As a pastor of New Life CityChurch, I feel very blessed to have deep relationships with people representing each generation, multiple races, diverse education and experiences and various socio-economic standards.
I want to do something to help people in need…whether they are wealthy or poor, orphans or children with healthy parents, homeless or homeowners, refugees or citizens of the USA. I would say that nearly all of my Christian friends and many of my non-Christian friends would agree with my desire to do something.
However, a quick read of my facebook and twitter feed could make you doubt that. There is an obvious divide among my Christian friends on what to do…and some of the divide can be characterized by generation.
So this morning, my close friend, who is a Baby Boomer and I, a Gen X had a respectful conversation about the #refugeecrisis. We each wanted to hear…and not just be heard.
When we finished, I liked Mike and Jesus even more…
We heard each other sharing our love for people …for all people…of all generations.
…for men and women representing “The Greatest Generation”, many who fought for the freedom I often take for granted…for men and women representing the “Baby Boomers”, many who have worked tirelessly to build wealth and opportunities that I often take for granted…for men and women representing “Generation X”, who are growing as world leaders in business and politics and are also busy and tired raising kids, saving for college and planning for the future…for the men and women representing the “Millenials”, many who have limited experience but represent the brightest minds and greatest leaders for our future who are deeply compassionate and are making a difference in our world…for the youngest people representing “Generation Z”, many who are still learning to read and write and will grow up into a world that is changing exponentially.
After more than an hour, multiple tensions came into focus:
- Different generations have different perspectives…this is a good tension as long as we don’t digress to attacking the worth of a person based on their ideology or generation
- There is a tension between my role as a citizen and my role as a Christian…when my faith in Jesus and my security as a citizen become co-dependent, each is at the risk of the other
- There is a tension between my own gratitude for the sacrifices of others and obligation to make similar sacrifice…many who are older than me have already risked their life for mine, while some younger than me are prepared to risk their own lives
So how do these tensions relate to my view of the Syrian Refugee crisis? Over the past several years Leigh-Ann and I have built friendships with several refugees from the Middle East. Some with children with similar ages to our children, the only difference is that our children were born in Kansas City while their children were born in Baghdad with constant bombings. Others spent time on the payroll for Saddam Hussein and were even trained in his army. Oh, and they also hold to the Muslim faith. These relationships make it difficult for me to want to shut them out or be fearful…I actually like them…and they cook incredible food :). Leigh-Ann and I would love for them to know the Jesus of the Bible, not the Jesus of social media. One thing we do know is that we may be the only Jesus they ever see…and that is sobering.
When it comes to the current crisis, there is no easy next step. But if you’re interested, here are a few suggestions:
- Learn more about Jesus (even if you have gone to church for a long time), love Jesus and live for the honor and glory of Jesus.
- Listen…then listen more…resist forming opinions about individuals until you give them the benefit of listening to them.
- Look for the faces behind the rhetoric…faces of people who are searching for happiness and fulfillment, just like you and me.
- Love your family, your friends and a very wise Person once said to even love your enemies.
- Pray…a lot.
Jesus said it best in John 13:34–35, ” A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”