stop asking, what would Jesus do!  You aren’t Jesus.  You aren’t supposed to be Jesus.  You are supposed to be the state and you have been given a sword by God for a reason.  Use it!

To the State:

Temporarily close our boarders to Muslim immigrants.  Interview the refugees individually to see if they are willing to denounce the prophet Muhammad and renounce Isis, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations.  If our very capable boarder agents feel they are being less than truthful, deny them access.  Remember, your number one responsibility is to protect the homeland.  If you are a Christian who is working for the state, honor God by doing your job!

To the Church:

Permanently open your hearts to the hurting.  Pray for your Christian brethren who are under persecution and are attempting to flee.  Send missionaries who are willing to go to these needy foreign fields.  Reach out to your Muslim neighbors and show them the love of Jesus.  Give them access to your home, your life, and your heart.  Remember, your number one responsibility is to represent Jesus by loving the lost.

If you agree with this post – please share it with your friends. 

Are my words contradictory?  Do I have it right?  Where did I go wrong?  Let me know by leaving a comment below:

[1] http://www.worldvision.org/news-stories-videos/syria-war-refugee-crisis

[2] Matthew 9:36-27

[3] Romans 1:16

[4] Ephesians 5:15

[5] Matthew 10:16

[6] 2 Corinthians 5:14

[7] http://www.timesofisrael.com/will-the-west-now-adopt-israels-anti-terror-strategies/

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28 Comments

  • Reply
    Faith Gels
    November 17, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    Thank you for writing/posting this. I especially appreciate how you define the difference between the individual Christian’s responsibility and the responsibility of the government. So good. So much truth and wisdom in what you stated.

    • Reply
      Josh Teis
      November 18, 2015 at 3:09 am

      Thanks Faith for the comment

  • Reply
    Dustin Pence
    November 17, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Well said Bro Teis. I appreciate the time spent on this article and agree with you entirely! While I hope the borders are not opened to the refugees, my job will be to evangelize those who do make the journey, and to equip others to go to their homeland.

    • Reply
      Josh Teis
      November 18, 2015 at 3:08 am

      Thanks Dustin! Our 1st responsibility is to represent Christ and to share His good news

  • Reply
    Matt Davis
    November 17, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Josh,

    Really appreciate what you wrote. Too often Christians jump on the rabble rouser bandwagon without thinking biblical implications through!

    I did have one question posed in an iron on iron context. Should renouncing Muhammad be a qualification? Is the government then becoming an arm of the church by requiring this? I agree on renouncing terrorism, ISIS, etc.

    If we have the chance to evangelize here of and when they come in, can we expect them to convert at the border with an INS agent?

    Would love to hear your take.

    • Reply
      Josh Teis
      November 17, 2015 at 11:19 pm

      Great question. I believe that anyone who is muslim in the united states should have the freedom to worship whoever they’d like to worship in anyway they desire to worship. However, here I am speaking of the immigration process. I believe that for this brief time in history we should be limiting new immigrants who claim the muslim faith. Why? Because of the obvious connection between Fundamentalist Islam and the Middle East. We do NOT want these people infiltrating our boarders. One way of assuring our safety is to open the boarder to Christians, Jews, and other faiths but not to those of the Muslim faith. This is a sad necessity brought on by those Muslims who insist on pursuing Jihad. Where will those Muslims go? Why doesn’t the United Arab Emeritus or Saudi Arabia take them in? We have to protect our boarders. It’s not a matter of converting them. It’s a matter of where they are better suited to go. A Muslim country seems more appropriate.

  • Reply
    Trent Cornwell
    November 17, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Thank you for the post. Issues like these really help us think through how our beliefs should effect our behavior. It is not a simple issue and I appreciate you not presenting it as if it was. It really helps to see where the tension is between thinking as a believer and as a citizen of America.

    The only area that I might think might should be thought through more thoroughly would be your recommendation to the State. You said ” Interview the refugees individually to see if they are willing to denounce the prophet Muhammad and renounce Isis, Hezbollah, and other terrorist organizations.” I do not know if I would be be comfortable with the government making a decision on a persons religion. I am not a muslim, as you know. I just think denying someone a right to migrate here based on their religion will lead to an even more difficult existence for us Christians in the days to come.

    • Reply
      Josh Teis
      November 17, 2015 at 11:22 pm

      I believe that there is a core, fundamental problem with the Islamic faith. It’s called Jihad. It is an active call upon adherents to convert or kill. Therefore, as terrible as it may sound, we must limit the refugees to those who are not muslim. Simply because there is no way to know if they have been radicalized or not.

    • Reply
      Josh Teis
      November 17, 2015 at 11:23 pm

      Further thoughts from above:

      I believe that anyone who is muslim in the united states should have the freedom to worship whoever they’d like to worship in anyway they desire to worship. However, here I am speaking of the immigration process. I believe that for this brief time in history we should be limiting new immigrants who claim the muslim faith. Why? Because of the obvious connection between Fundamentalist Islam and the Middle East. We do NOT want these people infiltrating our boarders. One way of assuring our safety is to open the boarder to Christians, Jews, and other faiths but not to those of the Muslim faith. This is a sad necessity brought on by those Muslims who insist on pursuing Jihad. Where will those Muslims go? Why doesn’t the United Arab Emeritus or Saudi Arabia take them in? We have to protect our boarders. It’s not a matter of converting them. It’s a matter of where they are better suited to go. A Muslim country seems more appropriate.

  • Reply
    Gary
    November 17, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Great poat Pastor. Good to affirm the difference between the two roles. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Sarah Woolf
    November 17, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    Thanks for this beautifully written insight, Josh! I’ve been bombarded with Christian “opinions” telling me what to believe and do. This is the first I’ve read with sound Biblical backing and frankly, common sense! The church and state differentials is so key, but is ignored so often! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Bob Cherry
    November 17, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    Insightful and great 360 degree perspective. Many think I am callous when it comes to our borders. I think you laid out the government responsibility perfectly. I think about it also if I was to start up a new business or church what measures would I take to protect it? We wouldn’t allow someone with no skin in the game and destroy it. Yet, a whole segment of our nation is willing to allow it to happen to our country. Why? If the Bible teaches that I am an infedel for not taking my family why wouldn’t that extend to protecting our nation. We have allowed a minority to weaken our nation, our schools, and the family.

    • Reply
      Bob Cherry
      November 17, 2015 at 11:30 pm

      And, I should know better than trying to type that all on my phone. Sorry for the cut off sentences. Couldn’t figure out how to delete it and try again. Regardless, should of read, “for not taking care of my family…”, and “We wouldn’t allow someone with no skin in the game to come in and destroy it.”

  • Reply
    Judith P
    November 18, 2015 at 1:57 am

    Thanks for clarifying you opinion on what immigration should do. I myself, felt uncomfortable reading it for fear that some people will think of the requirement to have them denounce Muhammad or else get rejected as doing the “same” thing they’re doing to Christians or others that don’t want to convert to Islam (of course without killing them.) But I understand that it would be one step closer to trusting in their true intent for wanting to migrate into our country. Thanks for your insight.

    • Reply
      Josh Teis
      November 18, 2015 at 3:06 am

      Thank you Judith for your comment. Yes. I went back and read what I had originally written and it did need clarification. As I have mentioned above –

      I believe that anyone who is muslim in the united states should have the freedom to worship whoever they’d like to worship in anyway they desire to worship. However, here I am speaking of the immigration process. I believe that for this brief time in history we should be limiting new immigrants who claim the muslim faith. Why? Because of the obvious connection between Fundamentalist Islam and the Middle East. We do NOT want these people infiltrating our boarders. One way of assuring our safety is to open the boarder to Christians, Jews, and other faiths but not to those of the Muslim faith. This is a sad necessity brought on by those Muslims who insist on pursuing Jihad. Where will those Muslims go? Why doesn’t the United Arab Emeritus or Saudi Arabia take them in? We have to protect our boarders. It’s not a matter of converting them. It’s a matter of where they are better suited to go. A Muslim country seems more appropriate.

  • Reply
    Caleb McCollum
    November 18, 2015 at 2:43 am

    We are moving to Germany in February to an area that has just received 3,000 refugees. Another larger camp is about an hour north in Weisbaden. For me, it’s an open door for the Gospel to reach these people. I am in contact with an Arabic-speaking Christian in Weisbaden now who is putting together a plan and a list of needs. We hope to be able to see some converted by the power of the Gospel to the truth. A part of the 10/40 window is coming to us! Exciting days ahead!

    • Reply
      Josh Teis
      November 18, 2015 at 3:02 am

      Caleb! I love what you are saying! God bless you on your mission.

      I spoke of that very concept this past sunday in our church. You can watch it here:

      https://vimeo.com/145957486

  • Reply
    Nicolas Broward
    November 18, 2015 at 4:53 am

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been very frustrated lately with fellow Christians who’ve gotten on board with the non Christians and feel it’s their duty to shame their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ for their view on the dangers of taking in large numbers Syrian refugees from a country overrun with terrorists right now. I keep my posts informative, emotion and name-calling free, and fact check my sources, but yet I am still one of the wicked, unloving, Christians who have no room in my heart or home for these suffering masses.. I posted a link on how to contact your senators and congressmen, with a list of the 180 cities and catholic charities that will be processing these refugees and that sent people into a rampage. You would have thought I was feeding the refugees to the Sharks myself.
    I know the separation between church and state, but I guess what I’m wondering is is it a bad thing to even get involved in the information side of things at all? I feel that as a Christian and an American citizen that we should very much care what happens in the world around us and should be able to earn people of the dangers and risks, just like anything else that might pose a threat, but I can’t help but feel like so many think that Christians should just “stay quiet and pray, so as not to cause a ruckus”. I’m all for being wise with your words and for not offending, but where do we draw the line between godliness and complacency? Can you shed some light on this?
    Thank you in advance!

    • Reply
      Josh Teis
      November 18, 2015 at 5:01 am

      We have a responsibility to speak up! I think that you are correct. One of the greatest examples of a Christian doing this is Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He is a hero to men like me.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietrich_Bonhoeffer

  • Reply
    Joshua Byrd
    November 18, 2015 at 5:10 am

    Great article Josh. I would express my initial pause with your statement about renouncing Mohamad. I do see your point and it does make since, but that blanket statement can be a slippery slope. I live in a community of Muslim immagrents that are not jihadist, but are just looking for a better life in America. As a whole very well said. See you Thursday in CT

  • Reply
    Daniel Hester
    November 18, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Josh, the article is very thorough and clear. I think this is an issue that many Christians are working through and struggling with the proper way to articulate the balance between Christ’s love for the lost and our responsibility to protect our families and loved ones. It is certainly an issue that good Christians disagree on – especially in our Twitter/Facebook headline culture! Thanks!

    • Reply
      Dollie
      March 11, 2017 at 2:00 pm

      Oh goodness! That is JUST awful! I hope your legs heal quickly and that it holds off on snowing for another month or so… I mean really, what happened to faaHl!l?ve a good Friday! xoxo

    • Reply
      insure new car
      May 17, 2017 at 2:52 pm

      I think you should ask her to lunch for nothing more than to have a companion to help with the missing roadmap of this greif , a person to share the turns and bumps with and maybe laugh a little along the way .

  • Reply
    Brian Wood
    November 18, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    I was with you about 100% right up to the “close our borders to Muslim immigrants.” and “Interview the refugees individually to see if they are willing to denounce the prophet Muhammad and renounce …” On this I disagree. Let the churches welcome them! What an example of Christ’s love if those fleeing wars between Muslims are welcomed by loving Christians here in the US. What an opportunity for evangelism and compassion.

    On the second point, asking renunciation of their religion: No, no, no, no. Why should they, would they, or could they? Why should we ask them to? How can we expect that to be truthful when they have little experience of Christ? But let them come as Muslims. Let them see how we love. Let them experience for themselves the difference between a religion of mercy and compassion and one of hate and intolerance and violence. A conversion then will be real and heartfelt, and there will be rejoicing in Heaven.

    • Reply
      Josh Teis
      November 18, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      Great point. I agree with your heart and understand where you are coming from for you are thinking and feeling like a Christian. As a Christian you ought want to help anyone in need! However, we believe in the separation of church and state. The State is its own institution and runs by different rules than does the church. The state does not have a responsibility to care for the refugee who may be a potential threat. The state has one responsibility – protect the homeland! the state must protect its people above all else. I believe in the freedom of religion and anyone in the united states ought be able to worship whatever they’d like in any way they’d like.
      I believe that anyone who is muslim in the united states should have the freedom to worship whoever they’d like to worship in anyway they desire to worship. Yet, here I am speaking of the immigration process. I believe that for this brief time in history we should be limiting new immigrants who claim the muslim faith. Why? Because of the obvious connection between Fundamentalist Islam and the Middle East. We do NOT want these people infiltrating our boarders. (This may sound politically incorrect) One way of assuring our safety is to open the boarder to Christians, Jews, and other faiths but not to those of the Muslim faith. This is a sad necessity brought on by those Muslims who insist on pursuing Jihad. Where will those Muslims go? Why doesn’t the United Arab Emeritus or Saudi Arabia take them in? We have to protect our boarders. It’s not a matter of converting them. It’s a matter of where they are better suited to go. A Muslim country seems more appropriate.

  • Reply
    Pastor Marc Knoedler
    November 18, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Thanks for addressing this from a Bible perspective, Pastor Teis!
    The government was ordained by God to protect the people and punish the evildoer. When they try to do things that are outside their Biblical job description, trouble ensues. It seems that lately the federal government’s tendency is to focus on items outside their responsibility, and sadly to actually neglect the things they are ordained to do, such as protect the people.

    Side note: if you can edit your post, do you want to change “boarder” to “border”?
    The immigrants themselves could be boarders if we charge them room and board! 😉

  • Reply
    Linda Brookins
    November 19, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    Perhaps the refugees should be asked about renouncing Sharia Law and their willingness to live according the the United States Constitution.

  • Reply
    Brian Kruchkow
    December 4, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Mr. Teis,

    Your bifurcation of the church and the state is an interesting argument, but it is not consistent. That argument assumes that the church does not seek to influence the state through the election of godly politicians who will follow God’s word in their decisions. This of course is not true as churches try to elect God fearing men, and consistently pray over the decisions that are made in Washington. In this regard, the church hopes that the state will always do what is right according to the Bible, so in the case of the Syrian refugees the church must also hope that the state does what is right. The state has no right under a Biblical model of governance to do what is immoral, so in this case they are not mandated to protect its citizens at the expense of refugees. Rather, if the state were wholly filled with Godly men, then they would be expected to make a decision most like Christ, and according to your post that would be “Permanently open your hearts to the hurting” and to “represent Jesus by loving the lost.” If you do not accept the above premises then you cannot say that we are, or were ever a “Christian” nation, as that would imply that we had men who followed God’s will in both their personal life and their decisions as a part of the government.

    Also, this bifurcation is a dangerous strategy because it will logically deny Christians access to the state when there is a conflict of Christian virtue and the states mandated goal of security. An example would be when a military member who is a Christian is told to kill another person on behalf of the United States. In that case the service member must both reconcile the right of the state to take someones life, and the service member’s participation in that act while being a Christian. The service member must then decide that a Christian can take someones life, because he is ultimately the one that will pull the trigger. Simply, a Christian must be able to simultaneously be a part of the state and a Christian or else he will not be able to be a part of the state as being a Christian will take precedence.

    Thank you for your time. Please let me know if you have questions or if something is unclear.

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