Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Terrorist In My Home

What are you willing to do for Jesus? That’s a question that I’ve heard many preachers ask during the last forty years. Of course, growing up in a preacher’s home, I quickly learned that the only correct answer is whatever he asks me to do. We agree that when Jesus said, “Take up your cross, daily, and follow me,” he was speaking of dying for him, or at least being willing to die for him. We agree that it is within his right to ask us to move to a foreign land, or take a job that doesn’t pay as well as we would like. He might call us to “labor unrewarded” as the song “So Send I You” suggests. But there in the back of our mind is that thought that we really hope he doesn’t. In time, when we haven’t heard his call to the foreign mission field or to pastor a church, we tell ourselves that he must have called us to something normal. Perhaps to give money to support others. “Whew! I was worried he was going to ask me to do something hard.”

But in recent days, I’ve been reminded of that call, “Take up your cross.” There is a fear that if we allow refugees into the US that we will allow terrorists in as well. That does seem to be a possibility and because of that, many have taken an us versus them mentality. “So,” they say, “if you’re in favor of bringing in the refugees, you’re willing to invite these people into your home.” The desire is to point out that since we aren’t willing to take the personal risk for ourselves and our family, then we shouldn’t be willing to let these people in. It has certainly given me much to think about.

As I consider this situation, what I am beginning to realize is that if I’m truly willing to do “whatever” for Jesus, then yes, the risk is worth it. I’m no more seeking a shortened life than anyone else and neither would I wish harm on my family and friends, but I have nothing to lose. What is the worst that could happen? They could kill me? They could torture me? I look at the way Stephen died, and imagine the pain of the stones striking him. Having been hit by a few small stones, it is a terrible way to die, but look what came of it. A radical Jewish terrorist named Saul heard him report that he saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God. That same Saul eventually accepted the gospel, became known as Paul, and wrote much of the New Testament.

Given a choice, it is difficult for me to decide whether I would rather die at an old age in my sleep, or to die like Stephen died. Of course, that isn’t likely to happen. If a terrorist were to get in, what is more likely is that they would strike a soft target. But even there, I can see how the Lord might use that. Imagine there is a Muslim family staying with a Christian family. They watch as the Christians pray and listen as they read their Bibles. They hear the gospel, but it has no meaning. Then the attack comes. A man claiming to be a refugee detonates a bomb, killing several Americans. The Muslim family expects the Christians to be angry with them, since that is the attitude that is on the news, but the Christians treat them with the same respect as they did before. It is at that point where the Muslim family sees the gospel in action. To take in a stranger in need is one thing, but to love your enemies is quite another.

We need only to look at the book of Job to see that the life of the righteous is in the hands of the Lord. Nothing can harm us without the Lord’s permission. But if that is what the Lord calls me to, I’m ready. Kill me and I will go to see my Lord. Let me live and I will tell you of Jesus, who died for your sins and mine. My death may encourage a sinner to accept Christ. The very worst that a terrorist can do to me is to give me the thing that I desire the most.