Well, it happened. President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring Muslims in war-torn countries from entering the United States. Specifically, Muslim access will be restricted from certain countries and a religious test will be required, giving preference to Christians.
So, sounds like a good deal for us Christians, right? Christians have been persecuted, too, and we’re God’s people, so we should get special treatment, right?
Let me ask you this: did Jesus get special treatment? No, he got the exact opposite.
I don’t know how all this will go down, whether Congress will step in or if something will change, but I do know this: Christians should not be pleased with the Muslim Ban. On the contrary, we should be grieved.
National Extremism is No Christian Virtue
We say “God Bless America,” and I pray that he does. But national extremism says that people exist for the state, not the state existing for people. It says we must defend our country at all cost. It groups humans into “good” and “bad” based not on character, but on geography.
Where is Christ in this? When did Jesus stand up for Israel’s safety? When did he tell the disciples, “Keep foreigners out because they are a danger to you”? He didn’t. He did the opposite. Jesus saw Israel under Roman oppression, but he did nothing. He knew worse things would come to Israel, but he did nothing.
Why? Because Jesus wasn’t concerned with a political state. He was concerned about people. The exact opposite of national extremism.
Christians don’t strive to keep people out based on national security. Remember that line Jesus said about “carry your cross” in Luke 9:23? The funny thing about crucifixion is that it nails your arms wide open.
Fear is No Christian Virtue
Some might say it’s not America’s responsibility to be a foster home for the world. Others might say we don’t have the capacity or resources. The executive order, however, is not about logic. It’s about fear. The rhetoric surrounding the Muslim Ban has been to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists.”
Note all three of those words: Radical–an extremist. Islamic–a Muslim. Terrorist–a person using fear to hurt and rule. A wide ban says, “If you’re from one of these countries, we’re assuming you’re all three.”
Fear reacts to possibility, not probability or even reality. It says, “This could happen” and takes any and all precautions to prevent it, regardless of wisdom. Like a woman who locks her child inside forever because he could get sick if he goes out. I’m no fool. Disaster could certainly happen and has already happened. But fear doesn’t account for individuals past or present. It just says, “My safety is more important than you, whoever you are.”
On the other hand, the Bible says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) Christians who are ruled by fear are not ruled by God.
Religious Vetting is No Christian Virtue
Remember the Good Samaritan story in Luke 10:25-37? Like “Jew” at the time, “Samaritan” was both a national and religious distinction. Samaritan faith was a bastardization of Judaism, picking pieces from the Law and making their own quasi-Jewish faith.
And yet Jesus said this man, this Samaritan, showed godliness by loving the man who was beaten and robbed. More than the Jews who ignored him.
There is only One True God and only One Way to him: Jesus Christ. But remember these words of Jesus and know that even religious labels don’t guarantee holiness.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” –Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)
The Muslim Ban is No Christian Action
The executive order just doesn’t line up with the teachings and person of Christ. Never did he say, “Guard your life above all else.” Never did he say, “Go preach the Gospel, but only if it’s safe.” Jesus sent his disciples “as lambs among wolves,” even when he was alive (Matthew 10:16). True, he called for cunning and caution, but he still put them in danger for the sake of the Gospel.
Psalm 23 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” not “As I bypass the valley of the shadow of death.” Jesus said in countless scriptures that the Christian life is not a safe and comfortable one. Our Savior himself surrendered his body for the glory of God.
I don’t expect godliness from a nation or a president or a political policy. But I do expect godliness from Christians–Christ-followers. We Christians should not be overly concerned with our safety, our country, or religious war, but should be willing to suffer and put everything we know and love at risk for Christ’s glory.
And what is Christ’s glory? Reaching the non-Christians. Ministering to the outcast and downtrodden. Proclaiming his name across every nation, every race, every culture. It’s bringing Christ into every facet of reality.
This only happens with open borders, open arms, and open hearts.
A Final Warning
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus gave the parable of the sheep and goats. Jesus divides the “sheep” from the “goats,” then commends the sheep for ministering to the hungry, thirsty, friendless, sick, naked, and imprisoned. He says that in doing so, they unwittingly ministered to Jesus himself. Jesus then condemns the goats for ignoring those same needy people, saying that by doing so, they also ignored Jesus. The sheep inherited the kingdom of God. The goats were sent into “the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (v. 41)
Hell isn’t a place for Muslims and terrorists. It’s for goats.