I’ve often marveled that Jesus chose his betrayer, Judas Iscariot, to be one of his disciples. Jesus, the omniscient Son of God, knew from the beginning what type of man Judas was and what his wicked heart would eventually lead him to do. Yet he allowed him to become a part of his inner circle of followers. As one of the twelve, Judas was in a favored position. He got to observe the true and living God up close and personal. He got to eat with him. Sleep with him. Be front row and center to hear him teach. He got to speak with him personally. Judas got to witness Jesus’ miracles and share in his sorrows. He even got to preach in his name and cast out demons with Jesus’ power. Out of all the thousands of Jews, Jesus chose Judas. A thief. A liar. A backstabbing betrayer. Jesus’ decision to allow his enemy to get close to him flies in the face of all that is sensible and logical. I mean who does that? Why would someone knowingly allow a person intent on harming them to get close to them?
In 2007, three Christian employees of a Turkish Bible publishing house were brutally attacked, tortured, and murdered by five Muslim men. One of the three victims, Necati Aydin had been discipling some of his murderers for three months prior to his death. Necati confessed to his wife weeks before he died that he knew the hearts of the men were like Judas, but that he didn’t want to run from them because Jesus didn’t run from his Judas.
After the attack, the wife of the second victim Tilmann Geske, publicly forgave her husband’s murderers. In her televised statement, she publicly forgave her husband’s murderers. She quoted Jesus, asking God to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing. A Muslim journalist who witnessed her response wrote that “this woman had done more in sentence than 1,000 missionaries could do in 1,000 years.”
It is completely logical why we want to bar Muslim refugees from certain countries—especially those who may be terrorists hiding under the guise of a refugee. We are well within our rights to want to keep the atrocities that are occurring against Christians around the globe from happening on American soil. Comfort and security says to do what is logical, but I’m afraid that Jesus and the Gospel compels us to defy logic. Peace and safety says to protect ourselves. Jesus says to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow him. National interests says that the preservation of our way of life is to be maintained at all cost. Kingdom of God interests says sharing the Gospel with those who need to hear it is to be accomplished at any cost.
Luke 14:26-27, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.”
For too long, the western church has preached comfort and security, but failed to preach the cost of the Gospel—the suffering and sacrifice that is necessary.
2 Timothy 3:12, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.”
Luke 17:32-33, “Remember Lot’s wife! If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.”
For too long we’ve been content behind the four walls of our church buildings and let people come to us. Since we have refused to go out, perhaps refugees coming into the country is God bringing them to us.
The ban on Muslims from certain countries is temporary, but I believe the western church is fast approaching a critical fork in the road. We will have to decide whether we will continue to choose comfort and security or whether we will choose to risk everything for Christ. We will have to ask ourselves some serious questions.
Is seeing our enemies come to salvation worth losing our comfort?
Is the spread of the Gospel worth risking our safety?
Is sharing the love of Christ worth losing our lives?
It would appear that shutting out those that pose a threat to us is in our best interests, but we had better be careful that we aren’t shutting out Christ.
Matthew 25:34-40, “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for your from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
Then these righteous ones will reply, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?
And the King will say, “I tell you the truth, when you did it for one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.”
We must be careful that the borders we are closing are not the physical borders of our country, but the spiritual borders of our hearts. Jesus defied logic by choosing to allow Judas to get close to him, but remember he also chose Peter, who betrayed him as well. Though Judas was lost because he rejected Jesus, Peter repented, went on to preach the Gospel boldly and ultimately die for his Savior. Paul, was a murderer of Christians, but Jesus chose him to preach the Gospel. Where would we be if Ananias had refused to obey God? Where would we be if Jesus had rejected Peter for his betrayal? For every Judas lurking among Muslim refugees, there are potential Peters and Pauls who need redemption. For every enemy, God has the power to transform them into brothers and sisters in Christ.