1. full of conflicting emotions or impulses:
a situation that makes one feel very conflicted.
I am an American patriot. I am a Christian. I am conflicted.
Five days ago Paris was attacked by radical Muslims. Last night there was a “serious threat” of another attack in Germany. This year alone ISIS has claimed 65 beheadings of Christians and killed countless people in soft-target attacks. The nation of Saudi Arabia
has beheaded at least 175 including children and persons with disabilities. ISIS has forced countless Yezidi women
and children into sexual slavery. Boko Haram (
also called ISWAP or the Islamic State’s West African Province) has killed thousands and is now considered the most deadly terrorists organization in the world.
For decades Syria has allowed itself to become a hotbed for terrorism. While all of the above atrocities were taking place, more than THREE MILLION
refugees have fled the nation of Syria and approximately six million others have been displaced within their nation.
It is estimated that at least 7% of Muslims have been radicalized and seek to inflict terror on all non-Muslims. There is no way to know how many terrorists are mixed in with the refugees.
And now… Syrian refugees have begun arriving in America. A news report yesterday stated that the first of the refugees to be unaccounted for, disappeared in my hometown of Baton Rouge (where my son is going to college) and then was later located in my current home of Washington, DC.________________________________________________
There is only one sentence written above this line that is not fear-inducing. “I am a Christian.”
What does it mean to proclaim that I am a Christian? It means that I am a follower of Christ. It means that my words and actions
should emulate those of Jesus. Close to 80% of Americans also claim to be Christians. That means that 4/5 of Americans SHOULD have actions and words that emulate those of Jesus.
But being an American patriot and being a Christian tends to leave one conflicted…
While the refugee was missing yesterday, EVERYTHING IN ME wanted to go get my son. As I wrestled with fear I sat my Bible in front of me and said,”God, I need peace and I need wisdom. Please show me how to see this world and all the people you’ve created, through your eyes.”
This was the first verse I read.
2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. ~Any decision based in fear is not of God. Period.
Funny thing about that verse is that I had just read this analogy comparing a bowl of M&Ms to the refugees. The analogy asked if I would eat from the bowl knowing that 7% of them were poison. And then that verse…
God did not give me fear.
He gave me power, love, and self-discipline. I would not eat the M&Ms because I have self-discipline, NOT because I am afraid. Refugees are not candy. They are human beings created in the image of God.
Romans 2:11 God DOES NOT show favoritism! Some days I’m fairly certain that I’m His favorite. Guess what. You’re His favorite too! Guess what else. So is every person born in every corner of the world including the Syrian refugees.
God did not give you fear.
In 2008, for several reasons, I registered to vote as an Independent. First, I could no longer say that all of my political views strongly aligned with any political party. Second, I never want a politician to assume they have my vote because my registration says that I’m aligned with their party. Last (and most important), I was strongly convicted about placing my patriotism and my political stands above my role as a follower of Christ. An idol is anything that we revere or worship or use to define us. Americanism had become an idol in my life. Scripture, after scripture, after scripture, command Christians to have no other Gods before the one true God and to avoid making an idol of anything. The American Constitution is a brilliantly conceived document and I am grateful every day for the freedoms and opportunities it affords me as an American. But it is not the word of God. The American “dream” is noble and worthy, but it is not the great commission.
Most of the laws of the land are sensible and comforting and give me a sense of safety. But laws do not equal the greatest commandments. “…Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Am I still conflicted? Absolutely! But in the midst of my confliction I must stand on my convictions. I’ve been called many things in my life, but the one that always stings the most is “hypocrite”. I do not want to live an hypocritical life. I want my beliefs and my behaviors to align.
A few years ago I used Jesus’ story of The Sheep and The Goats
to explain to church leaders why their treatment of children with special needs was not okay. If I don’t want to be called a hypocrite, I can’t very well use the words of Jesus to point out the failures of others while ignoring those very same words as they apply to me. This is where the rubber meets the road…
Matthew 25:41-45 “Then he will turn to the ‘goats,’ the ones on his left, and say, ‘Get out, worthless goats! You’re good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—
I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
Sick and in prison, and you never visited.’
“He will answer them, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.’
I have no flippin’ clue what walking this out will look like. But I know that I must love and that I must not fear. I know that I have to put my responsibilities as a representative of Jesus before my desires to protect the way of life created by America’s founding fathers.
Is it a gift to be an American? Absofrickinlutely! Do I enjoy the possibilities and prosperities afforded by the American dream? Every minute of every day. But you know what? In Luke 12:48 Jesus said, “…When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” Being an American is not an excuse, it’s a reason. I am not excused from caring for anyone who needs food, or clothing, or shelter.
Is any of it fair? Or just? Or palatable? Nope. I want to see anyone that doesn’t share every one of my beliefs as my enemy. But guess what Jesus said about our enemies? “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” Matthew 5:44 I want to put all kinds of labels on people and use those labels as excuses for why I just can’t love them. I’m sure you do too. But Jesus said we have to see and serve as if we are serving Him. We have to see “them” as “Him.”
Luke 9:23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me.
The cross? It’s the place where our bad choices and heartaches and wounds are cleaned by the blood of Jesus. It’s also the place where our selfish ways go to die. It’s the place where we nail our idols and false gods and leave them behind. It’s where anything that defines us other than God himself must bow down and surrender.
From this day forward I want my morning declaration to be:
This is the day that I pick up my cross. This is the day that I die to self.
Lots of love.