Must Christians disregard their personal security?

Must Christians disregard their personal security? December 2, 2015

KeyholeLike many Christians I have mixed feelings about the Middle East refugee situation. On the one hand, I agree with Presidential candidate Ben Carson, who said:

“If we’re going to be bringing 200,000 people over here from that region — if I were one of the leaders of the global jihadist movement and I didn’t infiltrate that group of people with my people, that would be almost malpractice.”

It seems certain that ISIS will try to infiltrate the refugee stream with its operatives, just as they did in Paris. We cannot allow terrorists to enter the U.S. and carry out their attacks against innocent people.

But on the other hand my heart breaks for the refugees. I can’t imagine Christ turning away these suffering people. We are a nation of immigrants. Jesus himself was a refugee – who fled for his life as an infant.

Christians seem divided on this issue. Some see a greater calling to protect the refugees – while others see a greater calling to protect innocents here at home.

This dilemma got me thinking – is it proper for a Christian to care about his personal safety, or the safety of his nation?

Supreme court justice Robert H. Jackson famously said, “The constitution is not a suicide pact.” American law is highly protective of individual rights – but not to the point that it must imperil society.

So what about the Bible? Must Christians put aside every concern for personal or national security in order to follow Jesus? Is it immoral to consider our own safety when deciding who can live among us?

This is another situation where the Old and New Testaments seem to be in conflict. Both reflect the geopolitical realities of the times in which they were written.

The grand narrative of the Old Testament is Israel’s search for a promised land where the Jews can live in safety and peace. It was a time when nations regularly invaded one another. Entire peoples were “put to the sword” by their neighbors. City-states walled themselves off to survive.

Against this backdrop, the Torah generally takes a dim view of foreigners. Yes, the Old Testament contains scattered verses urging hospitality for strangers — but it contains chapter after chapter warning the Israelites against intermingling with other cultures. Yahweh’s anger burns hottest when Israel forgets the Jewish law and begins following the customs and deities of its neighbors.

Jesus was born into a different world – Pax Romana. The globe was relatively stable under Roman occupation. Cultures commingled more freely as travel and trade spread across the globe.

Christ’s teachings are rooted in this more orderly world. The parable of the Good Samaritan shows us the power of radical welcome. Jesus urged his followers to love their enemies, and to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Christ crossed racial and gender barriers (the woman at the well).

So do we live in a safe time or a dangerous time? Is today’s world more like ancient Israel or Pax Romana?

Most historians agree that the world has never been more peaceful than it is today. War may seem prominent thanks to 24-hour cable news – but in fact there’s less war on planet Earth today than in most of human history. Cities are getting safer all the time – even safer than the countryside. And despite a rash of high-profile shootings, gun violence has declined sharply in recent years.

Against this backdrop, it seems that the followers of Jesus should err on the side of compassion over security. We have it good in the West. Therefore, we should take the risk and let the refugees in – while doing our best to screen out potential terrorists.

But how far do we go down this road?

As followers of Jesus, must we completely disregard our personal and national security as we abandon everything to follow our Lord? Does suspicion reveal a lack of faith? If we really trusted Jesus, wouldn’t we open our borders and let every hurting person in? How can we deny the blessings of liberty to any person based on his or her birthplace? Would Jesus say, “Sorry – you were born in Syria – you can’t come in.”?

So I’m back to where I started. When it comes to evil, I’m no Pollyanna. The Bible is not a suicide pact. Yet, even though “the world is scary as hell – Christ calls us to love anyway.”

So what do you say? Do we sin when we put our personal safety first? Are nations ever justified in turning suffering people away? Are national borders inherently immoral? Comments are open.

David MurrowDavid Murrow is the author of the bestselling book, Why Men Hate Going to Church. David’s books have sold more than 175,000 copies in 12 languages. He speaks to groups around the world about Christianity’s persistent gender gap. He lives in Alaska with his wife of more than 30 years, professional silk artist Gina Murrow. Learn more about David at his Web site,, or join the conversation on his Facebook page, Don’t forget to share this page by clicking on the links below, or scroll down and leave a comment (right below those annoying ads that pay for this blog). 



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