He gave me a stick to bite. Then raised the cleaver over his head. And just like that my childbearing years are over. OK, the vasectomy was nothing like this; instead, we chatted the whole time while he worked. Which is a little strange but a nice distraction. We discussed his church and mission trips to Mexico. Unlike a general practitioner, he struggles to find trips as a urologist. When he goes, the facilities are rarely equipped. What would be laparoscopic in the states, became major kidney surgery in Mexico. These makeshift operations were painful, but he marveled over the Mexican’s tough strength. They would refuse pain meds, completely opposite from an American’s reactions to minor procedures.
Recovering on the couch, I can only assume I have a typical American reaction. I am happy to have pain pills. And not happy at all for the disruption in my life. I am used to being comfortable.
As a nation, we are affluent. And we are generous. A ridiculous ice bucket challenge raised a couple hundred million. Yet, we are also comfortable. We don’t want that disrupted. Maybe for a week, as we travel to the third world. But not forever.
And this is the collision as we ponder Muslim refugees. I believe as a nation we want to help. But we are afraid. Worried not just that our comfort will be disrupted, but our safety, even our lives. People are playing to these fears, fanning them into flames. And the fanning grows more radical day by day.
But I have been proud of the church. Even strongly conservative Christian leaders have pushed back.1 As God’s people we are not bound by the fear of this society. Instead we are bound by the love of Christ. Love that pushes out fears. Love that allows us to trust.
It does not call us to trust in others. Instead, love allows us to trust in God. To believe He is with us. To believe in His promises. To believe in His commands – so that we follow them, rather than our own fears.
By His command, we will act as Jesus. To say, we will open our doors. Our hearts. Of course we still need to be careful, we won’t be fool hardy. We should run background checks. But, our default setting can not be build walls. Instead we must seek those that are lost and may be saved. We are the church. Children of God, the One who loved us first. So we also love first and seek those we can help.
In this season of Christmas, Christ’s arrival in Bethlehem is nearly upon us. Please remember, our savior was like a refugee. Driven by a powerful dictator, Mary and Joseph were a family running from their home. But when they arrived no one had room.
Jesus has told us us to cut off the hand, gouge out the eye, causing us to stumble (Mark 9:42-50). This is such an absurd command taken literally, but I do not think He was speaking to physical hands and eyes. Instead cut off the visions that lead us away from Christ. Chop back the actions that defeat his purposes.
As the church it is time for us to raise the cleaver to the worldview that has caused us to miss God’s plan. We must take the blade to everything that defeats the loving reach of the Great Commission. We must cut, so that we make room for Jesus and the world He loves.