My friend asked me to contribute to answering three questions:
- Are Christians equivocating and acting in hypocrisy if they pause to consider if and how Christ’s call to hospitality is to be applied on a geopolitical scale?
- Is there a distinction between individuals’ acts of hospitality and the questions a nation-state must deal with before admitting tens or hundreds of thousands of refugees?
- What are the limits to bold and risky hospitality on the household level and on the nation-state level?
As I considered my contribution, a number of doctrines swirled around in my mind, coalescing into the fuel that fires my passionate heart for the answer to these questions. It is worth pointing out that I have good friends, who are intelligent, love Jesus, some of which are leaders of men, who disagree with my passion. I often find it bewildering, but I know the truth of my experience and that is there are those who affirm the same doctrines that I affirm, in unity, and come to very different conclusions.
It seems worthwhile to mention some of these particular doctrines, for clarity in what drives my passion.
- Love – of God, Brother, Neighbor, and yes Enemy
- Hospitality – Not merely fellowship with friends, true hospitality toward the stranger/alien.
- Providence – Everything is for my good and His glory.
- Weakness – He works through the least, the unqualified, the unexpected.
- Sovereignty – He is able and has the authority to do as He will.
- Civil Government – Instituted by God and exist for a God given purpose.
- Family – As for me and mine, we will serve the Lord.
- Wisdom – It is not enough to know, one must be transformed by knowing into living.
- Fear – No point in fearing anything or anyone but God.
- Obedience – Because it is an outworking of my love.
- Law – You can’t legislate salvation.
- Suffering – In this fallen world, my love of God results in this, it is the norm.
- Joy – Despite my sorrow, there is such a treasure in my relationship with Christ.
- Sanctification – I seek to grow in my own pursuit of holiness.
- Submission – I properly submit to God appointed authority in my life.
- Mission – I make disciples through teaching (by word and deed).
I could continue, but I believe I make my point here, that the breadth of doctrines involved in answering these questions are both profound and complex. Whole books have been written on these individual doctrines. How much more could be written on the interactions and interplay between these doctrines?
Are Christians equivocating and acting in hypocrisy if they pause to consider if and how Christ’s call to hospitality is to be applied on a geopolitical scale?
It has always seemed wise to me to pause (as context allows) to consider the cost, to contemplate the path, to gather the counsel of others, and to pray. This is neither hypocrisy nor equivocation, it is wisdom. It becomes foolishness, in my humble opinion, when there is no reasonable end to the pause. When one spends so much time evaluating, seeking counsel, and otherwise staying busy as to prevent making decisions and moving forward, this is sin. I believe it is true across the board, regardless of the topic. We should always pursue wisdom, but wisdom ought to result in application of knowledge, not merely the creation of additional theory.
Is there a distinction between individuals’ acts of hospitality and the questions a nation-state must deal with before admitting tens or hundreds of thousands of refugees?
Absolutely there is a distinction. There is yet no Christian Theocracy, tho I patiently pray for Christ’s return and the final instantiation of such a civil government. Between now and then, if one were to rise up, I’d get as far away from that as I possibly could. You simply can’t legislate salvation. To that end, there are some civil governments that will more closely align with Scriptural morals and ethics, while others will be further away.
However, until His return, I live in a broken world that involves broken civil governments, and I don’t expect that government to pursue sanctification the way I pursue it with my family. While at the same time I pray for the salvation of those who fill the various roles in government. I also do all I reasonably can to encourage my government to mirror scriptural morals and ethics in implementing policy.
But it would seem very naive of me to believe that there is no distinction. I mean, I live in a country that murders its own children and celebrates homosexuality. These are things we abhor in my home, my family, my clan. The distinctions are real.
If this wasn’t real enough, the scale is a real distinction. Heck, Moses attempted to run a nation like he would his home and his father-in-law had to point out to him that scale requires distinctive differences. Yes, absolutely, there is a distinction … there are in fact, a multitude of distinctions.
What are the limits to bold and risky hospitality on the household level and on the nation-state level?
This is only limited by the faith of the household or the faith of the nation-state, which is further limited by the object of that faith. My nation puts its faith in its might, it is duly limited in what it may risk. Let me articulate that a different way. My nation doesn’t believe it can do what it doesn’t believe it is capable of doing. I, however, believe Christ in me can do what I am incapable of doing.
My household and I, we put our faith in the God of the doctrines I listed above, we have yet to explore to the limits of acceptable risk. This, then, is the passion that is fired in my heart by the doctrines that have renewed my mind and transformed me. We intend to be so bold in our extension of risky hospitality that the nations will give glory to God because of our faith.
What do you do with those answers?
I mostly get on with living my life. That involves praying for my civil leaders, particularly praying for their salvation. It involves me being involved in my government’s politics (city, county, state, and national) where I’m granted a voice (voting, debating, encouraging). I looks like me loving my community and being willing to answer difficult questions about why I live the life I live the way I live it.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time and effort couch quarterbacking a government that I believe is pursuing the murder of it’s own children, that continues to propagate racism, that steals from it’s own people to line it’s own pockets, that can’t manage to properly steward the resources it has, and that is in no way visible to me pursuing wisdom. Rather, I’m going to pray for the souls of those who make up that government, and pray that I would love them well.
I’m going to pray for the hungry, homeless, beaten, and destitute around the globe. I’m going to spend time meditating on how I might best impact the world in pursuit of loving them well.
I’m going to continue to open my home to strangers. I’m going to continue feeding the hungry. I’m going to continue preaching the gospel. I’m going to take every opportunity I have to glorify God. I’m going to pursue my joy, and pray that it is a blessing to those around me. I will pursue being a man who loves his wife well, raises his children in the fear of the Lord, is a blessing to those around him, and who is ultimately known as a man who loves Jesus.
The government will do what it believes it can do, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
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