I am afraid {Does that make me a bad person?}

I am afraid {Does that make me a bad person?} November 23, 2015

Since the Paris attack, this could be called the season of fear. Multiple terrorists’ threats, continued taunts from the enemy, and the realization that life for all us is more complicated as we wrestle with right and wrong, compassion and security, love and dread.

We are emotionally driven by fear these days. And it’s amazing what that produces – Irrational thought, knee-jerk reactions, and overreaching decisions. But it’s understandable when we feel threatened.

Think about your job. How many rash decisions are made because of a bad quarter of results, or one person who didn’t follow the rules, or a freak accident?

Fear is both a great motivator and a terrible filter for truth.

Many of the political figures are capitalizing on fear, from calling for a ban all Syrian refugees to a  database for Muslims,

Fear2

And the President has been quick to shout down, even mock the fear mongers. He accused those who are asking for a slowdown in refugee acceptance of being “scared of widows and three year-old orphans.” Making fun of people isn’t the most advisable thing to do when they are afraid. They need to be reassured. They want leadership. They want to feel safe.

No one wants to hear they are being irrational when every fiber in their body is twitching and their brains are on overload.

Here’s a note to the President, to Congress, and to all the “experts” on Facebook. If you want to shut down the fear-mongers, address the fear.

We fear for our safety.

Most adults remember exactly where they were when the towers fell. It’s like another generation remembering when President Kennedy was shot or the previous generation when Pearl Harbor was bombed. These are defining moments of our existence and they are all marked by fear for our collective safety.

Don’t dismiss this. Don’t mock it. Don’t deny it. Address the fear.

I understand the way you are feeling and it’s okay. We all realize that what happened in Paris could happen here. A few men with guns created all that havoc.  It’s only natural to want to protect ourselves from those who might hurt us

Government policies don’t always seem sane but we still have very smart people who are watching over us – -intelligence personnel, law enforcement, and cyber security. They are protecting their families too. We have the best equipment and the best people on the job. It’s not perfect.

Fear is the ultimate weapon of ISIS, Daesh, ISIL, Al Queda. Don’t give in to it.

We fear for our culture

I have heard from many people that think Middle-Easterners don’t easily assimilate. But the same can be said for Asian, African and Baltic peoples and many others. All of these groups have strong family ties, dominant culture, and traditional ways of life. They’ll hold on to their way of life. When I lived in Turkey for two years we still had a Christmas Lemon Tree and hung up Christmas lights. We didn’t assimilate over there very well either.

But it’s understandable when a mass number of people overwhelm a community. We saw this in Germany, when traditional villages of 200 people suddenly played host to 800 refugees. It’s shocking.

A new PRRI survey found that 56 percent of all Americans said Islam was at odds with American values. 73 percent of Evangelicals say the same thing. It’s not regressive to think this way.

Don’t call these people xenophobes or racists. Listen. Understand. Empathize.

In a nation of 300 million people, it’s unlikely 8,000 refugees – or even 60,000 are –are going to change our culture.  But we could and should give these people every opportunity to become part of the America culture. Give them free language classes, job training and every chance to succeed.

A friend of mine told me about Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. This French village of 5,000 that sheltered 5,000 Jews during the Holocaust, “at great risk to themselves, their families, neighbors and village.”

My friend said this. “They did not let fear dictate what they chose to do as the right and compassionate action in the face of great evil and suffering.”

We fear for our faith

As a Christian, I understand. The Islamic – Christian struggle is nothing new. For 1400 years there has been tension, strife and bloodshed. It will not end now – or ever. There are many Scriptures in the Koran that have been used to spread fear and death. These are not enough to condemn an entire faith group since not every Muslim reads, understands or accepts the pronouncements.

The truth is the Judeo-Christian faith and culture doesn’t always mesh with the Islamic way of life. It’s okay to acknowledge this. But if you believe in your God and that Jesus reigns, none of this really matters. Just because someone with an opposing faith structure enters my life, it shouldn’t threaten my core belief.

Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals said this, “Of course we want to keep terrorists out of our country, but let’s not punish the victims of ISIS for the sins of ISIS.”

Did you know in the last four years, the US has resettled 68,707 Iraqi refugees? 12 percent have been men between the ages of 21 and 30.  Of those, 30 percent (21,126) are Iraqi Christians.

Since 2003, the US has resettled more than 762,000 refugees, and nearly 340,000 of them have been Christians, according to State Department statistics.

Will we bring some people into this country who will threaten our safety, way of life and faith? Possible and yes, even likely. But I keep coming back to what Jesus said. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27, 32)

How the Christian can overcome fear

There is a massive cultural shift away from the Christian lifestyle. No longer the dominate political, cultural and community voice, we fear irrelevance.

What this should show us is that our solutions are not found in politics. Our solution is only found in a deepening respect and profound understanding of the love and care of eternal God.

William Wilberforce was a dogged defender of human dignity in his age. He did so not out of political correctness or popularity, but because it was righteous. And these are the things we should do without question.

We have a tremendous opportunity   

What if this shifting of Muslims has God’s hand involved? The scattering could have an eternal consequence for good. At one time they were trapped in a country with little Christian community and now they have a chance to be met by Christian aid workers, missionaries and helpers along their journey.

And once they are settled, they will be surrounded by many more Christians on their block than they’ve encountered in a lifetime. What an opportunity to show Christ to a dark world! What if instead of fear, we embrace it as opportunity.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

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