Why Christians Shouldn’t Fear the Immigration of Refugees

7 Thoughts To Consider Regarding Immigration and Refugees

World-wide hate crimes and acts of terror are increasing the need to relocate people to safer locations.  Along the way, one word seems to guide the conversation – fear.  While uncertainty is no doubt a major cause of fear, Christians should have nothing to fear.

Why Christians Shouldn’t Fear the Immigration of Refugees

In fact, Christians should be embracing immigration and welcoming refugees. Here are seven thoughts to consider:

1.     Refugees are seeking help.

Just like Joseph’s family fled to Egypt for famine relief (Genesis 46-47), and Jesus’ family searched for refuge in Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15), many are looking for help in our world today.  Their beliefs and values don’t always line up with ours, but their need for safety is more than real.

2.     God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear.

We’re called to spread the truth and grace of the gospel without fear. We should be unashamed of God’s grace, and pursue love and self-discipline (2 Tim 1:7). If we have the opportunity to love others, we should do so.

3.     It’s not about us – we’re called to selflessness.

Jesus humbly gave his life for others; we should humbly invite hurting people to safe sanctuary. Click To TweetWe can quickly play the “national security” card, but if we were honest with ourselves, we would know we need to put the needs of others before ourselves.

“In humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to [your] own interests, but also to the interest of others…Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God…but made himself nothing…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:3-8, ESV)

Jesus humbly gave his life for others; we should humbly invite hurting people to safe sanctuary.

4.     We need to love others, even when it hurts.

It doesn’t matter who it is or what background they may come from, a person in need is a person in need.  Jesus said the two greatest commandments include “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” When asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He used a parable to describe a man who loved and helped another man in need despite his differences. (Luke 10:25-37)

5.     We’re called to welcome “strangers”.

From the Old Testament to the New, the call to love “strangers” and “sojourners” has never ceased.  God reminded the Israelites to love strangers because they were once strangers in Egypt themselves (Deuteronomy 10:19).

Paul describes a true #Christian as someone who seeks to show #hospitality -- #refugees #immigration Click To TweetPaul describes a true Christian as someone who seeks to show hospitality, lives in harmony, and even loves their enemies to the extent of meeting their needs (Romans 12:9-21). The reach of hospitality should be fully extended.

The Hebrew writer even reminds us that, in our hospitality of strangers, some have actually entertained angels (Hebrews 13:2).  In our fear, have we ever pushed away God’s messengers?

6.     We were all once “aliens”.

From a theological perspective, all Christians were once “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God” (Ephesians 2:12).

Through Christ, however, we are one body.  It really doesn’t matter what the religious intentions of refugees may be – God loved us before we loved Him.  God provided a way for us to become united when we were all strangers to the Kingdom.  Why should we fear those seeking peace?

7.     We’re called to show God’s accepting love.

James wrote, “Faith by itself, if it does not have [good] works, is dead” (James 2:17).  We can believe in God, belong to the Kingdom, and be a “Christian,” but if we do not physically meet the needs of those around us, “what good is that” (2:16)?

I know we have to be responsible and ensure we are actually meeting legitimate needs in the world, but any true follower of Christ should fearlessly pursue the act of welcoming and helping refugees as the need arises.

This is not to say that the less fortunate in our own hometowns should be ignored.  Jesus is calling us to “make friends” with our “worldly wealth” (Luke 16).  That means to consistently help those with less to the point of unity – bringing people out of poverty, helping those in the community, and pointing people to the truth of eternity.

Viewing the #immigration of #refugees selflessly...is part of the very essence of the #Kingdom! Click To TweetViewing the immigration of refugees selflessly, and not selfishly, is part of the very essence of the Kingdom!  I pray we can release our selfish conservative nature and engage in true ministry.

Your turn…

How do you view the immigration of refugees?  Is there a difference between government policy and Christian responsibility?


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A Poorly Written Government Motion?

A Christian Response to M-103

Canadians are stirred up over the recent private member’s motion (M-103) that was tabled back in December 2016.  You can read the motion here: Systemic racism and religious discrimination. As of this posting, the House of Commons has begun their debate (February 15, 2017).

M-103 A Poorly Written Government Motion

Despite the numerous concerns being voiced, it’s expected that government will pass the motion.  This really shouldn’t be difficult to understand since we are still living in the aftermath of events like January’s attack at a Quebec Mosque.

What’s of more concern, however, is the riled “Christian” response.  Many are upset that Government is protecting another religion over their own.  Many believe this is step one, to losing their freedom of speech.  Others still believe that this is the back door to a “hidden agenda”.

Whatever the debate at hand, this is a poorly written motion that will pass and Christians will have to come to understand how to navigate the Christian faith in a shifting Canadian landscape.

Christendom is over…

Canada is not a Christian country.  It hasn’t been one for quite some time.  We are a nation that encourages and celebrates diversity.  That doesn’t mean Christianity doesn’t belong in Canada, it just simply means policy is not influenced by Christianity.

Pluralism is in…

Some argue we are in a post-Christendom era, however, with motions like this one on the table, I would argue that we are even further from that.  Perhaps it’s more accurate to say Canada is in a “Plural-dom” era – where policy affects religion, and yet religion doesn’t affect policy.

A Poorly Written Motion

If, in fact, we are living in a pluralistic culture, ALL religions should be protected within the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  That doesn’t mean everyone will agree, rather, everyone has the right to believe what they believe.  Any further motion and potential bill, should aid in protecting against ALL religious hate crimes and should speak to ALL religions, and not just one.  Currently, Islam is the only religion specifically mentioned.

The implications of naming only one religion only further damages the very idea government is trying to encourage. If all faiths are equally protected, then all faiths should be mentioned or no faiths at all (keep it general). With only one faith mentioned in this motion, it will unequivocally end in further hate towards the faiths not mentioned and protect Islam before the rest.  Blacks and Jews, for example, both experience the highest rates of hate crimes in Canada.1

Further, the lack of clarity in the motion doesn’t help.  Will you be able to challenge or debate anything? The very act of healthy criticism and discussion is what helps us to shape and understand the belief systems we all believe in.  Healthy criticism and debate is far from hate, but a lack of clarity leads people to uncertainty.

If the actual intent is to protect all faiths, then M-103 is a poorly written motion.If the actual intent is to protect all faiths, then M-103 is a poorly written motion. Click To Tweet

With that said, I pray that any resulting bill that may, or may not, be placed before the House will be written with clarity and with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in mind.

So how should a Christian respond?

I understand these are uncertain days and that people can feel threatened.  In a pluralistic society, however, we have to be very careful in how we respond.  If we want to make a positive impact for Jesus, here are some guidelines:

1. Celebrate in the fact that our government would like to stop hate crimes.

This should be a win for any believer.  Hate is not a good thing and Jesus calls us to love one another – even our enemies (Matthew 5:44).  What’s even more exciting, is that the Canadian government wants to take action without instilling fear.

2. Pray for our leaders.

Our leaders will make decisions you may or may not agree with, but the tensions they are trying to navigate are vast.  They need our prayerful support, not our unleashed anger (1 Timothy 2).

3. Ensure to give others the rights they deserve.

In Canada, everyone has the right to choose a religion and state their opinion and beliefs.  We should remember that this is a biblical concept – it’s called freewill (2 Peter 3:9).

4. Voice concerns in a respectful way.

Be intelligent, act responsibility, and be above reproach.  Everyone has the right to speak, but speaking out of anger or fear is not having “the same mindset as Christ” (Philippians 2).

While the problems with M-103 have the potential to be great, we need to learn to respond with the same Christian values we long to protect.

Christendom is over and pluralism is our new reality.  The best voice Christians can have is one of respect and concern for those with different beliefs.  God loves everyone and wishes all of them to be saved (2 Peter 3:9), but that message is lost when we selfishly try to restore Christendom in a nation that has already moved on.

Your turn…

What are your thoughts on this private members’ motion (M-103)?  How can Christians responsibly navigate the days ahead?


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Are We ALL ‘Children of the same God’?

A Response to the Call of Unity and Salvation

The call for unity and peace has never been greater.  The world is searching for an appropriate answer for the political, religious, and racial tensions that overwhelm the news every day.  Unity seems to be the best solution.  If all positive people unite together to obtain peace and love, we’ll be alright.  The problem – while peace and love can be unifying characteristics, it doesn’t mean we believe the same thing.

Are We ALL Children of the Same God

In a recent homily, Pope Francis said this:

“All of us together, Muslims, Hindus, Catholics, Copts, Evangelical [Protestants] brothers and sisters – children of the same God – we want to live in peace, integrated.”1

Are we really “children of the same God”?  Is his understanding correct?  Can there be more than one meaning to that phrase?  I believe Pope Francis is correct in what he means, but misleading in what he said.

God is the Father of Humanity

From the beginning, God created both male and female in His own image (Gen 1:27).  God is the Father of Adam.  In Luke’s genealogy, Jesus is literally related to “Adam, the son of God” (Luke 3:38). God is the Father and creator of every person on this earth.God is the Father and creator of every person on this earth. #Gen1 #Luke3 Click To Tweet

Sin Changed the Relationship

When Adam and Eve sinned, the relationship between humanity and God changed (Gen 3).  God remained as our Father, but we failed to remain his faithful children.  In family terms – because of sin, we are no longer natural heirs of the Kingdom.  God is our Father, but our sin has forfeited our rights as His children.

God Made a Covenant with Israel

As history unfolded, God made a covenant with Abraham, and through him all of Israel, to be a great nation – “the children of God” (Gen 15, 17; Ps 82:6). The Israelites would be God’s chosen people.  Even then, however, the people turned away and lost their blessing (Jer 2; Hos 11).  God remained as their loving Father, but His children relentlessly turned away.

Until the turning point – when Christ was born.

Jesus Provides Adoption

Through Jesus, and only through Jesus, we can become reunited as God’s true children.  He always was, always is, and always will be our Father, but the only way we can receive the “right to become children of God,” is by “receiving [Jesus] and believing in His name” (John 1:12).

As Paul wrote:

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

4 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Gal 3:26-4:7, NIV)

Until we accept Jesus we are like slaves and have no right to Kingdom.  We are all created by the Father, but naturally heirs of our sin.  When we accept Jesus and follow Him, we not only become “adopted children,” but also “rightful heirs” of the eternal Kingdom to come.

Where we misunderstand each other…

Pope Francis is a positive wildcard in the Catholic Church right now.  He is stirring a new generation of Christians to engage in acts of service and love.  His true “Good Samaritan” acts, like washing the feet of Muslim migrants, is truly humbling and inspiring.2  When he said all are “children of the same God,” he was referring to our origin, not our salvation.  Our word choice and our understanding of those words, can dramatically impact authentic unity.

I believe God is my Father.God is the Father of all, but those who follow Him are His children. #ChildOfGod Click To Tweet

I believe Jesus, God’s son, is the only way to the Father.

But I also believe in peace.

I believe in choice.

I believe all people (who God created) have the ability to choose their path.

That means all people are created and Fathered by God, but not all people will choose to become rightful children of God.  We are not ALL children of God simply because He is our Father.  God is the Father of all, but those who follow Him are His children.

Your turn…

How have you used the phrase “Children of God?”  Are you a “child of God?”


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Bring Back the 50s “Wife”!?

Balancing Towards a Healthy Marriage

A photo has recently circulated around social media describing how a wife in the 1950s should prepare for her husband’s return from work.  Now, before I say anything else, let the record show that if I expected any of these items from my wife, she wouldn’t be my wife for very long. But the picture did get me thinking – have we discarded some valuable marriage advice on account of the extreme conditions we found ourselves in?

bring-back-the-50s-wife

If you have yet to see the photo, here it is:

tips-to-look-after-your-husband

We read these 1950s guidelines humorously in 2016.  Many today can’t even imagine living in a world with that mindset.

But here’s the issue: we have to realize we’re people of extremes. We tend to go from one extreme (nearly abuse of women) to the other (nearly abuse of men).  You could argue against those extremes if you want, but the pendulum definitely swings.

In Canada, the divorce rate has leveled off in recent years, but so has the commitment of marriage.1  In our push to treat women better, we haven’t solved marriage problems.  The problems are just different now.

So, here’s my question: have we discarded anything of value?  To use the common phrase: “Have we thrown the baby out with the bathwater?”

Here are some thoughts to consider:

1. Selflessness is the key to a healthy marriage.

A healthy #marriage should include two people who put the other before themselves. Click To TweetThe verse that says, “Wives submit to your husbands…and husbands love your wives, like Christ loved the Church…” (Ephesians 5:22f) is often misunderstood.  The key to that verse is selflessness.  A healthy marriage should include two people who put the other person before themselves. Why not spoil your spouse!?  The only potential problem – it can’t be one-sided.

2. Generalized gender roles shouldn’t exist.

Our culture demands gender roles – what men and women should and shouldn’t do. Biblically, this shouldn’t be the case.  Jacob and Esau are great examples.  Both were male and yet completely different.  Esau was a hunter, while Jacob was a home-maker.  At no point, does scripture say either of them were “outside” of their gender.2  A healthy marriage doesn’t include generalized roles, rather leverages the strengths of each other.  That means some of these guidelines could actually help stay-at-home dads as well.

3. Listening and communicating to your spouse is a good thing.

If you haven’t heard this before, you haven’t been listening.  Communication and genuinely listening to your spouse is a part of a healthy marriage.  A common issue among divorcees is a lack of attention for each other.  Again, it can’t be one-sided, but it’s something we should value and protect for sure.

4. It takes a community to raise a child.

This 1950 guide seems to put most of the active parenting role on the mother; however, both parents (and sometimes other family and friends) hold that responsibly.  It’s probably safe to say we all agree with that.  The problem is, when we discard this traditional mindset, we can’t forget that if someone does stay home with the children (either parent) their level of daily parenting is still greater.  The responsibility might be equal, while the activity may not be.  A healthy marriage recognizes this dynamic.

5. Stress goes both ways.

There’s no need for “making him comfortable.”  But let’s face it, everyone deals with a variety of issues every day.  A healthy marriage recognizes the daily stress of their spouse.  It’s probably not a good idea to compare the level of stress – the stress is just different.  I wish I was better at this, but creating a “winding-down time” before diving into the world of parenting a toddler would be helpful.

6. Make the evening “ours”.

A healthy #marriage is about being together. #unity #HealthyAttention Click To TweetAfter a long day make efforts to spend quality time together.  Watch your favorite TV show, play a game, or share a funny story.  Even if it’s work around the house, time spent together is valuable.  If there’s one thing this guide has right, is protecting the need for the home to be a safe and peaceful place. It just shouldn’t be one-sided.  A healthy marriage is about being together.

I can’t say I’m perfect on all these fronts [and my wife would say, “Amen!”], but they are things I value and try to work on.

At the end of day, we should probably take this 1950s list and apply it to both spouses.  We have the tendency to dismiss things.  If we lived more selflessly, however, marriage would become a sought after commitment instead of a traditional option.

Your turn…

What aspects would you want to protect or return?  How can we move towards balance and not another extreme?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]

Trump or Clinton?

How does a Christian navigate the 2016 US election?

At this point, I would think many Americans have their minds made up.  In fact, over 24 million Americans have already voted.1  There are “Christian” reasons to vote for either of these candidates. The question remains: who has God chosen to lead America and how will the world react?

trump-clinton

“Christian” Politics

I recently saw a diagram outlining the American characteristics of the left versus right politics.2

leftright_us_1416-1When you start describing the “Christian” view, it’s difficult to stay on one side or the other.  Here are some examples:

  • Christians should be inclusive, and yet protective of established morals.
  • Christians should be loving and build relationships of respect and trust, and yet tough love is often required to build discipline and a strong character.
  • Christians should help those in need to encourage unity and equality, and yet make the most of every opportunity and be great stewards of our resources.
  • Christians should pursue peace, and yet protect those who cannot defend themselves.

The problem in 2016 is that neither of the candidates fit perfectly into the ideal left or right, and neither are “Christian.” Clinton has proven to be untrustworthy, or even unethical at times, and Trump’s tactics are aggressively non-conservative.

My point is this – voting “Christian” is not an option.  American Christians need prayer so they can choose the leader God has already chosen. #Election2016 Click To TweetThe choice is between Clinton, who has few Christian morals but has some Christian polices, and Trump, who holds true to most Christian morals, but has few Christian polices. American Christians need prayer so they can choose the leader God has already chosen (Acts 1:24), not the “Christian” leader, because that’s not an option.

In God we trust…

As the Pledge of Allegiance and the US currency clearly states, the American people put their trust in God.  While many now don’t truly believe this, Christians certainly should because scripture tells us to do so. In the case of political leaders, we know God is completely in control!  Paul wrote:

“…there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” (Romans 13:1, NIV)

No matter the final outcome on November 8, God is completely in control and there is no need to fear.  American Christians need prayer so they can trust God, and not fear the outcome.

The Canadian Christian Reaction

I’ve watched the Canadian reaction during this election at a bit of a distance.  As a Canadian, I really don’t have much to say, other than pray for fellow believers as they try to navigate through the muddy waters.  If you’re Canadian, this is my advice:

  1. Pray – honestly and earnestly pray for American Christians as they go to the polls to vote. Pray that they hear God’s voice and vote accordingly.  Pray that they don’t fear the outcome, but put their trust in God’s direction. American Christians need prayer so they can trust God, and not fear the outcome. #Election2016 Click To Tweet
  2. Don’t advocate – you’re Canadian, not American. I wouldn’t expect Americans to understand Canadian politics either.  All I know is that the election is far from ideal and both candidates have pros and cons.  As Canadian Christians, should we be advocating one way or other? Probably not.
  3. Publicly state your support – as fellow believers, let American Christians know you support them. Let them know you’re praying for them and the results of the election.  If there’s one good thing about social media – it’s your platform to bring encouragement internationally.
  4. Pray for our government – Trudeau and his government will have to work closely with whoever is elected. Pray for wisdom, so that our leaders don’t lead out of fear.

Your turn…

Are you praying? How do you think Canadians should react to the election?

I would love to hear from you!  Feel free to comment below, on social media, or by email (andrewholm@gmail.com).  SUBSCRIBE HERE!

References   [ + ]