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Five Words That Make All the Difference in the World

In light of the (barely believable) response to my previous post, I thought I would throw up one more feeble attempt to clarify a few things. I continue to be astonished at both the volume and the content of responses this post has generated. It seems to me that many people have simply misunderstood what the post was trying to do. Perhaps the title was too inflammatory and put people instantly on the defensive. Perhaps I just found the “angry” corner of the Internet. I don’t know.

But, in an attempt to be as clear as I possibly can, here’s the “move” that the title—“I’m sorry, Christian, but you don’t get to make that move”—is referring to.

In sum, if you have no interest in Jesus or his teachings, then you can splash around the hysteria, the fear, and, all the anti-[insert threatening people group/category here] rhetoric you want.

You’ll notice that the “move” that I was saying we are not allowed to make was referring to a type of discourse. That’s why I arranged the words on the page the way I did. So that readers would know precisely what I was saying we, as Christians weren’t allowed to do. We’re not allowed to be fear-mongers and hate-promoters. We’re not allowed to speak about people—even our enemies—in ways that demonize and dehumanize. I don’t think that this should really be a controversial claim.

In challenging Christians to examine our behaviour and speech when it comes to those we consider our enemies (and, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, it grieves me that our discourse so regularly conflates “refugees” with “enemies”), I was not saying that we ought to roll out the welcome mat for ISIS or rapists or murderers or child molesters. I was not saying that our governments should just throw caution to the wind and fling open the doors (again, I wasn’t saying anything about the government). I was not saying that some would not seek to abuse a generous response. I was not advocating an abandonment of wisdom. I was not saying that we don’t have a duty to do the hard work of reconciling love of enemies with love of the vulnerable neighbours that these enemies might threaten.

I was simply calling Christians to exhibit a better way when it comes to how we speak about those who frighten us or make us angry.

A few other points.

  1. I lost count of the number of times someone countered Jesus’ command to love enemies with a reference to Matthew 10:16 (“I am sending you out as sheep among wolves”). It is, perhaps, worth reading that verse in its broader context. Jesus is sending his disciples out to proclaim the kingdom of God, and warning them that they will certainly face persecution and hatred, telling them not to worry about those who can kill the body and not the soul, to not be afraid in the face of opposition that will inevitably come, etc. It seems to me to be just a bit of a leap to interpret these words as a call to vigilant and fearful arms against one’s enemies.
  2. I have also lost count of the number of times people have said, “Well, what are you doing about it? Easy to write a bunch of words! How many Syrians are you welcoming?!” Well, as I mentioned several times in the depressing comment thread on the previous post (and have written about extensively elsewhere on this blog), I am involved in a city-wide project to sponsor Syrians to come to our city. Our church has been working on this since February, and I anticipate working on it for years to come. We are hoping to welcome our first families before Christmas. Although it’s worth noting that even if I was sitting idly by in contented disdain for the plight of Syrian refugees, it would not detract from the point of the post. The possibility that I might be a lousy and lazy Christian, does not change the fact that Jesus said some things about enemies and hospitality and love that Christians should probably take seriously.
  3. I am not saying and did not say that anyone who is not a Christian isn’t moral or has no moral duty. By saying in this post that I am only speaking to those who claim to follow Jesus, I am not saying anything about other belief systems. I am simply indicating the scope of my attention for the purposes of this post. In saying, “if you have no interest in Jesus or his teachings, I am not speaking to you,” I am saying nothing about the content of your ethics or the moral foundations thereof. In saying, “if self-interest is the main consideration that informs your views about life, I am not speaking to you,” I am not saying that self-interest motivates the behaviour of everyone who is not a Christian. Not in any way. I am obviously aware that there are people of compassion and decency from across the worldview spectrum. In framing things the way that I did in the post I was, again, simply indicating who I was and who I was not talking to.
  4. I am not suggesting that Christians must be perfect, nor am I “bashing” Christians. As I said in an earlier comment that attempted to clear some of this up, I am simply attempting to hold up an observable behaviour exhibited by some (not by any means all) Christians to the light of Jesus’ teaching about how we are to treat those we consider in some sense to be “enemies.” This ought not to be a very remarkable endeavour. It seems to me that what Jesus taught (even about really hard things) ought to matter to those of us who identify ourselves by his name. Indeed, there ought to be little that matters more.
  5. As to the utterly bewildering comments that questioned whether or not I am a Christian (he’s probably a Muslim?!) or have any theological training or a job (?!) or demand to know my last name (?!). I welcome you to click on the handy little “About” tab at the top of my blog where you will discover the (surely inadequate) answers to your queries. Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I have some theological training. Yes, I even have a job and a last name.
  6. Finally, I must again note the grim irony that a post that had as its central aim the manner in which Christians speak about those they disagree with/are in opposition to, has often been filled with a stream of vitriol and reactionary, assumption-laden, misguided, and sometimes quite hateful comments. I have never, in the nine-year history of this blog, contemplated shutting down the comments section of a post until this one. Some of the anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim rhetoric has been nothing short of disgusting. There have also been several quite nasty ad hominem attacks. These are unacceptable and will be not be tolerated going forward. We have a duty to do better, as Christians, as human beings, as neighbours.

A final exercise that might make the point I was trying to get at in a bit of a different way. What if we were to reverse the statements of the original post? If you happen to be a Christian, how do these sound to you, in light of the One that you know and love, the one that you follow and obey as Lord and Master?

  • It’s acceptable, as a follower of Jesus, to hunt around for excuses for why we don’t need to include “those people” in the category of “neighbour.”
  • It’s acceptable, as a follower of Jesus, to look for justifications for why it’s better to build a wall than open a door.
  • It’s acceptable, as a follower of Jesus, to label people in convenient and self-serving ways in order to convince ourselves that we don’t have to care for them.
  • It’s acceptable, as a follower of Jesus, to speak and act as if fear is a more pragmatic and useful response than love.
  • It’s acceptable, as a follower of Jesus, to complain that other people aren’t doing the things that we don’t want to do.
  • It’s acceptable, as a follower of Jesus, to reduce the gospel of peace and life and hope to a business-as-usual kind of political pragmatism with a bit of individual salvation on top.
  • It’s acceptable, as a follower of Jesus, to ask, as our default question, “How can I protect myself and my way of life?” and not “How does the love of Christ constrain and liberate me in this particular situation?”

Those five words—as a follower of Jesus—seem to me to make all the difference in the world.

141 Comments Post a comment
  1. There are more problems than just that little adjustment. The whole flavor of the article is wrong. Real Christians are weary of the constant criticism and nitpicking at what Christians SAY…..(which does not kill anybody) vs the silence and no criticism of islam which is a religion of hate and murder. Simple as that.
    You are complaining that Christians are not generous enough…..and ignoring the fact that
    murdering muslims caused the refugee problem. The only solution to the Syria problem is a
    military one…..that is the only thing that violent muslims understand.

    September 21, 2015
    • The nature of God is triune not singular. Found in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not just Son. One cannot just look at the Jesus we encounter in the new testament and say this is the totality of God’s revelation. The totality of what our understandings should be. The God that encounters Moses and mediates the relationship between the Egyptians and the Israelites seems nothing like the version of Jesus you describe here, Ryan. Justice, love, mercy and compassion as adjudicated by our God has included outcomes, that by any other understanding, would be described as ruthless. As to your specific expression of a WWJD and as a consequence how we should respond to that understanding, I appreciate your point of view but have serious reservations. I find your unquestioning commitment to universal charity inconsistent with the Jesus who reminds his disciples to withdraw their blessing and wipe the dust from their shoes from peoples who refuse the Gospel. This Jesus does indeed seem to put up walls around those who refuse him. The great exhortation of Matthew 25 includes a separation of peoples…goats and sheep….Jesus doesn’t seem to have any difficulty banishing those who have lived a life of opposition to his word to eternal damnation. In fact he tells us it is not his judgement, per se but rather an affirmation of theirs choice(s). His commands that you rightly affirm here, are by his words, intended for the “least of his”. But what of those who aren’t his? Doesn’t he also tell us that some have chosen Satan as their Father? People make choices and are held accountable. Our triune God holds them accountable. We must use similar spiritual wisdom and make effort to do the same.

      September 21, 2015
      • i do not get the point or points you are trying to make. My point was the criticism of Christianity and the lack of any criticism of islam—-which has an endless supply. Especially from people who claim to be Christians, but are doing Christianity.

        You are discussing the Trinity….which is the most important thing that separates Christianity from all other religions. Why did you bring that up?

        September 21, 2015
      • I get why you are bringing up the Trinity and have some concerns about an exclusively WWJD approach to ethical decision-making.

        Rick, I think his statement would have been better understood as a theological reply to the original post rather than as a reply to your statement.

        September 22, 2015
      • I agree, the nature of God is triune. And yet, I read passages like Colossians 1 and Hebrews 1 and I can come to no other conclusion but that it is in Jesus that God has made himself most comprehensively known. Jesus is the most accurate, complete, compelling, and beautiful image of God that we have. Jesus is the definitive expression of God’s self-disclosure. For this reason (and others), I cannot start (or end) anywhere else but with Jesus. And, for what it’s worth, I don’t consider this to be an advocating of a naive WWJD approach; rather, I am simply saying, WDJT (What did Jesus teach?) is a vitally important question that must be our default when it comes to the question of how we are to live with, think and speak about our enemies.

        September 23, 2015
      • Chad #

        As to your apparent suggestion that Jesus is somehow different, or has different policies than the father;
        “I and the father are one.”
        “I only do those things which please my father in heaven.”
        “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father.”
        There *is a real difference in view here: a change of covenant. But, “Hear, O Israel, the lord yr God is one God…”
        They don’t flail around executing separate agendas and keeping us guessing about whose policies apply to a given situation. But the covenant did change, and policies did with it.
        We don’t stone people for speaking presumptuously these days, for example.
        Study the change of covenant.
        As for those who might be in a position where they should shake the dust off their feet: again, context, overall tenor of scripture: when Jesus says preach the gospel, he includes healing their sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, etc.
        If you haven’t done these things which demonstrate the goodness and supremacy of God, but all you’ve done is present your little thesis as to why they should agree with you, and they haven’t, you have no basis from which to dismiss them that way. That would be judging by the sight of the eyes, not judging righteous judgment.
        There’s also a message about judging things “before the time,” That would be your sheep/goat scenario.
        Your reference to spiritual wisdom sounds great on the face of it, but your statements, to me, more closely resemble carnal wisdom.
        Pardon me for being blunt.
        I agree though, that Islam demands more honest criticism.

        September 23, 2015
      • Sharon Lindell #

        Thank you!!!! Well written expression of the teachings of the Bible. I’ve had a hard time putting my thoughts into words that come across the way I intended them to. But you did it beautifully!

        November 18, 2015
      • wellspring #

        Thank you .
        Well thought out, well put, and well recieved by this reader.
        Yes, Christ exhorted us to love and care for each other.
        I can do that.
        But i cannot relegate my freedom, or that of my child, to someone who is not so downtrodden as to not only bite, but completely dismember the hand that feeds him. One that has not *iota* of love for me or mine, but rather disdain, hatred, bloodlust, and a burning desire to separate my head from the rest of this old body because I profess the love of God and the Body of Christ.
        There’s an old Indian story of a great chief who had two grandchildren he loved dearly.
        The kids wanted nothing more than to get out of the winter teepee and take a hike up the mountain. It was spring, and a warm and sunny day.
        But the grandfather knew the land was strewn with rattlesnakes, and he feared for their safety.
        After making them *promise* to be *ever* so careful, he reluctantly let them go.
        The children started out, loving the beautiful day and the grandeur of the land.
        They had hiked for a few hours in the hot sun, and soon came to a large shady grove. They heard a small and weary voice calling desperately for help. Looking for the voice’s owner, they soon spied a long, well fed, but sluggish rattlesnake languishing in a cold shady spot.
        Desperate for the warming rays of the sun, he entreated the children, begged them even, to help him out of the grove and into a patch of sunny flat rocks some disrance away.
        But the children remembered their grandfather’s dire warnings and refused him.
        Knowing that if he did not soon warm his body he would die, he begged them all the more harder, promising on *his* children’s lives that no harm would come to them if they would just help to save his life.
        Surely with such a heavy promise of safety, they reasoned, this pitiful creature bore them no ill will, and they agreed to take the large serpent to the rocks. Since the boy was stronger and older than his sister, he draped the great beast round his shouders and they continued on their journey.
        Out of the cold grove and into the warming sunlight , the snake soon regained his strength, and with a horrible swiftness that belied his great bulk, he set upon the children, biting them both viciously about the neck and face.
        As the children lay dying, they understood they had been sorely used and with their last breaths said “…but you were dying, and we helped you and believed your promise- – why would you do such a thing?!”
        The deciever said “Because I *am* a rattlesnake, and you should have known my nature…”

        November 22, 2015
    • Levi #

      I understand Ryan’s concerns. He is right, and any time you put out a “hey y’all” then people are going to take the narrow view and expand it every which way possible. If anyone thinks they can control the postings on social media, well, consider Iran and China. The only way to control postings on social media is to cut off social media.

      Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

      I think this applies.

      November 19, 2015
    • Michelle #

      I think this type of a reply is indicative of one over-arching truth: people will go to great lengths to believe what they want to believe, regardless of logic and reason. If they cannot see the forest for the trees, the map you draw them (no matter how carefully and painstakingly illustrated), will likely be used as toilet paper. Christians believe that they will have to answer for their choices in the end. Until then we can only love them and hope that; in their own time; they come to understand.

      November 19, 2015
  2. Christoph #

    We Christians here in Canada should hear what GOD is doing, in spite of many hateful attitudes by pretend Christians. We should start praying that ISIS killers get vision and dreams of Jesus, as one did. And that particular former ISIS killer is a brother in Christ now. I do know that news does not fit into peoples’ mind like “ricklamacus.”l

    September 21, 2015
    • I live in the real world, not a dream world. Of all the thousands of muslims pouring into Europe, which will turn into millions, perhaps a handful might become Christians. Muslims are the most difficult group on earth to convert. They have a habit to killing their own family members who convert.
      Why can’t you get it into your brain…..islam is not just another kind of Christianity. And it is not just a handful of radical muslims that cause problems—–islam is the problem. It is intolerant of Jews and Christians and ALL muslims are supposed to be radical. It sounds to me that you don’t care if muslims take over Europe.

      September 21, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        Ryan is not addressing anyone here, or in his previous article, except for those who claim to be Jesus’ followers. So, unless you are one of those, then you have no worries.

        If you ARE one of Jesus followers, the presence of Muslims, their “hard headedness”, their violence, etc… as a follower of Jesus, we have this to consider:

        “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” Luke 6:27

        There’s a lot more wrapped up in that chapter about this, as well as in Romans 12, as well as in Matthew 5, and we have Jesus’ example itself (seems to me there were a bunch of folks who hated Jesus and wanted to kill him… and he didn’t fight back).

        So… as a follower of Jesus… what are we to do?

        Seems to me that the guy that we Jesus followers are actually following doesn’t leave us much choice… This does not mean we are sheep, living in a dream world, but it means that we need to be courageous in the very face of death to find ways to be good and do good to even those who would kill us in such a way that their lives will be transformed.

        Consider this bit of common sense… if we shut them out, keep them out, close the doors, and even use military force on them… we are basically reinforcing for them the very reasons why they say they want to kill us. Why not prove them wrong and, to quote Romans 12, in doing so “pour burning coals on their heads.” It seems that Jesus teachines in Luke 6 and Matthew 5 basically play right along with that common sense… that if we do good to our enemies, we are defeating them through our good instead of basically stooping to their level.

        September 21, 2015
      • Hate is one thing. Kill is another. Muslim hate = kill. All others, hate = debate.
        Jesus was never referring to muslims, because they did not exist.
        This latest crisis is an invasion by thousands which will turn into millions of permanent
        muslims that will not assimilate and will be a cancer in Europe. Mosques everywhere.
        It is not about a few families seeking shelter and that is all…no more…like Bible stories.

        September 21, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        And Jesus faced men who hated and wanted to kill. At least two instances he was grabbed to be stoned… And then there is the Pilate/Romans thing.

        September 21, 2015
      • You need to go to the source….Mecca..and do some evangelism work there. You have no fear of muslims, Oh…they would kill you. Yes, average muslims will kill you, not just those radicals. Muslims are dangerous. I care if Europe stays somewhat Christian, and does not go muslim. You are willing to see what happens and so what.

        I know you think you have cute answers and you will never back down on your blind love of muslims. I suppose if someone in your family gets killed by a muslim, you might see the danger. You are misinterpreting the Bible, misusing Bible references, and misleading low information Christians.

        What is your career?

        September 21, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        I have no fear of death, no matter who… And I’d gladly go to Mecca if the opportunity arises.

        I’m not sure how I’m misinterpreting Scripture… It says love your enemies, do good to them, not evil, and Jesus lived it out. And those words of Jesus in Matthew 5 were written in the context of people who could be killed any moment by the Romans, so pragmatism is not part of the hermeneutic.

        Yes, some Muslims may want to kill us… But not all, and certainly not a majority.

        As for my career, already answered.

        September 21, 2015
      • What is the point of the Pilate/Romans reference?

        September 21, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        Context of Jesus life and ministry… They were out to kill Jesus, Jesus didn’t fight back and even instructed his followers in the garden not to fight back… So… That is the reference, historical context

        September 21, 2015
      • But….there was that time when Jesus told his disciples bring weapons with them and a
        weapon was used.

        Love your enemies. Which ones….neighbors who have a bad dog or an invading army that
        is determined to to kill, rape, and steal? Do you love them from a great distance or do you
        hug them just before they stab you and slaughter your family?
        Should the mayor of a town under military attack “love” the invaders and make no arrangements of defense…and let the invaders slaughter everybody?

        It just does not make sense that Jesus meant to love your neighbor under every conceivable circumstance….even as your wife and daughter are being raped before the entire family will be killed.

        September 21, 2015
      • Jesus was on schedule to die on the cross, so he was on a mission and he knew
        he would die….he told his disciples 3 times.

        He told his disciples that things would be dangerous, but he never recommended that they
        go their death wherever they could find it.

        September 21, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        Oh, where to begin. Let’s consolidate our conversation into one thread.

        I want to respond to several things you have said which seem to be making some assumptions about me (and Ryan) that neither of us has said and, even, are in complete opposition to what he and I have said.

        1) I have not said, nor has Ryan, that Islam is “the same” as Christianity. He and I are Christians who believe, as you do, that Jesus is the Christ (or as you quote, The Way, the Truth, and the Life). What we ARE saying is that, even in our disagreements with adherents to Islam, we are to treat them with love as Christ has loved us. Whether or not someone is Christian is not criteria for treating them well. The refugees fleeing Syria are fathera, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, love and beloved as much as I love my own family. Compassion says to care for them.

        2) No one is saying to just roll over and let our families and neighbors be killed, however, killing in return is not within bounds of Jesus’ commandments to us. I quoted a passage from Matthew 5 and Luke 6 and referenced part of Romans 12 which is a quote from Proverbs 25… All of which instruct God’s people to treat those who hate us, who want to kill us, not with the same responses, but with Christ’s transcendent love. If they are hungry, fees them. Thirsty, give to drink. Naked, give them clothes. Etc.

        3) No one has said to go seek death. Instead, to go so good with the understanding that living the way of Christ is a way of risk, even death. As you point out, Jesus.told his disciples this. And that has not changed. Doing good, in this era, will have risk, we may even be killed… Just as Richard Wurmbrand. We are not told “Do good, but make sure you stay safe and keep those who hate you out
        ” He said do good to your enemy… No conditions.

        And all Muslims are not out to kill Christians… I’ve met several, even eaten meals with one or two… And I’m still alive..
        So I’m really at a loss as to why your stereotype holds up and why we must fear all Muslims and, therefore, keep them out of our countries.

        Please, help me understand how your position follows Christ’s teachings

        September 21, 2015
      • Of course..feed, clothe, shelter anybody. But this case of refugees pouring into Europe is a special case. In such outrageous numbers, it is an invasion. If an army with rifles landed on the shore of Greece…10,000 of them….there would be war. If those 10,000 laid down the rifles and walked in…….it would still be an invasion. They can get weapons later. There are many more boats coming. And there is no answer in Europe. The answer is in Syria…whether we like it or not.

        Why the original article caught opposition? It attacked Christians! As if Christians are the problem….not being generous enough to muslim refugees who are fleeing other muslims who want to kill them. The article focused on stingy Christians.

        Not one mention of the source of the refugees….murderous islam. There was no balance in the article….and then the defensiveness in the follow up emails. When you are wrong, you are wrong. Only a 6-year-old could not understand that islam is the exact opposite of Christian culture. Muslims do not assimilate and cause a lot of trouble….when they pile up in one place and build mosques and make all kinds of demands and want new laws to accomodate islam.
        Yes…love, love, love. All we need is love…. What do you get in return for all that love? Islam is a part of the everyday life, all day long. Christianity is nearly dead in Europe and has no chance of standing up to islam. Muslims will buy churches and cathedrals and turn them into mosques… in Istanbul, making huge gains both ways…promoting islam and burying Christianity.

        September 21, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        So, your solution is what? Send them back home to die in civil war? And for us Christians to advocate for more bombings and death? I don’t see how Christians can call themselves Jesus followers and advocate for that.

        September 21, 2015
      • The problem is—–no leadership in the US and in Europe. All of these leaders are pathetic cowards. And Obama despises his own country. When the US is not leading, the world is in big trouble. The solution: The damage is done, due to doing nothing for 2 years. This refugee problem was predictable. The US and Europe have 2 choices:
        –A military takeover of Syria and send the refugees back home
        –Set up refugee camps right at the Mediterranean shore, hold them, and then send them back

        Since they sat back and did nothing, now events have taken control. Refugees are scattered in many countries—-not one country. So there will be many complications, and nothing consistent will be possible. The cowardly leaders will wet their pants and do nothing.

        In this case, the military takeover of Syria would bring the only good result====the muslims would be sent back and Europe would be spared the the muslim invasion. It is what it is.
        The US and Europe did not create the original problem. Islam caused the trouble. What’s new? Same thing since the 622 AD.

        September 21, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        And that brings us back full circle…nations will do what nations will do… But what should be the attitudes if Christians towards those in need, regardless of who they are?

        Answer: Love your enemy and do good to those who hate you.

        September 21, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        Why is actually showing humanitarian compassion to people fleeing the wars not an option? To be truthful, one of the main reasons why the Muslim extremists in the Middle East want to kill Christians, especially European and American Christians, is because we’ve done some pretty horrible things ourselves to them… like drone strikes on wedding parties and double-tap drone strikes in which a second strike follows shortly after the first in order to make sure to kill anyone who may come to help any survivors of the first strike like, oh, I dunno, medical technicians and emergency responders? And there are plenty of people here in the US and in the West who cheer for these things and do these things using the same sort of language Ryan has pointed out in this article and in his original article to excuse it as “protecting us from evil Muslim invaders”. By refusing entry to the men who are seeking refuge, most likely because it’s not safe for their women and children to make the journey (remember the picture of the little boy on the beach?), we are basically telling them that yes, everything they’ve been told by the radicals in the Middle East about the Evil Americans is true… what better way to recruit more than to give them justification to do so?

        No, not I nor Ryan are saying be idiots and not be diligent… nor are we saying that Islam is just as good as Christianity… so you can put away the straw men… ALSO… we are not atheists, anti-Christian, anti-Bible, or any of those other things… we do not want people to die, whether or own or anyone else… so, you can stop with the ad hominem attacks…

        We are saying, that as Christians, ruled by the twin laws of love of God and love of neighbor, the second of which is demonstrated through the parable of the Samaritan (Jews and Samaritans regularly attacked and killed each other in the time period around Jesus), that we should show the same kind of love to these refugees as the Samaritan showed to the Jew on the road… because, after all, we’re better than that Samaritan, right?

        This has nothing to do with governments or anything like that… this has EVERYTHING to do with what Christians should be saying, should be doing, should be focused on with regards to the human beings seeking refuge among us… We have allegience to one King over all, Jesus, and he says to love them.

        You asked, in another comment in another place, “What did Jesus do” and poo-pooed the idea of “What would Jesus do”… you are right, it’s hard for us to say what would Jesus do because he is not physically present with us right now (or is he… “Wherever two or more are gathered…).But, let me answer your question of “what did Jesus do”. Jesus healed the servant of a Roman centurion, an official of the occupying army that was oppressing the Jews… he loved his enemy. Jesus stayed in the home of Samaritans after talking to one woman at the well… he loved his enemy. Jesus healed the ear of the servant of the priest AS THEY WERE ARRESTING HIM TO HAVE HIM PUT TO DEATH… he loved his enemy.

        You say that Jesus never told his followers to go out and seek death… you are right… but he DID say, in Matthew 5 and in other places that we WILL face pain, suffering, even death, because of following him. Jesus says follow him. Jesus WOULD go to those refugees and heal them, feed them, give them love, show them he cared… even if they wanted to kill him, he’d still do it. We’re supposed to be JUST LIKE HIM. So… What did Jesus do? Jesus did EXACTLY what Christians should be doing to OUR enemies… love them in such a way that we don’t care whether or not we live or die, simply we want them to know God’s love in a way that they have never experienced before. Sending them home won’t do that. Locking them away in what amounts to concentration camps won’t do that. Bombing their country to hell and back won’t do that.

        So… Mr. ricklamascus… Enough with the fear, enough with the thinly veiled hatred for anyone who claims to be Muslim… No one is saying for you to approve of their religion.. EVERYTHING Ryan and I and other have been saying is that our OWN religion says to do good, to love them, to not dehumanize them, to not stereotype them as monsters bent on our destruction.

        Jesus’ love is risky. Jesus love WILL bring us pain. Jesus love is a love that sets aside our own comfort, our own safety in order to make sure others are cared for. To treat these Muslim neighbors as enemies to be kept at arms length… how are we any better than them? That’s EXACTLY what the world expects enemies to do… instead, we’re called to something higher, something better, something purer… let’s prove them wrong and, as Jesus says in Luke 6, “Love our enemies and do good to those who hate us”.

        Are you up to that challenge? I’m honestly not sure I am, but I’m willing to give it a shot… how about you?

        September 22, 2015
    • well said..:)

      September 21, 2015
      • Even if a thousand Christians get killed by having muslims in the midst, if there is one convert…it was worth losing the thousand Christians. Who cares about losing family members?

        September 21, 2015
    • Dale #

      Robert all your points are good in a generalized kind of way but you are making the same vague, abstract scriptural rationales people make for gay marriage and anything else they want to try and pass as Christian. Because we need to Love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, should we open the jail doors and let all run free? In fulfilling the commission Jesus said to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves, he said if anyone will not listen to your words leave that town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them. Loving our neighbor does not free us from making the proper life choices, pray for muslims, help them in responsible manners but to make the choice to surround your children with people who not only believe in false gods but more than not, believe Christians should be persecuted and executed is not biblical or right. If someone wanted to build a strip club or a gay bar across the road from you would you welcome it as an opportunity to love your neighbor and find people you can be an example to?

      September 22, 2015
      • To quote Chad above: “As for those who might be in a position where they should shake the dust off their feet: again, context, overall tenor of scripture: when Jesus says preach the gospel, he includes healing their sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, etc. If you haven’t done these things which demonstrate the goodness and supremacy of God, but all you’ve done is present your little thesis as to why they should agree with you, and they haven’t, you have no basis from which to dismiss them that way.” And as for your last question, yes, that is exactly what I would do. That doesn’t mean I can’t appeal to whoever I can to ask that the establishment be relocated, but in the event that it can’t, yes, I would show love. I Corinthians 13:1-7 says “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

        November 20, 2015
  3. Sojourner #

    Ryan…take heart!

    You are right in both this and the previous blog. Thank you so much for making yourself so vulnerable. As a Christ Follower, I have struggled with the balance in this very issue. I have come to a couple decisions for myself regarding my thoughts and actions toward those who are hostile to the truths of Jesus. 1. Love is not trust. I can love my enemy with out trusting my enemy. Trust is something earned. Love is given without conditions. Jesus loves me, but He knows where I can and can’t be trusted. 2. Love…is acting on behalf of another for his good and God’s glory. There is no me in that sentence. Love is about someone else…not self. Therefore, I am compelled to put the other’s good before my own. I fail at this everyday, but it doesn’t mean I should stop the journey.

    Maybe this sounds simplistic, but I believe it. And it is hard, costly and painful. Just ask the One who died showing us how to do it.

    September 21, 2015
    • Not hostile to the words of Jesus….but hostile to Ryan and his followers who will get us all killed.

      September 21, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        The assumption is that the only way to oppose someone who is your enemy on the scale of the supposed Muslim invasion is to use violence and lethal force.

        But Jesus own words challenge that assumption, that we must do something to keep us from being killed. Jesus himself told his followers that, if they chose to follow him, they WILL suffer, they WILL even die. Being a Jesus follower means accepting that.

        Being a Jesus follower does not mean stand back and do nothing as others get killed, but it does mean that our options are limited by one thing, and one thing only… do good, not evil. If taking human life, even an enemy human, is classified as evil (and Jesus does teach about that), then doing good CANNOT include that as an option. This leaves an IMMENSE amount of creative space to discern the best way to do good to our enemies without returning evil for evil… and it is creative space that rarely explore because, unfortunately, the only option usually presented is “kill or be killed”.

        Ryan and his followers (and Ryan would be incredibly embarassed to have anyone be called HIS follower) are not advocating a stance to “get us all killed” but, instead, to treat humans as humans, meet needs, bless people, yes, even bless our enemies who want to kill us, turn around and do good when evil is done. All manner of weird and strange things that have failed us as humans because, well, we just don’t try them.

        September 21, 2015
      • i liked and agreed with what he said. I dont see how we will get killed…maybe you but not me. I am not a church goer becasue of people just like you…i have learnt one demoniation who thinks they are the smartest which I am sure is you. Why not go somewhere and complain about something real and quit chucking stones …run along

        September 21, 2015
      • No wonder you don’t mind seeing Christian culture disappear. I knew it would come out. You are a bitter, ex-Christian who had to get away from all those hypocrites in church. I want Christianity to prosper, spread, and grow. And I choose to not be naive. And I am disgusted with the secular, cowardly leaders of Europe. And the atheist, part time muslim president of the US, who is trying his best to degrade the US leadership in the world. The enemy within…..

        September 21, 2015
  4. Robert Martin #

    You keep dropping those mic’s and they’ll have to start charging you for replacement…

    September 21, 2015
  5. Treena Newton #


    I first have to say that I love your blog and have followed it for the past couple of years. As a lowly MB Bible college student it probably isn’t a shock that I agree with you on your statements (although that is not to say I haven’t been challenged in good ways as well). I am encouraged by the bold humility with which you speak. Ryan, although people have accused you of many things, I believe they do so out of strong personal convictions and believe it is right to do so. I disagree with them, but am thankful for your gracious response in the midst of many careless arrows. From reading you over a longer period of time I believe I know a little of your character and I am willing to say that you speak out of love. Love of neighbour but also love of the church and hope for the church. That is not an easy thing always (if ever). Thanks you. You are in my prayers as you continue to learn and speak and see and act and teach and love. Keep on, brother. There are many Christians with you, there are many saints behind you, there is the Spirit guiding you.

    September 21, 2015
    • Jenna #


      September 22, 2015
  6. Renita Hamm #

    Huston Smith (1991, p. 387) says that all the world’s major religions share an emphasis on three elements.

    1. Humility – the capacity to regard oneself in the company of others as ONE, but not more than one.
    2. Charity – the capacity to regard one’s neighbour as likewise ONE, as fully one as oneself.
    3. Veracity – more than just truth-telling to sublime objectivity; the capacity to see things exactly as they are.

    Ryan, thanks for reminding me, ‘AS A FOLLOWER OF JESUS’, to strive for humility, compassion and truth.

    September 21, 2015
    • John 14:6 ” I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

      A real Christian has to accept this. Christianity stands alone. It is not “one of the religions.”
      There 2 camps in this long-running debate…..those who reject islam and those who keep finding ways to excuse islam and have NO fear of it. By fear, I do not mean some irrational fear, but a healthy analysis of something that can bring extreme harm. Humility, charity, and veracity…..these words are not from Jesus, but a human idea of what humans want. Who is God? Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is the correct Christian answer. No other religion has that answer. Allah is not the Christian God, because there is no Son and Holy Spirit in any other religion. And the koran distorts every OT Bible story and Bible character, which
      is blasphemy. And, of course, clearly denies that Jesus is the Son of God.
      Ryan and those who support him are not in line with the Bible, but in line with what they think
      Christianity is or should be. Love, love, love. Yes, I get it. But, we cannot carry out the Great Commission of Matt 28…..teach all nations….if we are dead, in prison, a slave….due to be
      conquered by islam.

      September 21, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        Oh, the irony, that you post this, Rick, on the very article where Ryan points out that he is talking to Jesus followers… Christians… people who believe in that John 14 verse…

        Since you like to quote Jesus… what’s your response to Jesus words that I posted in reply to you earlier?

        September 21, 2015
      • Which words of Jesus?
        BTW, I am a retired teacher who owns a home and a farm in a separate location.
        I teach adult Bible Study at my church. Tell me your background.

        September 21, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        Matthew 5, paralleled in Luke 6.

        My background: I am a software tester with a Masters degree from seminary in theology with a concentration in ministry and church leadership. I was raised as a Mennonite Anabaptist Christian with parents and grandparents who modeled it to me daily. I grew up with stories from the Martyrs Mirror and of men and women of my own personal ancestry imprisoned, tortured, and killed by other Christians because they didn’t toe the line on the state church. I am an itinerant preacher, a Sunday School teacher, and a writer.

        September 21, 2015
      • No Christian can torture and kill anybody and call it a Christian act. That Christian just left
        Christianity and acted on his own. But a muslim can torture and kill anybody and call it a muslim act, blessed by Allah. Violence is part of islam. Other muslims celebrate muslim murders.
        There is no Christian violence recommended by Jesus or any Christian church. The Inquisiton you say. That was not a Christian project. The Catholic Church was insane, starting with the Pope, to get involved in such a horrible thing. There was nothing Christian about it, and I am confident there will be some unhappy popes and other hierarchy come Judgment Day.

        You seem to see some moral equivalence between islam and Christianity. A real Christian cannot accept islam or any other religion as another good path to heaven. All of my positions are based on John 14:6. Your positions seem to be based on your opinion..

        September 21, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        I have a wife and two teenage daughters and a small home we own in semi-rural Pennsylvania. I am involved in soup kitchens and food pantries. We grow our own vegetables in a community garden and try our best to live within our means. My wife is a cancer survivor

        September 21, 2015
  7. Noel Harvey #

    Well said Ryan and God bless you. We need more people to stand up as you have done. Whilst I appreciate we are all fallen, I truely struggle to understand how so many are blind to the extraordinary love and acceptance that Christ showed those around him and then ignore his direction to “Go do likewise”

    September 21, 2015
  8. Robert, respectfully, I disagree with your interpretation of Matthew 5. I see what you quote as a poignant hope and reminder to those who are his but not a hope for all. Further in the same discourse we are warned not to cast our pearls before swine less they turn and tear us to pieces. Be certain sir, that I no way mean to imply that Syrians or any other peoples, Muslim or not, are swine. I just mean to say that my spiritual discernment allows for a type of response that you and Ryan seem to declare to be unchristian.

    September 21, 2015
  9. David #

    For what it’s worth, I’m grateful for both of these posts. I’m not sure that the Way of Jesus is quite as clear as Anabaptists seem to think, but I welcome the challenge it brings to the larger body of Christ.

    September 21, 2015
  10. Christoph #

    Reading some of these posts in response to Ryan statement, here is my comment. I am not an Anabaptist, just a Baptist, but mostly a follower of Christ. A few years ago as I reflected on John 3:16 I asked myself the followings questions: Does God’s love include/exclude Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Gay, European Secular. Over the last 25 years I interacted with Muslims on three continents (Europe, Asia and North America). In Canada as well as in Turkey I experienced hospitality in a way I NEVER experienced as a Westerner from other Westerners. None of these Muslims tried to kill me. A long term Christian worker in Turkey told us that there are 50,000 different Muslim groups. Yes, 2-3 out of 50,000 groups are extreme. We think all are the same. Are all “Christians” the same? I’m a mission recruiter. My agency ( is a major force among Muslims around the world. Since 9/11 many Muslims turned to Christ. In some countries like Algeria we see a people movement among the Berber turning to Christ. Iran becomes a 2nd China with a strong underground church. Yes, I do love Muslims. It makes me sad when I hear people say that we must kill Muslims. And folks who consider themselves leaders of the American Evangelical community made such sinful statements. I will not mention any by name. Many of the refugees out of Syria/Iraq are not the result of the ISIS, but the civil war in Syria.My company is involved reaching out in Jesus name to these refugees. More people turn to Christ in North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia than they do in North America. Let us stop hate Muslims. And IF WE DO, let us repent.

    September 21, 2015
    • Thanks for sharing your experience here, Christoph. Much appreciated.

      September 23, 2015
    • Hansine #

      This was the best comment I’ve seen. First off, Ryan, I don’t know if you’ll see this, but your post articulated exactly what I’ve been thinking. Thank you. The Church needs to wake up to the reality of Jesus’ teachings and his call to live an uncomfortable, possibly dangerous life for the sake of the Gospel. This earth is not our home, and is so temporary in view of the Kingdom. Secondly, Christoph, thank you for taking a stand. I worked with OM on Lesvos a couple weeks ago and am going back in January to continue to work. The field is ripe for harvest among the Muslim refugees. We met and spoke with many refugees who are becoming apathetic towards Islam because of the wickedness and destruction they have seen it cause. They are responding very positively to the love that Christians are showing them by serving and providing for their basic needs. Jesus is being known among the refugees by the love that his faithful servants are showing.

      November 18, 2015
  11. Good words, Ryan. You’re being a beacon for a different way to frame the “problem” of refugees. Your continued attention to the subject of how Christians respond to the world’s need prevents us from getting complacent or self-righteous. I think you’ve hit some raw nerves and some big Christian insecurities. People, we need to keep speaking of our differences, but with respect and humility!

    September 21, 2015
    • Christians are complacent, self-righteous, and insecure. ————————They are bad.
      Muslims kill villages of Christians, burn prisoners in a cage, chop off heads, execute Christians by firing squad. Mobs scream, “Death to America.” And 9-11. —————They are good.

      We need to get as many of these into Christian countries as possible. They are just like us.
      They can marry into our families—-muslim grandchildren. Especially for Mom’s Muse. That
      way, her grandchildren won’t be so complacent, self-righteous, and insecure. They will be so
      cute in those little burkas and turbans she will make for them.

      September 22, 2015
      • OK, Rick, you’re done here. You simply refuse to engage with actual arguments and are repeating the same things over and over again. Additionally, your comments have been angry, hateful, and rude. You keep berating others for saying things that they have never said or accusing those who don’t agree with you of not being Christians. Your comments will be blocked from now on.

        September 22, 2015
  12. Well said Ryan! I wonder if people are aware, that there are many Christian refugees out of Syria?

    September 22, 2015
    • From what I heard, all the Christians in Syria were killed months ago. i have a feeling that
      made Obama happy.

      September 22, 2015
  13. Ryan, in retrospect I think it unfortunate that you took the bait and responded with criticism to the hostile rants of some within the evangelical community. The entire subset of evangelicals make up less 10% of the world wide church. The angry, American/Republican, hostile to all Islamic people, makes up about half that number. We are talking about less then 5% of the world wide church. Christianity also has a vociferous “terrorist” movement within its midst. To them and their insults we should turn the other cheek. Rise above their openly declared hostilities of people they have never met. These people do not have the Spirit. If they did they could not speak and act in the way they do. These are the enemies we must pray for. These are the enemies we must love. So let us affirm right action and inspire a missionary spirit among the 95% of Christians who understand that their allegiance to Jesus takes priority over their national/political identity. You and I have some disagreements as do manybChristians. I affirm self defence and the Roman Catholic understanding of “just war”. I too have a heart for charity and have already worked in a very small way to relocate two Syrian families last year, yet l do hear the voice of caution. Jesus never healed or fed apart from a declaration of the Gospels. Jesus also warned against associations with the unholy and those who openly refused the Gospel. Prudence and reflection, even with regard to charity seems warranted to me. Unchecked charity can be and is exploited by some, leading to unholy outcomes. Ungodly results. All our efforts to nourish, house, clothe and heal people physically, cannot be separated ( as governments do) from evangelizing. No lights under a bushel basket for us! …. peace be with you brother. :)….. so how is this new found fame thing working out for you? 🙂

    September 22, 2015
    • I like when you offer your defense of your statements. But I wish you would not drift off and accuse me of hating muslims. I do not. I am repulsed by the religion because it is the strongest natural enemy of Christianity. i do not want islam to take root anywhere, especially where it replaces Christianity.
      Amazing…..drone strikes are bad. But 9-ll is forgotten, killing ALL the Christians in Sryria, etc.
      Typical liberal. You can only see the bad in your own. And excuse the enemy. Islam is the only religion I know of that does not respond to love and kindness. Could you find a way to love the US and Christianity above all others?

      September 22, 2015
      • Robert Martin #

        *sigh* OK, Rick… I’m done here… you know why? Because you keep proving my point… I say, “Love the enemy because Jesus said to do so”, I give clear examples of how Jesus exercised that love in order to demonstrate how we should exercise the love ourselves, I back it all up with Scripture…

        … and the only thing you have to say is say, “Muslims are our enemies. We should protect ourselves.” Something just is not clicking with you and all you can do is basically show to everyone who reads your comments EXACTLY the kinds of attitudes that Ryan and I are trying to suggest we change. And then you dismiss it all by saying, “You liberals…” No one is excusing the enemy… instead, we are acknowledging that the enemy exists and, yes, you are right THEY are our enemy.

        You claim to be a Christian, you claim to be someone who reveres, worships, and wishes to obey Jesus. And yet, when confronted with Jesus’ very words, you shove them aside and excuse away the obvious disdain you have for these human beings seeking help and basically whine, childishly, “But they are our enemy. We shouldn’t help them.”

        Thank you, Rick… thank you for demonstrating to everyone here EXACTLY the kind of Christian NOT to be.

        May God bless you in your travels and your work.

        September 22, 2015
      • The problem from the get-go was that when you saw I had i different concern than
        you did, you made an assumption—-that I was totally lacking in love. I fully understand Christian love. But, I cannot ignore the real world. Love vs evil. Evil kills love. Love is
        out of here. It is dangerous out there. Christians need to survive or Christianity will not survive. We cannot go “all in” with love and get ourselves killed when dealing with such an enemy. I see that some other people agree with me. They are making some really good points. You went “all in” for Ryan. Ryan was so wrong. Now you are having a hard time
        defending Ryan. You could concede some things instead of dreaming up a defense for Ryan.
        Ryan is very generous with somebody else’s country, filling it with thousands of refugees that will never accept the Christian culture. They will always be muslims in their muslim community.
        I know what….let’s put a bunch of these refugees in your neighborhood…one can date your daughter….they get married…..she goes muslim….and you get 6 muslim grandchildren.
        Now how much love?

        September 22, 2015
    • Erahjonojohnsto: Republicans are haters of islam? That is bad??? Islam is the #1 enemy of
      Christianity. You do not sound like a real Christian to me. You find too much fault with real Christians who are guided by the Bible. Unfortunately, most Christians have never read the Bible in a Bible Study and only guess what might be in the Bible. They rely on “common sense” and their own sense of what is right. A real Christian should see islam as the enemy—- because islam is the enemy. Have you read the koran? It mocks the Bible in every way.
      Do you think islam is just another branch of Christianity? They want us dead. Islam is the work of Satan. Muslims cheer for muslims who have killed Christians because they think it is good muslim work. Republicans bad— but Democrats good. Is that what you believe?
      Democrats promote abortion, are funded by abortion clinics, and never support anything Christian…..but Republicans are bad because they see islam as the enemy of Christianity.

      September 22, 2015
      • ROBERT: You are twisting what I am saying. It is the religion—ISLAM===that I object to. Not the people, themselves. The RELIGION.
        I have stated over and over….islam is the enemy of Christianity. I will feed anybody who is hungry and give a blanket to whoever is cold, even a muslim——but I will be very wary of what islam will do to any community. I will NOT send money to build a mosque. A muslim family here and there is not a problem….but when thousands live in a 10-block area and have a huge mosque and are demanding muslim concessions—–Dearborn, Michigan.—-that is an effect that I do not want to see.

        I do not appreciate you lecturing me about my style of Christianity, especially after you have taken liberties with my words. You might ask me some questions before condemning me…that would be the Christian way. I did not condemn you….I just state my case and give reasons why.

        Would it kill you to admit that maybe—just maybe—–European Christianity
        could be greatly damaged by the presence of islam? You do know that the refugees are not temporary…they will be there forever. Do you think they will just stop by for a sandwich and then go back? That is not the muslim way. They invade, stay, and conquer. European Christianity is weak. It is a bad mix===for the Christians. Put the LOVE aside for a minute and look at the reality.

        September 22, 2015
      • Ok Rick, this time my response to you is intentional unlike my mistaken reply to you earlier…I blame the phone and awkward thumbs…. 🙂 Where to begin with you, my brother in Christ….The “Pilgrims Prayer” seems like the right context, the right spirit from which to operate. “Lord Jesus Christ, son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This is the first truthful accounting I can give of myself. I am a sinner. Not in such a way as to demean myself and foster insecurity and self loathing but rather to righteously humble myself. Acknowledging the truth of my faults and limitations and recognizing my complete dependence on God if I am to overcome the imperfections of self. Humility has always been a work in progress for me. 🙂 But I try to stick with it. The humble man never hates. The humble man is compassionate and self giving. Perfect humility is the seedbed for perfect love. Real heroes are humble people…So I continue to aspire… 🙂 Further I am a devout Roman Catholic, a faithful husband to Sharon and father of 7. I am Canadian by birth but do not identify with that in any political sense. I am active in my church community, through several ministries, and would like to think I am a good neighbour. Beyond that I am what others say I am. What those in relationship with me, find in me. I try to spend time each day in contemplative relationship with our Lord. To feel his presence; feel his love; understand I am loved and take that Spirit and spread it joyfully into the experiences that are my life. Some days are better than others. As an aside both my wife, Sharon and I have been previously married. Sharon (Safa) is a former Muslim who has converted to the Roman Catholic faith. Through Sharon I have come to understand much about Islam, the Koran, the Hedith and Egyptian culture in general. Your distillation of Islam, as I understand it, is lacking. You isolate certain passages, taking them out of context and make them say what you want them to say. Yes there are references to taking the lives of infidels but first they are prefaced with a call to holiness and tolerance of others. Muslims are called to be peaceful. Violence is only to be used in self defence and only proportionate to the acts of an aggressor. History, within the context of war, speaks well of Muslim treatment of those who were it’s enemies..the holiest sites in Judaism and Christianity find their location in Islamic countries and in spite of great wars and bitter histories these sites have remained accessible to Jews and Christians. It is my experience, as this example underscores, that Muslims are very respectful of sincere expressions of Godliness. Even the expressions of sometimes bitter enemies. Today American political ambition has understandably driven many Muslims to the conclusion that your country is at constant war with them. You have made yourselves an enemy and they are called to Jihad in order to protect what is righteous in their eyes. Looking at history over the past 50 years or so, it is hard not to sympathize with that understanding. The other tragic context is poverty and the lack of education. Malicious teaching of Islam to poor and uneducated people has led too many to adopt what we would describe as a terrorist mentality. Many others remain sympathetic as American bombs keep dropping. American soldiers keep killing. America once understood that long term peace can only be achieved through reconciliation and mutual support. Once bitter German and Japanese enemies are now allies. To my mind, a perverse interpretation of Christianity, politically exploited by those who seek to profit from it, is a big part of the problem. As I read you I find your language no less hateful and distorting of our Bible then the Islamic terrorist distorts the Koran. I am repulsed by both….so what can I offer you, brother. I have prayed about it and offer you this. Put down your Bible for 40 days. For each of those 40 days go to a sanctuary, a holy place. Spend one hour each day there. Sit in silence, loving and waiting on the Lord. Be like Samuel. Every so often silently, in your mind repeat the phrase, “Here I am, Lord. Here I am.” After 40 days pick up your Bible again. I am certain you will read it differently then you ever have before. May the grace and peace of our Lord be with you. He will convert your heart, if you ask. If you are willing.

        September 23, 2015
    • So let us affirm right action and inspire a missionary spirit among the 95% of Christians who understand that their allegiance to Jesus takes priority over their national/political identity.

      Well said. Thank you, Paul.

      (Not sure about the “fame” thing, but it’s been quite a week.)

      Thank you

      September 23, 2015
  14. As always a thoughtful post. I’m sorry the conversation didn’t lead to a discussion about meanings. What Christian mercy, charity and love might look like when applied socially. There seems to me to be two legitimate, divergent camps. Those who see corrective, disciplining (when necessary) approaches as essential to the process and those who are uncomfortable with this argument as they fear it opens the door to unmerciful, uncharitable and unloving outcomes. Though I side with the former I am thankful for the latter. IMHO both points of view are Spirit led.

    September 22, 2015
  15. Christoph #

    What really worries me is the attitude shown in some comments. IF you would read the Koran you would be surprised how much OT content is in it. But folks like Rick would never do that> Once I met a Muslim in my city here in Canada. He came from Iraq at a time when the Americans KILLED many from that country. But that is beside the point. He invited me in his house and showed me his newborn baby boy. I asked about the name. That boy was called “Abraham”. In my secular job I had a Muslim co-worker. But he was a “bad” Muslim, because he drank alcohol. Or that other “bad” Muslim from Iran who declared himself an Atheist. Sit down with Muslims, perhaps have a cup of tea and just talk.Perhaps you will discover they’re people! But for something like this to happen I have to change my attitude. I cannot control them, but I can reflect an attitude as described in Phil 2.

    September 22, 2015
    • CHRISTOPH; You have NOT read the koran. All references to any OT and NT storied DO NOT MATCH the Bible. The stories are WAY off. You are the typical misinformed Christian that wants muslims to be “just like us.” According to the koran, Noah had only one son and Noah kicked him off the ark. Nothing else matches, either. Mary was adopted by Zechariah and lived at the Temple in Jerusalem. There was no Nazareth, Bethlehem, angel visit, or Joseph. She got pregnant and the father is never mentioned. One day, Mary walked out into the desert, held on to a palm tree and birthed Jesus. While holding the palm tree, Mary wished she was dead. She took Jesus into Jerusalem and the people said, “You have done a terrible thing.” Then the infant Jesus talked to the crowd. THAT’S THE KORAN JESUS STORY.

      How did you like that story? That’s how all the Bible stories are in the koran.

      Maybe you are not a misinformed Christian. Maybe just misinformed.
      Christopher….you got caught. You accused me of not reading the koran. But I did. You pretended that you read it .–but you did not. So, I cannot believe anything you wrote.
      The koran is a waste of time….no information. Islam is not based on the koran===it is based on hadith….commentaries.

      September 22, 2015
  16. Dale #

    Both articles are off base. WAY off base! Two major point of contention, especially in this day and age where persecution of Christians is the norm, it is horrifically evil to name Christians specifically. The world doesn’t need any more fodder for bigotry. Your view of the refugees, while IMO is very misguided, is your view, however to call out Christians when the vast majority of people have the same opinion is just wrong. Next, we should pray for everyone! even the most depraved sinner. If you heard of someone who was an institutionalized sex offender, I would suggest it was your responsibility to pray for them, help them if possible, however how would you feel if they moved next door to your family? How about letting them move in your house and come and go as they please? I seriously doubt it. Even if you were led to let this person cohabitate with your wife and children, who would you be to tell someone else they are wrong for not wanting it? We as a nation CANNOT absorb more Muslims, Pagans and third world refugees. That does not mean we should not try and help the people but the answer to the worlds crisis IS NOT to bring the whole world here, that is counter productive. I live in Harrisonburg, VA probably the best example of the destruction the Mennonite Church has inflicted by selectively fulfilling the Gospel. Over the course of Barely ONE generation, maybe 25 years the immigrant population exploded. First with Mexican immigrants, then eastern Europeans than middle eastern people who are crippling our county. Please do not mistake my comments as racist, they are not, they are simply reality. The health department, social services and schools cannot bear the load of all these people. County children are suffering badly for the adjustments having to be made for ESL children, social services is broke by May, the police force over run, gangs, conflicts and hostilities from poor residents who used to depend on these services. The vast majority of these populations were sponsored by the Mennonite church’s persecuted Christian and refugee programs. They sponsor these people, bring them here then walk away. Generally speaking they don’t even associate with them much less financially and socially care for them. Again please don’t misconstrue my comments as racism or hatred, it’s just the reality of the situation. As a county we are full, we are struggling, morally and economically, we are struggling to raise our children in a Christian environment!! The answer to the worlds problems is not nor ever has been to bring everyone here! Especially people who’s doctrine is to persecute Christians!

    September 22, 2015
  17. Thank you again, Ryan for thought provoking posts. I can only imagine your bewilderment at the extent and voracity of the response. As always your arguments are well explained and scripturally backed. You are challenging me to rethink certain advocacies and exhorting me to commit more deeply and persistently to pacifist efforts…how I read you at any rate…and surely even if I don’t agree with all your encouragements your intentions are, “Christlike”…maybe a better word than, “Christian” which can seem to mean just about anything a person wants it to. Surely we must all agree that the Kingdom is as you describe it even if not here on earth. I still think, in principal there can be a lethal response that is righteous, particularly when it comes to the defence of the vulnerable and the innocent. I think you have convinced me though, that should another come to take my life it would be better for me to surrender myself rather then to respond with violence…may that cup pass…I feel a real sense of shame when it comes to Syria, Central Africa, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan. The world burns. Millions of innocents massacred and I debate. What does our Lord think of it all?

    September 23, 2015
  18. Chad, you have misunderstood me. I fully agree that Jesus and the Father are one, that in fact was my contention in the post you critique. What I was saying is that this oneness doesn’t always line up with a pacifist, all forgiving, all inclusive, deity. Some will be excluded. Some will be unforgiven. God can, has and will use lethal force. I am not even remotely trying to suggest and have previously disclaimed that the excluded are Muslim, far from it. I am simply arguing that I have grave concerns over Ryan’s thesis here. Ironically, I want it to be so and badly, but the same Lord who gives us the, “Good Samaritan” also tells us not to give what is holy to dogs. Discernment and exclusion seem appropriate, in right circumstances,to my mind. My reference to “goats” was not to pre-judge but rather to say that if we are to help everyone, forgive everything, wouldn’t Jesus do the same? Why are there “goats” at all? The caveat seems to be and you allude to it, nothing we expect to aid in the common good can be done apart from a proclamation of the Gospels. This is a better expression of what move a Christian can’t make. He can’t do anything apart from bringing the, “Good News”.

    September 24, 2015
    • You have grave concerns about my “thesis?” Out of curiosity, what would that thesis be? Because many, many people seem to be misunderstanding it in these two posts….

      (I hope your version of my thesis is not that I believe in a “pacifist, all forgiving, all inclusive deity” because I did not say that and have never said that. Even the conviction that pacifism is part of our response does not require the further belief that God is a pacifist. It simply reflects that judgment and vengeance belong to God alone.)

      September 24, 2015
      • I want to first affirm firstly that I am no longer speaking about Muslims and Christians. Rather what we understand Jesus to be teaching/instructing. I wholly disagree with your central argument that irrespective of a “neighbours” intention whether it be our murder, even to the point of the entire destruction of our way of life we are compelled to aid this “neighbour”. Your understanding here implies the destruction of the gospels. A potential genocide. To my ear pearls before swine giving what is holy to dogs. I have grave concerns to say the least

        September 24, 2015
      • My central argument, as I’ve tried to make as plain as possible on several occasions now, had to do with the nature of Christian discourse about those we consider (rightly or wrongly) to be our “enemies.”

        September 25, 2015
  19. Ah Ryan, you always become the artful dodger with me when the going gets tough. I think it accurate to say two things. One, your central thesis is about who is our neighbour. Two, you claim that even our enemy qualifies as neighbour. So far so good. Scripturally sound, word of God true. Your error is extrapolating from that the understanding that we must therefore accommodate all our enemies needs. This is falsehood. If our enemy opposes the word of God, if our enemy would destroy the word and people of God, we are to segregate ourselves from him. Pray for him yes. Love him in the sense that we don’t take punitive action against him, yes. As you say correctly, God will repay. Love him in the sense that we would look for every opportunity to convert him, yes. Love God and his people enough to find the courage to take all necessary military actions AND ONLY THOSE NECESSARY MILITARY ACTIONS, against him should he attack us, yes. This is proper understanding. As for Christians who would respond with an “eye for an eye” mentality or worse, speak of Gods love, to them. Speak of Gods mercy to them. Speak of his forgiveness. Challenge them to be as loving, as merciful, as forgiving. To be angry is human. To seek revenge is human. Your brothers in Christ need to be encouraged not condemned.

    September 25, 2015
    • It’s not dodging, it’s simply correcting your misinterpretation of my “central argumement.”

      Please show me precisely where I said that “we must therefore accommodate all our enemies needs.”

      September 25, 2015
      • Fair enough, “all of their needs” is assumption on my part based on your statements regarding a responsibility to assist certain peoples even if leads to the demise of western culture, the implementation of Sharia law and the death of all we hold dear. I would assume that would also include the “death” of Christian expression. If this is an accurate understanding of your words, again I disagree strongly. Not only do we have a right to, build walls and defend ourselves and our way of life, I believe we have a moral obligation to do so.

        September 26, 2015
      • Here’s the thing – that paragraph from the original post that I think you’re referring to was pure hyperbole, and I assumed (mistakenly, it turns out) that people would see that. It was meant to say something like, even if, in the most ludicrous scenario imaginable, all of the most hysterical fears that I’ve heard out there happen to come true, we still have a duty, as Christians, to think, speak, and respond in better ways as followers of the Crucified One.

        It seems to me almost literally insane to imagine that we are on the verge of Sharia law and the “demise of western culture” because we’re considering welcoming refugees (who may or may not even be Muslims) who will be screened and vetted by embassies and government agencies long before they ever set foot on Canadian soil. The fact that Christians are, at times, the ones making and spreading these hasty and illegitimate connections between “refugees” and “terrorists” was one of the reasons I wrote the post in the first place.

        September 26, 2015
  20. For the record I agree that the centrality of these two posts is the rant against certain Christians. I just think it better to discuss the central issues that provoke your criticism.

    September 25, 2015
  21. Hyperbole to you. What about the genocide of Christian Armenians at hands of Muslim Turks?Hyperbole? The thousands murdered in Nigeria by Boco Haram? Hyperbole? The vicious attacks on Christians and other non Muslim ethnic groups that has precipitated this mass migration in Syria? Hyperbole? The murder of Christians in over 50 countries this past year, according to the US state department, 42 of them Muslim? Hyperbole? Pope Francis’ impassioned speech at the UN. two days ago challenging world leaders to put an end to Christian persecution? Hyperbole? 21 Christian Copts, hooded, hands tied behind their backs, then brutally beheaded for their faith? Hyperbole? …what you think is “ludicrously impossible” simply isn’t.

    September 27, 2015
    • Be careful, Paul. Pay attention to what I actually said. I said that linking the idea of Canada welcoming screened and vetted refugees (many of which are not even Muslims) to the takeover of Western society was ludicrous. That’s all that I said. I was talking about the connections people are sometimes making between welcoming refugees and the end of the world as we know it, not the awful, condemnable realities you describe here.

      September 27, 2015
  22. A lot has been said. A cacophony of voices doesn’t always make for good listening and accurate understanding. That being said I sincerely think you need to be as careful with regard to your meanings here, as I should. To me the ground has shifted within your argument. What started out addressing all Christians now seems to be focussed on Canadians and Canadian Christians. A very different context indeed. Could have saved a lot of Ill will had you told our American brethren that you weren’t addressing them. There experiences have been very different then ours and the idea of Muslim insurrection is neither hyperbole or insane to their experience…oh but wait, you were talking to them originally. Recent census information tells us that the Muslim population in Canada is at about .5 percent. Worldwide Muslims make up 25% of the population. Where Muslims are in the majority democracy is either very fragile and under serious threat, think Egypt, or simply non existent. Military and or religious dictatorship is the norm. Religious persecution is epidemic, civil wars rage in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan , Libya and are spreading like wild fire into Nigeria and Kenya. Your Christian brothers and sisters are being murdered by the thousands. Preface your argument with these stark realities and then speak to me of what Jesus would have us do. What we as Christians, can and cannot do. As for your new found greater emphasis on vetting, good luck with that. According to press reports 90% of migrants screened to date have no documentation. Cell phones, atm cards and an ability to have financed significant travel, yes. Documents, no. Bring every Christian we can find and verify over here asap. Assist the Kurds in every way possible( another million person genocide we have yet to mention). As for the rest create safe zones within the middle east to place them and engage in military action in support of Assad forces. Isis must be defeated. In return Assad is deposed and the Kurds given a nation of their own under self and UN protection.

    September 27, 2015
    • Well, if you feel like the ground has shifted it’s only because I’m trying to respond adequately to the many ways in which my words in the original post have been interpreted. The response to these two posts has been a moving target, to put it mildly. I thought I clearly signalled in the initial post that I was addressing Christians and Christian discourse, but people assumed I was talking about nations. Now, when I refer to national policies about refugees (which are sort of the givens that all churches must work within the parameters of), I get criticism for changing my focus to governments. Or for not telling Americans that I wasn’t specifically addressing this or that particular aspect of their political context. Or for mentioning vetting processes one too many times. Or for not addressing civil wars in Africa. Or for not prefacing my remarks about Jesus’ command to love enemies with enough (or the right?) political commentary…

      At the end of it all, I come back to the simplicity of Jesus’ command and to our duty to be different when it comes to how we relate to enemies (rightly or wrongly conceived). There has to be something different in how those of us who name Jesus as Lord and Teacher respond to enemies. I am not saying that “love” of enemies looks the same in any and every context, nor am I saying that it requires a blind welcome to any and all. I have never said this. But I am equally convinced that Christian dialogue on this issue very often fails to exhibit the character and teaching of the one we claim to follow. And that we need to do better.

      September 27, 2015
  23. Well, maybe after all the, “hubbub” this last paragraph is a good place to finish. A good hermeneutic allows for right historical context. Firstly I think the discussions, here and elsewhere, need to find some agreed upon understanding of this context, in order to move forward constructively. Secondly as you say, Christian conversations and the responses they provoke need to be better. What does love look like in context? I do not know? I have no sense of prophesy here. I do believe this though. The right expression of love honours God, self and neighbour. It does not prefer one at the expense of another. God’s gift of love is so grand that when it is properly understood and mediated it is shared equally. Our share is no less than God’s. How great is our God. :)….I do believe in one absolute, non negotiable precept of this love. Whatever we do we are compelled to call all to repentance and belief. There is only the illusion of love otherwise.

    September 27, 2015
  24. San #

    We, as fallible humans, hear what we want to hear and interpret things from only our perspective – it takes a lot of work to stop that. This is how I try to partly explain the misinterpretations.
    I actually thought what you had to say was valuable & also well written and constructed. It was a great reminder for me. Thank you!
    Anyway, just wanted to encourage you say…
    Keep up the good work. 🙂

    November 17, 2015
  25. Jennifer #

    Hello, I found your blog because a woman in my church posted it on facebook, our pastor read it and hit “like”, and so did many other people in my church. Sorry about all the anger, and no I don’t think you should tolerate comments from internet trolls who claim the name of Jesus and hate those Jesus died for in the same breath. Further, I think you made yourself perfectly clear the first time. Many of those who misunderstood may have WANTED to misunderstand.

    November 17, 2015
  26. The Rev. Christine Plantz #

    Thank you for your post. Thisis important for all Christians to read

    November 18, 2015
  27. Beth #

    It’s not hard to find the angry corner of the internet. Thank you for your post.

    November 18, 2015
  28. Cheryl #

    My question for you is do you live in Paris? Do you live anywhere in Syria or Iraq where ISIS has beheaded people, raped women and children and sold them as sex slaves? Has anyone in your family been personally affected by the horrors going on at the hands of this evil organization? If you’re going to write an article to Christians about standing in the face of fear I would like to know if you have personally had an experience with terrorism. We as Christians are not to sit aside and watch people die and offer no assistance. American Christians are some of the most charitable in the world. If we are angry about the injustice in this world then we are called to help those who are in trouble. The story of the good Samaritan comes to mind. He helped a man who was beaten and robbed. As Christians we need to help those who are helpless. When you read what Islam believes and what their purpose of their beliefs are we must be concerned for our safety and that of our families. Yes, we are angry, but we need to act reasonably once the anger calms. Don’t expect Christians to be perfect, we are not. But we also can love and help without carelessly endangering ourselves or our neighbors.

    November 18, 2015
    • Wow. The threads of comments here absolutely astound me. First of all, thank you Ryan for your clear-sighted call to Christ-like discourse. Many seemed to miss that point, but I got it. What we SAY and POST (especially all over FB) matters!! I, too, am sickened by the large numbers of Christians posting hateful, violent things against muslims, against refugees, against our government, against Starbucks . . . . basically anything that upsets their comfortable status quo and strikes a note of fear. We have forgotten Eph 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Or as The Message puts it, “Each word a gift.” I am so convicted by those words on a regular basis. We are VERY disillusioned about the idea that “American is a Christian country.” As I see it that notion went out the window a very long time ago. I even sometimes wonder if the church in America is sill even very “Christian.” And that is simply because of what I see in the internet from people I know who call themselves believers and attend solid Bible-believing churches and yet their speech is full of hate and fear and resistance (or even outright hostility) to actually obeying the words of Jesus. I read the comments from the ex-Christians or non-Christians on this thread that said, “That’s why I left the church” and tho it breaks my heart, I totally get that sentiment. Oh Church, what a horrible indictment that is on us!!!

      That said, since most people commenting on this post seem more focused on the DOING aspect of things…..let me continue.

      Secondly, I posted specifically in response to Cheryl because: YES, actually, I do live in (well, near) Paris. And while I do not have relatives being tortured or raped or killed by ISIS, we do have close colleagues working on the front lines of the refugee world on Lesvos Island (Greece) and in Cologne, Germany. Also, on Thursday evening of last week my husband as with a colleague in Paris sharing the gospel with people and praying for people. They were in cafés and in the streets in an area that was about 2 blocks from where one of the major shootings would take place just 24 hours later. I do not note that to boast in any way, but simply because it seems that for some reading along, credentials are important.

      Our organization does not typically do “humanitarian” work as a general rule. We are about multiplying disciples and multiplying churches. However, there was no way that we could claim to be Christ-followers and ignore (corporately) this humanitarian crisis. That is why some of our colleagues have left their homes (temporarily? maybe permanently?) to go work with the boatloads of refugees that arrive daily. They are helping to meet their physical needs but also sharing the gospel of Christ with them. Others of us are considering how we can help short-term.

      I will simply point out that those of you in N. America still have (in large part) the luxury of debate. In MOST places in the US the arrival of refugees in your actual town or neighbourhood remains theoretical. You are not likely for very practical reasons (the Atlantic Ocean being the biggest) to have boatloads of refugees washing up on your shores. And those who do make it to the US are likely to be the better off refugees, the ones who could somehow afford to get further away. We who live in Europe are way beyond the theoretical. The refugees, the ones who have lost everything and have nothing and are willing to risk death in the journey because it is unbelievably their best option at this point, are here and arriving daily by the thousands. European politicians may be debating but it’s not about LETTING them in, it’s about, “They’re here, what on earth are we going to do with them?” While my town/area is not yet directly affected, this whole thing is close enough that I’ve had to consider what am I going to do about it. How am I going to respond to these people who are flooding the continent and the country? How literally am I willing to take the words of Jesus? I have colleagues who have prepared their guest room to take in a refugee family, should that crisis come directly to our area (which, as yet, it has not). I have other colleagues who daily go to the train station in their (refugee-overrun) city, pick up a handful of refugees, bring them to their home, offer them a hot shower and a hot meal, sometimes a night of sleeping in a warm bed. Then the next day they take them back and pick up more refugees to do the same. Might there be some extremists or terrorists in those groups? Perhaps. Might they be entertaining angels unawares? Perhaps. Most certainly, as much as they have done it to the least of these, they have done it for Christ himself.

      I would have to differ with the statement that “American Christians are some of the most charitable in the world.” I have not generally found that to be true. Perhaps it is true in sheer numbers of dollars given to charitable causes — I don’t know about that, and wouldn’t be astonished if that were true. But I feel that is largely because 1) we are a big nation with a relatively high percentage of “Christians” as well as the majority of the world’s wealth, so I would expect the giving numbers to be higher but also 2) it is a lot easier to assuage our guilt by giving some money rather than choosing to get personally involved with needy people. (Please don’t get all offended if you are an American Christian who IS involved . . . . I’m speaking about the vast majority, not the active few.) But when it comes down to personal active charity — opening your homes, taking people in, reaching out to the neighbourhood in a meaningful way, etc . . . . I disagree. I find Europeans with their small homes and limited resources much more hospitable and I confirm the post somewhere else in this weaving thread of someone who says that Middle Eastern people cannot be surpassed when it comes to charity and hospitality toward their neighbour. They readily and frequently invite complete strangers in for tea and conversation.

      Finally, Cheryl brings up the story of the Good Samaritan which I feel is so fitting. We in our modern era do not GET the full emotional impact of this story. For a devout Jew, the Samaritans were the extremists. And vice versa. They were perhaps the radical muslims to our modern-day Christians. When Jesus told this story to tell who our neighbour is, he wasn’t talking about the nice guy next door who invites you to a BBQ. He wasn’t even talking about the dirty smelly homeless guy down on the corner. He told those people listening to the story that their neighbours were the people they hated and feared the most (for religious reasons mainly). And then proceeded to tell a story about how they should treat them. The previous passers-by who didn’t help the victim probably had numerous reasons for not helping–and yes, I’m conjecturing a bit here as Scripture doesn’t tell us outright. My guess is there were two reasons they didn’t stop to help their own countryman: they didn’t want to be inconvenienced (did you notice that it took time for the Good Samaritan to help the beaten man, it made his trip slower and longer, it drained his pocket, it was messy, etc) and also they were concerned about their own safety (the reason the first person got beat up anyway was that this was a very dangerous stretch of road where thieves and brigands hung out on a regular basis). Had they stopped to help they may themselves have fallen prey to bad folks, or maybe it was a trap to begin with!! Hmmm, sounds vaguely familiar as an argument for not helping — at least if you’ve spent any time on FB in the past weeks.

      May we continue to search our hearts, each one of us, to know just HOW we need to go about obeying the words of Jesus, but I pray that the Christ-followers in this world will indeed rise up and be those who live counter-culturally, caring more about Jesus’ words than our own personal security and convenience. May we dare to be the Good Samaritan to those who come our way, accepting the risk and the inconvenience that it may bring. May we wrestle deep in our souls with what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this broken world, what it means to be the only Jesus that some people may ever see. I pray that we will, by our WORDS and our ACTIONS, leave each of them wanting more of Him.

      November 20, 2015
      • Hawkinsinfrance: This was humbling and inspiring. Thank you for your words.

        November 20, 2015
  29. hillman #

    For all of the above post which claim that Jesus would not kill or fight the enemy, you need to read the book of Revelations, which is found in the New Testament in the Holy Bible.

    November 18, 2015
  30. Hi, Ryan. This has all been very interesting. Have you considered the counsel of John recorded in 2nd John, 7-11, Philippians 3:2, Matthew 7:15, 1 Corinthians 15:33, .Proverbs 22:24-25, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Romans 12:13, 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2, Proverbs 2:12, 2 Timothy 2:15-16. It seems to me that the Bible makes clear that there are people in this world with whom we should have no association: If they reject Christ and do not have a desire to listen to the Gospel, we have no responsibility toward them (Matthew 7:15). According to Matthew 13:37-38, there are people in this world who are the “sons of the evil one.” May God grant us soft-hearted Christians the wisdom to discern those to whom God intends us to help and those He would have us avoid, whom He has appointed to judgment.

    November 18, 2015
  31. Todd #

    Wow, reading through these comments (and those from Ryan’s original post, I’m more convinced than ever that disavowing Christianity at the age of seventeen was the smartest, most self-affirming, BEST move I’ve made in my life. I realize there are good Christians out there, but I’ve met WAY more kind, loving, good-hearted people outside of church than I ever met in one.

    November 18, 2015
  32. Stephanie #

    Both articles are very well written and have sound points. As Christians, it’s not our responsibility to judge, condemn or speak out against fellow man. Kindness matters. Period.

    November 18, 2015
  33. Jamie #

    I respect your message. I applaud you for posting and defending it.

    November 18, 2015
  34. Bob Ford #

    I am not a Christian, although I grew up a Christan and stll observe and abide by a lot of what I was taught in church.
    I learned of your post from a family member who is in the ministry.

    Based on my reading and understanding of the gospels, what you wrote about the love and courage Christians should display toward the less fortunate was consistent with those teachings.
    And your rhetoric, your choice of words, were clear in their meaning. I found no ambiguity in what you said or how you said it.

    Keep writing. Don’t let angry fundamentalists discourage you.
    I do not understnad why fundamentalism (Christian, Jewish, Muslim) is so on the rise, or so filled with hate, but it is.

    Two things I tell people about the refugees:

    If these people were ISIS sympathizers (Salafists, a form of Sunni extremists) the creation of this new caliphate would be a glorious thing. They would want to be there as part of it, not trying to get a continent away from it.
    These refugees have been in a refugee condition for weeks or months. It wouldn’t serve the purposes of ISIS to have an operative stuck in such a condition. And no need, since they can get someone across the Turkish border with instructons to make a beeline for the nearest airport.

    Good luck and God bless

    November 18, 2015
  35. Abby #

    I am going to play devil’s advocate here, because I actually do believe it is the humanitarian thing to do to take in people running from lives of terror and death (and, no, I’m not Christian or Muslim). But here’s the devil’s advocate part, and forgive me if someone has brought this up already. To better understand what’s going on in the world I have started to read the Quran. And I have to say there is a lot of peace and love to followers but painful punishment, death, fire and worse to the infidels, or anyone who doesn’t believe. Terrorists are taking this to heart and think they are following the words of Muhammad and Allah. But if all Christians should be following the Bible and taking those words to heart, then wouldn’t you expect all Muslims to follow the Quran and take it to heart? In which case there would be real problems, since I’ve read so much about non-radical Muslims choosing what is right for them in the Quran and not subscribing to the violence in it. So…if all Christians followed the word of the Bible and all Muslims followed the word of the Quran we could have a lot more issues on our hands, no? Devil’s advocate here – that’s all. 🙂 Tell me if I’m missing something here. 😉

    November 18, 2015
  36. Julian #

    Honestly your article is a breath of fresh air. You don’t need to worry about the comments you see. It’s a simple rule of life that the people who are most visible are those with the strongest reaction. For every fool you see in the comments strutting about with vitriol, self serving interpretation and crys of “not all Christians”. There are dozens of others who appreciate a well written and thought provoking article

    November 18, 2015
  37. Noel #

    I have to mostly agree with what you wrote in this and the previous article, but I just have to think maybe it’s more complicated than this. On an individual standpoint or from the standpoint of the church only, I have to mostly agree with you. But as Christians we are also part of our nations, and our nation may need to respond differently than we would as individuals, nor is it bad to support that. Hateful speech isn’t our move, but it’s OK to have an emotional response to the deep evil we see in Isis (to its own people, Christians, and beyond). And there is certainly a distinction between most innocent refugees and the terrorists that will undoubtedly accompany them, which we should remember in our speech, but that doesn’t mean the answer is simple by any stretch. Isis seems to me a lot like something we’ve seen before. If we don’t want to at least recognize threats and be ready to defend our nation–I just think of WW2 and shutter. Eventually we got involved then, and if we hadn’t we might all be under the terror of Naziism even now. Even our generation acknowledges the Nazi regime as truly evil, and our fight against them entirely noble. Perhaps even then it would have been right to refrain from hateful speech or hate in general (after all they were brainwashed and often forced into the fight), but hindsight is 20-20. Who knows if one day our grandchildren will look back, grateful that we fought the greatest world threat in our time, or if they will wish we had? We should never hate people, but sometimes we should hate systems (like Naziism and Isis), and we can act wisely as a nation while still loving as Christians. We have to stop saying Islam is a religion of peace–Even if it were in its true form, it isn’t in its current form. And we have to acknowledge the problem that Isis that wants to rule the world in terror no less than the Nazis did. That doesn’t solve the refugee crisis, or the problems of hate or ignorance, but it just seems that we’ve started thinking Christian love means political pacifism. I’m just glad our country’s “greatest generation” didn’t think so. I know that I’ve kind of veered from the main points in the post, but I just think we need a better balance of love and wisdom.

    November 18, 2015
  38. Tara Soughers #

    Thank you for your posts. They do, indeed, challenge Christians to listen carefully to what Jesus had to say and to pattern their lives after his pattern of love and openness of all. It is not easy to follow Christ, and those who think it is, haven’t really grappled with the implications of Christian discipleship. Following Christ is not for the fainthearted. It may even lead us to the same place it led Jesus- to the cross. However, for those who have found a form of Christian that is comforting to their own point of view, such a message is very dangerous. I am not surprised by the reaction you got. When people’s identity is challenged, they tend to react violently, and the very violence of the response is a key that the reaction is not about correct biblical interpretation. Instead, it is about feeling that something that is precious is being taken away- our own sense of ourselves as good Christians. But Jesus reminds us to travel lightly- to take no extra baggage- for we will be given everything that we need. It won’t be all that we want, but it will be all that is necessary. For many people, that would sound like a great blessing, indeed, but for Americans who are used to getting all they want, simply having all they need is seen as a hardship. Most of all, Jesus reminds us that our ultimate safety and security cannot be assured by human means. Those will always fail, and will disappoint us in the end. Our true security is in God, and a sense of that security allows us to not let fear rule our hearts.

    November 18, 2015
  39. Rock on. You are awesome.

    November 19, 2015
  40. Thank you for representing Jesus well.

    November 19, 2015
  41. I’m probably the only muslim to have read all of this and yes even the comments. But I would like to say thank you. Because as a Muslim I’ve had to question many of the Christians I know. So over taken by hate and anger they say the most unchristian like things.

    That’s the problem with radicalized muslims though. They allow hate and anger to over take them. They just wave it under a different banner. The problem not necessarily being our religions but rather our unwillingness to fully submit ourselves to what God wants of us. Man is such a prideful being.

    But thank you for your words and your willingness to accept others in kindness

    November 19, 2015
  42. I’ve read both of your posts/articles and I can’t judge the book by it’s cover, but you seem to have some knowledge as to what a true “Chistian” should be; follower of Christ.
    I am not here to deffend or take sides.
    But I can honestly say that at times my flesh is weak and so, I become frightened, as the human being I am, for the safety of my family.
    But than I go back to the truth, and it sets me free and so …¿what can mere man do to me?
    I can’t make “that move” and perhaps you are correct and your opinion is valid, maybe as valid as the feelings of those “Christians” you refer to. Valid perhaps because they are caught in a religious war fare, maybe because their minds are still blinded, they still have a veil over their face. Things are not always what they seem to be and people are not always what they claim to be, say they are, but rather what they do; how they act. Actions speak louder than words!
    I don’t judge them or your opinion.
    I just want you and anyone else that may read this comment to know or remind any true follower or any FAN, What Matthew 7:21 says: “Not everyone that calls out to me, ‘Lord! ‘Lord! Will enter the kingdom of heaven…..” you can continue reading if it’s of interest for you.
    I usually don’t comment on posts or blogs. But in times like these we are called to speak life…**Matthew 5:14****

    November 19, 2015
  43. Kate #

    As a Christian, I don’t deny that “loving my neighbor” and “my enemy” is paramount. But I refuse to agree with any decision to let in more refugees when there are vets and children sleeping on the street.

    November 19, 2015
    • Christoph #

      Okay I have BIG difficulties when we talk about “love our enemies”. I’m right now in Serbia. This morning I met MANY of these “enemies”. But I see them as people loved by JESUS and I should and do love them too. Some gave me even a hug. Folks do not just TALK, but do. I saw young kids parents and grandparents.

      November 20, 2015
  44. I find it interesting when a writer must write another article to clarify what he previously wrote. It’s an interesting style and protects the writer from any error on his part because just as our President has said so many times…”Oh no, that’s not what I meant, this is what I meant to say.” So you clarified “?” your original piece for morons like me. It’s well appreciated. I believe you miss-titled the first article, it should have been “My Way or the Highway”

    For some reason you believe you are enlightened as to what God would do. Looking at the Old Testament, he reigned fierce judgement on those who are now Islamist’s. He used His angels and He used the Hebrews. In the New Testament God becomes a human. Is he still the God of the Old Testament as well? The Apostles had just about every personality there was. Would they have all subscribed to your point of view or admonishment of what Christians can or can’t say or believe?

    It must be comforting to have it all figured out and speak for God. I think I will just continue with my own personal relationship with God.

    November 19, 2015
  45. Letting them in is only a helping a small amount and possibly adding to the problem. Yes Christians should be careful and wise with their words and temperament and as brothers and sisters we should remind each other of that. However, some of us don’t see it as being as loving as we could be …this very short video explains it better than I ever could

    November 19, 2015
  46. Dave #

    How about “it’s acceptable to exercise responsible caution when opening your doors to a stranger, foreign or domestic”.

    Am I living in fear or being unwelcoming if I lock my doors at night? No, I’m being responsible and protecting my family as I am called to do as the leader of my house.

    I’m sure some are saying no refugees at all, the vast majority of us are saying slow the roll and make sure we do this the right way with the right precautions.

    November 19, 2015
  47. Tania #

    I just had to respond. I’ve been filling my fb page for days with reasons for Christians to choose love over fear. Mostly there is eerie radio silence. But I keep speaking. My posts are nearly identical to the two you wrote, as God has pressed it upon my heart through scripture. It’s depressing to see little Christian support. Our witness is tarnished to the world, who must see us as both fearful and unloving: what does that say about our God? You keep speaking truth. Each one of us gets the chance to stand at the throne and try to explain why we did or didn’t think Jesus REALLY meant what He said in the Sermon on the Mount. Christians in my home state are terrified of the young Syrian family that were just placed after two years of vetting and four years in a camp. Couple with a four year old. 😦 I am sad. I’ve seen more people label their fear “wisdom” than I can count. At least be honest, say you’re scared, and let the Lord encourage you with stories from Acts!

    November 19, 2015
  48. Ryan – You write very well, and with great clarity of thought, even when you have to labor to negate or affirm what you were not, or were trying to convey. Bless you.

    I’m glad I re-read parts of the first post, and then this follow-up post. I initially had one or two small points of question, but they were very minor and you cleared them up nicely with the follow-up post. I hear you!

    Something that I find interesting, is the use of Matthew 10:16 (as you pointed out) as a sort-of, “but what about this circumstance, or this scenario” proof-text. If one goes to the parallel Gospel narrative, found in Luke 10:3 (c.f. Luke 10:1-16 for some further context), and then reads further on through the rest of Luke 10, then one will discover the parable about “The Good Samaritan.” The teaching found in this parable (and echoed throughout the entire biblical witness) is what I believe to be the crux of your message.

    As you know, in that little story, Jesus is dismantling other notions of what the fulfillment of he second greatest commandment is, to love your neighbor as you love yourself (c.f. Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:34-40), as well as demonstrating what keeping that commandment looks like. Jesus is also countering some of he popular teachings of the time that sought to mitigate, or limit the true intent of the teachings found in the Torah, by defining ‘who’ one’s neighbor, or enemy was, and what was one’s obligation to them.

    As I’m sure you have read, the person who fulfilled the true intent of that commandment, was not the priest, nor the Levite, but the unthinkable Samaritan. That theme is found throughout the scriptures, not least in the Gospel accounts. A similar theme can be seen in Matthew 21:38-32, in the parable of the two sons. The son that did his father’s will, was the one that actually showed-up and helped his father in the vineyard, even though he initially refused, and not the son who said “I will, sir!” yet did not show-up and help with the labor.

    The “Good Samaritan” parable is a very close parallel to the refugee situation (and many others), because in order to come to that man’s aid, the Samaritan would have put himself in danger from the same bandits that robbed, beat, and left the man for dead, not to mention any other marauding bandits in the area. And yet the priest and the Levite went out of their way NOT to pass near the man lying near death in the road.

    Perhaps we could retell that parable anew, using, let’s say, a Baptist elder, a Catholic priest, and a Syrian refugee? (not intentionally picking on anyone particular here). Just like in Matthew 25:31-46, the criteria at the judgment, is the doing of good works. Not that the “righteous ones” did those good works (i.e. showing mercy and compassion, like in the Samaritan parable) because they were trying to gain something, but because that is the fruit of “righteousness.” Take note that in the passage the righteous ones ask the same question as the “accursed ones” – “When did we see you hungry, and feed you…” (vv. 37;44). This reveals that they were not limiting who was worthy of mercy and grace, and compassion, and hospitality, by asking that very question. On the other hand, the “accursed ones” asked that same question, which would seem to reveal that they would have only gave Jesus something to eat, etc., if they would have known it was him.

    Thank you for that reminder. Shalom.

    November 19, 2015
  49. Jerry #

    Ryan, Jesus has truly given us a difficult path to follow and as Christians we are meant to follow Him on our way back home to the Father. Along that journey home I should be helping my neighbor in also making that journey, showing them the way. Our mission is to love, just as Jesus loved, and if there is any question the extent of His love, spend some time reflecting on the image on a crucifix. The God of the universe accepted death in an effort to show us the extent of His love and as humans put Him to death, he forgave them. He tells us to love our enemies. He in fact saw nobody as His enemy. All are His creation and He loves and cares for each one. As Christians He asks us to do the same, a pretty daunting task. That is how he led His life and the raised Him up. He lives. He sent us His Spirit so that we can have the grace to follow Him and He promises that if we do follow Him, we shall also live. This is our faith. Our job is to carry out His mission of love. He will come to judge and all of us will need to seek His mercy and forgiveness.

    Your articles gave me reason to think and reflect on my calling to be a follower of Jesus. Thank you.

    November 20, 2015
  50. Joe Wilson #

    It seems so easy to pick apart an intelligent, uncomfortable statement like these (two) and congratulate yourself that you know better than the one who makes you squirm uncomfortably under your mask(s). The pharisees did it all the time! They lost of course, but no one said they were gone. I appreciate that the argument was made with clarity and discipline — I’ve tried to say the same things many days during this mess we’ve helped make but my point seems to drown in my emotioning. Thanks. Joe

    November 20, 2015
  51. So in reference to proper rhetoric, how do you reconcile this with some very colorful and offensive name calling that the apostles used in their letters? Paul, Peter, James and John called believers and enemies out with such references as, ‘dogs,’ ‘pigs,’ ‘wicked,’ ‘adulterous,’ and even ‘whore.’ Believers and enemies of the cross ALIKE were spoken of with this kind of rhetoric to awaken slothfulness or caution. My question is where do we stop playing this card and where do we accept that it’s okay for some to express their God-given, Spirit-led conclusion on matters? I get that you don’t think we should engage in ANY offensive speak, but that’s just not biblical.

    November 20, 2015
  52. Cindi lincoln #

    It is not fear nor disobedience to Jesus that causes us to foresee Sharia Law coming with Muslim refugees. It is real live observation of what they are doing in over 51 countries today, including England and the U.S. Ask the residents of Dearborn, MI, where it’s already passed. I do not believe Jesus would agree with you. Love them and pray for them, yes, Jesus does command. But Jesus also undeniably wants us to have freedom of religion and freedom of choice which Sharia Law would remove. Jesus also tells us explicitly NOT to support those who come with another gospel. Why would we fight for freedom, die for freedom, and sacrifice our sons for freedom, only to then give it away? This is not hatred Speech. This is reasoned speech informed by current events all over the world. Assuming that they do not come with a Muslim agenda; Assuming that they seek only sanctuary to live peaceably; And assuming they come ready, willing and able to allow us to maintain our freedoms would be contrary to what we see in reality. Sharia law is being actively pushed for in America and England TODAY, not just in 51 far away countries. I don’t believe Jesus wants to aid or abet ANY furtherance of Islam’s hatred, oppression, violence and quest for exclusive world domination.

    November 20, 2015
  53. Valerie Griner #

    Thank-you for both posts. As a Biblical follower of Jesus Christ, I totally agree with everything you said in both articles. May God bless you for standing up for the TRUTH! Remember this: “Truth is a lonely warrior.” You will earn your crown in Heaven for being a warrior for Jesus Christ.

    November 20, 2015
  54. Frank van den Eijkhof #

    The bible is filled with examples how Gods way is not the worlds way, and when you (and I, and every christian) attempts to walk on Gods way, you get resistance. Accept it as a sign that you *walk* Gods way, no matter how incomplete (for we all are imperfect, as descendants of Adam), and move on on that way. Thanks for two good reads.

    November 21, 2015
  55. Dale #

    I can see why Jesus spoke in Parables.

    November 21, 2015
  56. Nikki #

    Just a small show of solidarity: I was raised Christian, and I am no longer religious, but respect everyone’s individual choice in what moral/ethical compass, and what religion they choose to live their life by. Based on what I learned in 20ish years of attending Church with my family, your post is not offensive, and has the heart of Christian values at its core. Thank you for sharing- it is wonderful to know there are people like you in the World, and I am glad you are speaking up. Keep sharing your belief in love and tolerance as the morally acceptable way to live.

    November 21, 2015
  57. Kevin Blow #

    The call to discipleship can be/is a costly one, just ask the christians who were used as torches by Nero to provide light or were fed to lions/animals or crucified. It was reported that ‘these christians die well’. Corrie Ten Boom tells the story of the persistent harsh treatment she received from one of the guards in the concentration camp she was in. She met him years later. He explained that he had become a christian and extended his hand toward her in friendship. If I am honest, in that situation (knowing what the bible teaches), I would struggle to take the hand.

    We say that God is all knowing that he knows all contingent possibilities without being contingent on any one of them. Did God therefore know that we would rebel? If he did, he created knowing full well that the relationship would be broken and the cost of what would be needed to restore it. Yet His commitment to/for us has essentially not wavered.

    If the chief end of ‘man’ is to glorify God, do our actions reflect this? If I am honest, most of mine probably do not, but this is no reason for me (in Gods strength), not to continue to try to do so.

    November 21, 2015
  58. fromnorfolk #

    Fight ISIL, welcome refugees?

    November 22, 2015
  59. soulncountry #

    Thank you for two very well written pieces. Just had to log in to tell you that I read your previous post and this one. I agree with you on all of the points you made. Keep on, keepin’ on. The comments are truly baffling to me, too.

    We are asked to be like Christ and not like those around us – no matter what they call themselves. Your words task us to do just that – nothing more, nothing less.

    For those who need an opinion of someone who works with the refugee population day in and day out, read this Facebook post from Scott Hicks, an attorney:

    If you need to see a nice little chart showing you the security, cultural training, and other steps involved in refugee screening, go here:

    November 23, 2015
  60. I agree wholeheartedly with your stated position and applaud your efforts to do something about it.

    I have been working on a Scriptural justification for helping Middle East refugees, intended to go a step further than identifying the error of Christians citing fearful or hateful rhetoric. One particular scripture which seems to me to be a, “Shape up or ship out,” moment from Christ, is the separation of the lambs and the goats in Matthew 25.

    The thing is, I have not seen anyone reference it in relation to the refugee crisis. Anywhere. Am I reading it wrong? Does it not apply perfectly to our Christian responsibilities?

    November 25, 2015
    • Thank you, Tim.

      I absolutely agree re: the Matthew 25 angle. I actually came across this post just minutes before I saw your comment.

      November 25, 2015
  61. Steve #

    religious people are funny. Christians, Jews and Muslims all believe in the same god. Jews don’t believe Jesus was a savior and Christians don’t believe in Mohamed. You all believe in the same god however. The bible is the sacred word of god but there are hundreds of different bibles. You all profess to believe in the same god but you’ll fight to the death over any disagreements no matter how small. I think there is a passage somewhere that says “go into a room by yourself and pray.” Please do that. Keep your hatred out of the public eye. And for the guy who wrote this do you understand when you call on “your brothers and sisters” you exclude those who don’t believe. You isolate your love to those of the same sect. Religions keep people apart if they don’t believe exactly as you do. So instead of brothers and sisters why not just fellow humans.

    November 28, 2015
  62. Mark #

    Well, I thoroughly needed that. Got too caught up in the worldview of things instead of the spiritual view. Thanks

    November 28, 2015
  63. Gary Roth #

    Just reading the first couple of replies countering the author – what terrible theology! recklamusmus, or whatever he calls himself, suggests that we should kill the Muslims, and return tit for tat? Is there really any support in anything Jesus says for that? And the first comment under that suggests that Jesus is not the full revelation of God? Has he made it through Sunday School? Maybe read some of the Bible, like “in him the godhead dwelt fully.” The author is correct in what he says, his detractors should be ashamed to even call themselves by the name of Christ.

    November 29, 2015
  64. TeeJay #

    I have been completely fascinated by the articles (which I agree with wholeheartedly) and the following comments.

    As a Pagan, I’d like to congratulate anyone and everyone who is working towards love as their base response, and overcoming the initial concerns and fears that are the ‘easy’ response to a crisis such as the refugee situation.

    It doesn’t matter which religion you identify with…at the end of the day we should all reflect upon how we’d feel if it was US in that situation…and how would you want people to react?

    If I was a refugee, having faced horrors and deprivation and dangers to my life and my family – I’d hope that someone would offer a moment of rest for my spirit, a little understanding, a word of kindness, a smile…and an attempt at caring actions.

    We don’t need to believe the same, or agree on religious terms of reference, or debate how and why people react as they do…all we need to do is show a little empathy, put yourself in their shoes. What would YOU want to meet at the end of a horrific marathon of danger and hunger and walking into unknown risks to escape a brutal war?

    They’re running from the worst of situations, leaving their relations, homes, possessions…all they’ve ever known…they’ve lost everything including almost definitely close family members. They can’t even visit the graves of their dead family because they’ve had to leave.

    I know I’d want to be greeted with the arms of love, and kindness.
    No matter their religion, their beliefs, their history, their origins…they are humans in need.

    Share the love. BE the love.

    Since I’m Pagan I’m sure many of you would fear me and my beliefs…yet all the Pagan’s I know act with empathy, caring, kindness and love. In every group including Christians and Pagans, there will be nasty types, but you can’t fear an entire group because of a minority – extremists and zealots are NOT the norm in ANY religion or group. MOST Muslims are just like you and me – just doing their best.

    What if it was you? Your family?

    If I understand general ‘Christian’ attitudes correctly – surely sharing love is the right thing to do, leaving the judgement to God is the right thing to do, kindness and loving your neighbours is the right thing to do.

    The ‘extremist’ Christians aren’t the majority…no Christian I know identifies with the beliefs of the Westboro Baptists for instance! (or anyone else for that matter Christian or not). In the same way that MOST Christians are lovely people – MOST Muslims are lovely people too…the small minority are the ones we hear from because the world’s media brings us the dramatic and scary and disgusting events to get their ratings up – the extremists get the most coverage and the world’s views are formed from an inaccurate and intense focus on the extremist minority and the horror of it all.

    The majority of Muslims are people like you and me, just trying to get by in the world and look after their families.

    Caution is wise – that’s why the refugees are screened and processed…

    But fear that Muslim faith will overtake Christian faith is unfounded if Christian faith is strong.
    People will follow their own views – there will always be an ebb and flow of belief changes amongst all humans. Pagans have always resisted Christian attempts to convert us, and we have a long long history of persecution – yet we still believe everyone has the right to believe what they want so long as they harm none (and probably surprisingly we don’t hate or hold grudges against the Christians of the past for that persecution – that was then, this is now). So if Pagans can resist converting to Christianity for centuries – I’m pretty confident that a strong Christian faith cannot be converted to Islam…so the fear of a Muslim takeover is both redundant and foolish.

    The refugees are people. Humans first and foremost. Their religious choices should have absolutely NO impact on how they’re treated and received. If you believe in a God that will judge – then surely you’d be judged on how you relate with his other children – all the debate in the world is null and void if you trust him to make the judgements, and just follow his teachings of loving they neighbour. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks…what matters is how YOU choose to act (and interact). So you can be kind and love eachother because it’s a commandment to do so from Jesus/God – or just because it’s the right thing to do…

    If it was YOU in that situation…you’d hope to land in a place of love, and if not understanding – at the very least a place of tolerance.

    I’ll continue to believe that for the most part Christian people are good caring people…but that belief is often challenged by the vitriolic, negative and nasty, selfish postings I’ve seen from ‘alleged’ Christians on social media. (I’ll also admit that there are some pretty vitriolic, negative and nasty postings from ‘alleged’ Pagans on social media too – we’re all human after all)

    I’m always pleased to see that the numbers of true loving Christians outnumber the intolerant fearful ones. Surely if you trust your God there is no room, or reason, for fear.

    My daughter has volunteered in Greece looking after the refugees…they are desperate, they’re are tired and stressed and facing an unknown future. The least we can do is to give them a brief respite and a little caring kindness to help them along…without the judgement.
    Surely that is the Christian thing to do.

    December 4, 2015
  65. Gordon Koppang #

    I well understand that Pastor Ryan is writing specifically to HIS kind of Christian – to Christians who stand in an honorable tradition of pacifism and for whom the great commission to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and to care for the sick, for strangers and for prisoners is at least as important (and maybe more important) than the other, somewhat dubious, “Great Commission” to go and make disciples of all nations. I like Pastor Ryan and I have posted responses of thanks and admiration to his sermons.

    There’s more than a little condescension in the way Ryan has chosen to describe the people he is NOT addressing; people whose “worldview is unencumbered by any particular convictions about God or duty to neighbour”. Really, Ryan? Is that your default, hair-down, view of me as an outsider? You say that’s not what you MEANT – but that IS what you wrote and it must MEAN something.

    It’s a predicament. On one hand, Pastor Ryan is using his blog to address his kind of Christian with some very specific admonitions about how THEY should behave. On the other hand, his blog is widely read by people who are not his kind of Christian – or any kind of Christian. It’s difficult to have a private family discussion in the digital public square. There’s always the awkward possibility that non-family members (passers-by and interested others) may insert themselves and their opinions into the “private conversation”.

    After I’d read Ryan’s blog post, I couldn’t help thinking of a famous speech made in the House of Commons by Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier:

    … whenever it shall become my duty to take a stand upon any question whatever, that stand I will take, not from the point of view of Roman Catholicism, not from the point of view of Protestantism, but from a point of view which can appeal to the consciences of all men, irrespective of their particular faith, upon grounds which can be occupied by all men who love justice, freedom, and toleration.

    December 14, 2015
    • Paul Johnston #

      Hey Gordon, lately I’ve been spending a little time almost every day pondering what I think is the most important instruction Jesus gave us.

      …”Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”….

      If “trespass” has indeed occurred here, how should we deal with it?

      I have probably been, over the years, more guilty of trespass against, Ryan than any other. My zeal has often preceeded my sense of charity and love, yet Ryan has always found the grace to continue to give me audience and more importantly, forgive me….sometimes against his will I suspect😊…..

      Over a 1000 posts. Over hundreds of thousands of words. More wisdom in them, than not. More usefulness in them, than not. More charity in them, than not.

      Ryans words aren’t perfect. Neither are mine neither are yours.

      Let us choose to forgive one another these small slights. Let us rather build up the, “Body of Christ” rather then tear down.

      The Lord’s peace be with you.

      December 18, 2015
  66. Dawn #

    I was explaining this to someone recently and found your original post very clearly expressed. They are angry because they don’t understand. You have spoken truth. You love the Lord and want to obey Him no matter what. His commands is to love all and to share the good news with all of creation. You said a lot just to say that but you said that. Please trust the Lord to speak to the hearts of those who trust Him and anyone else whom He chooses? Now is a good time for you to choose silence rather than to explain yourself. You did a great job of explaining Gods will and command. Bottom line. Your reputation only matters to you but it’s Gods so please leave the rest of the understanding to Him?

    December 28, 2015
  67. Jesus was highly political and critical of political leaders in his day. He called them vipers, rotten stinking sepulchres, children of the devil, evil, murderers of prophets and more. From what little we know he was raising up a contingent of Israel to overthrow those rotten leaders. Not Rome, I’m speaking of Sadducees and Pharisees. Obama and Clinton are professed Christians who are in those same positions of leaders of the Kingdom and they are as rotten as ever. They too are leading the church to sin, to accept sin in every conceivable form. I believe America is as The Kingdom of Israel in those days and we should be as critical as Christ when it comes to corruption, that we should fight with powerful words as long as words are winning.

    March 29, 2016
  68. Lex #

    I’ve read a number of these comments and it seems that very few are willing to ask some of the very hard questions. There are a number of what I would consider false dichotomies embedded in the reasoning.

    Firstly, we must either love our neighbor unconditionally and without restraint or shut them out completely. The comparison I recall is either build a wall or open a door. Oddly one cannot open a door unless it is placed within some sort of barrier, otherwise no door is necessary. Jesus never said to love our neighbors more than we love ourselves, nor that we should place our own worth above our neighbors but that we should love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Thus we need to have a healthy balance of being good stewards of those things in our individual lives with which we are entrusted as well as caring dangerously for our neighbors. Boundary setting requires that we neither say “yes” in all circumstances nor “no” in all circumstances. It is a reality that Islamic culture is incompatible with Western culture, for good or ill, and the result of Europe’s decision to allow refugees to enter their countries has included many examples of destructive behavior on the part of Muslims who simply do not know how to conduct themselves in their new society, including examples of rape and violence. Contrarily, I had lunch this past year with a husband and wife who are Syrian refugees and also happen to be Christians fleeing from the civil war. As Christians we are called not just to love but also to critical thinking. This crisis is not in any way a cut and dry issue of Muslims invading Europe with violent intent, nor with victims who just need our help, love, and compassion in order to become productive members of Western society. To accept either view without restraint would be naive. Surely we can be loving followers of Jesus and allow these people refuge, but also work to try to protect our own citizens from them without throwing them into concentration camps. I’ve seen Auschwitz, that idea never ends well nor is it in any way Christian. It is a false dichotomy that we must either protect ourselves or love our neighbors, I’m afraid I do take this issue with Ryan, as well as the arguments that people have made opposing him.

    Secondly, I don’t believe scripture has anything to say on the subject of the unmitigated evil of “killing” but rather it demonstrates a prohibition on murder. I recall no commandment among the Old Testament giving of the law to never kill, but rather to never murder. In fact, I recall multiple descriptions of safe cities to be established in Israel where someone who had killed by accident or without “murderous intent” was permitted to flee to in order to escape the pursuer and find refuge. Clearly I think that the anabaptist view of killing is misguided I’m afraid. Neither do I believe that war is simply an evil. Rather, I recall an Old Testament God who made use of the Israelites through their militants actions in the Holy Land to deliver justice on unjust people groups by taking their land and killing them… And then delivering the same judgement on Israel when they failed to live any better! I by NO MEANS mean to say that killing is a good thing, or that death is no big deal, but rather that we need a broader view of the situation than simply to view death as either no big deal, or absolutely unacceptable. I do not condone the idea of carpet bombing Mecca, I do not believe that the only acceptable course of action against Muslim nations is millitary in nature. I do believe that a responsible course of actions as Christians is to consider such choices as an absolute final option, and that we are certainly not yet at that point. I apologize that I cannot clarify where precisely that point might be, I do the best that I can. I consider it quite interesting that over the past 2000 years God seems to have been much more quiet on the use of military force to accomplish His goals. I can think of very few instances in which I believe the use of millitary force was justified, limited to WWII and… Honestly, that’s the only one I feel confident naming as having been a just war to fight. Even so we need not be glad of it. I believe it is false to claim that scripture has a black and white view of death, murder, and war.

    Thirdly, I’ve said it already, but we need to remember that Islam is incompatible with Western culture. While many Muslims are themselves peaceful, hard working people, the religion itself is not grounded on ideals of love or tolerance. It’s very easy to condemn the crusades (God knows I think that all of them following the first were prime examples of the stupidity of Christ followers) but also forget that they began as a response to a millitant Islam that was literally invading Europe, not as a random millitary action without provocation. That said, I think all of the crusades following the first were stupid, ill chosen, and as far from the will of Jesus as anyone could imagine. I do believe that our response to this current crisis has been vastly superior than that of the Church of the eleventh century, but I would not agree that our response has been the best that it can be. I am not certain that any response would ever be adequate to the conflict between the west and the Middle East short of the return of Jesus. In the mean time, we must do the best we can to love the refugees while acting with a level of measured restraint. It is a false concept that Muslims are either peaceful people or brutal murderer and rapists, there are plenty of examples of both, but we have to note that the cultural system on which Islam is built is not like our own and our own logic does not in any way apply to it. Even so, we can care for and appreciate the pain and suffering that these people are enduring and do what we can to love them and serve their needs… With a measure of caution.

    Lastly, the difficulty of responding to modern issues in a Christlike manner has never been simple, easy, or clear. I am absolutely opposed to the idea that same-sex marriage and sexual intercourse between people of the same sex are acceptable, and I am grieved as an American that we recently decided otherwise. I am also absolutely opposed to the idea that as Christians we ought to impose our moral views on others who do not share them, thus I support the laws that have made this possible from a secular perspective. I am deeply concerned for my brothers and sisters who are sexually attracted to the same sex, but livid that in my home Church a few years ago we had a young man who was gay that left after he was approached by a Church member who happily informed him that they were “praying for his condition”. I believe that parishioner was right to pray for him, and absolutely wrong to inform him of their actions. Having read Ryan’s criticisms, I cannot help but agree with him that much of the response to the Syrian crisis from followers of Jesus has been unkind, tinged with a great deal of fear, and supporting ideals that I believe grieve the heart of Jesus. I also think Ryan, that your language use is very strong and tinged with a measure of righteous anger as well, and it is likely to this that many of your readers are responding rather than simply to the ideas you espouse. To all I would suggest that we need to be compassionate to one another. I have a very difficult time being compassionate towards people with a cause when their cause has left scars on my own life, I have several such situations I am struggling with at the moment. However, I hope that I can constantly keep it in my mind that when someone becomes fired up as the result of a cause, they likely have something personally invested. The people who are afraid of Muslim invasion are HURTING as a result of that fear and the current situation. They deserve our compassion and our support even when we disagree with their resulting actions. The people who want us to act with complete commitment in our decision to love our neighbors are HURTING as Jesus hurts knowing that many refugees are in pain, fleeing a war-torn nation in the hopes of something better and they are aching to do something to relieve that pain. The pain and anger we experience reminds us that we are human and allows us to experience to a small extent the desires of God. Thank God we don’t have to experience it in full or we would be undone. Unfortunately we also lack the full wisdom of God and the ability to act in perfect balance to correct injustice as God can act, thanks be to Jesus that “it is done”. We do the best we can and discussions such as this remind us that serving Jesus wholly is most important to all of us, otherwise we would not debate with such intensity. With God’s help, forums like these may contribute to measured responses that better represent His will than our own feeble attempts can accomplish.

    So Ryan, thank you for pointing out the problem of vilifying and demonizing the stranger and the need for us to remember Christ’s command to love, and thank you all who have reminded us that we are called to love others in radical ways, but while being careful to steward our gifts responsibly and not to simply cast our pearls before swine (though the refugees clearly don’t count as simply “swine” as they seem to have an aversion to pork… Some humor can be a good thing sometimes…) And please do try to read and listen not just to the words, but the pain, the fear, and the love that underpin our responses.

    April 1, 2016
  69. Guest #

    Most Christians do not seem to see themselves as strangers on the earth, so they work towards defending their earthly kingdom at the price of entry to the heavenly kingdom. Very few Israelites made it to the promised land.

    April 27, 2016
  70. Kirk #

    Love is the only way! There is evil people that spread fear of others and pit ordinary people against each other. It’s fairly easy to see that someone is trying to get blacks to hate cops and whites . Religions to hate other religions, I feel in the Middle East there’s family’s trying to raise their kids to be healthy and happy just like we are. They don’t want to kill all westerners or even think about us . I don’t wish any ill will on them either. Someone is brainwashing both sides to hate and fear each other and their pros at doing so. They do things in both places and blame us or tell us that these people did it here when in reality it’s them instigating a fight for personal gain. I’d say we all need to realize who’s gain power and money if we all hate , fear and fight and eliminate them not the innocent that have no intentions of traveling anywhere besides to the park to have a good day with their family’s like we do.someone wants us to hate and wants them to also. It’s a big lie to make us fight. I’m personally not into it unless they are doing something to hurt people here. It’s always the war on this the war on that but what have they done to actually stop anything. I feel they are behind a lot of the reason there even is bad around! They profit from it and keep us divided. It is in line with devide the people and keep them hating other innocent people. I’m gonna say this and it does ring true. Don’t believe what’s on tv and written in the papers because it’s a way to brain wash you and it’s mostly not true so be careful not to believe every thing your told. Jesus taught Christianity quit different than the spin we’re hearing now I feel. There’s been a lot of changes done to mess up 100% good for control and profit. Jesus wasn’t about that I feel . He was about love and helping each other. That’s my opinion. When I think about Jesus I feel love run through my veins and I don’t hate or fear anything..

    September 25, 2016
  71. Zvi Zaks #

    Most of your points can also be said about Jews. (And followers of other religions)

    November 29, 2016

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  1. I’m Sorry, Christian, But You Don’t Get to Make That Move | Rumblings
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