Refugees have continued to grab the headlines. What was once an issue, which was out of sight and out of mind, has now moved firmly into the foreground.
As we continue to see the desperate plight of refugees in Europe does Christian faith have any useful comment to make? Well, yes! The movement of people is nothing new. How we treat refugees matters a great deal. After all, if we were refugees then how would we want to be treated?
It is all too easy for what is unfamiliar and uncertain to become a target for criticism, a source of fear, or a reason to be biased. Christians are to base their own response to others on the teaching of the Holy Bible. If there is a whiff of unhealthy nationalism in the air, then it is right to think again and be wary of being drawn into such a worldview. For the Holy Bible teaches a different outlook on life: there’s a choice between being worldly or heavenly minded.
To be heavenly minded is to know that your home is in heaven and not in this world. For those who have put their faith in the risen Jesus their home is with him. The Apostle Peter brings this out when he described Christians as ‘strangers in the world’ (1 Peter 1v1). He dwells on the marvel of the grace of God, ‘who has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ (1 Pet 1v3). Christians live in a country not their own.
A second similar line of thought comes from the Apostle Paul. While writing from prison he talks about how knowing Jesus will return one day dramatically changes your outlook: ‘But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body’ (Phil 3v20-21). Jesus will return to overthrow evil and establish his righteous reign. It means that the things of this world are temporary, while the things that belong to Christ’s Kingdom are eternal. Jesus’ followers are citizens of his Kingdom and are to live in the light of it. It changes our view of others from a worldly to heavenly perspective. We will genuinely love others. We will want to bring people into the Kingdom of Christ. We will live for different goals. We will long to see our King face to face.
If we are at ease in this world, then we need to reconsider the direction we are taking. For Jesus has promised to return.