A couple of Eastern European nations have been charged with showing “favoritism” for only wanting to take in Christian refugees. This of course raises an important question about the nature of Christian love - should it show favoritism? Or instead, should it treat everyone equally?
However, it is clear that Christian love discriminates. Let’s just look at a few examples:
- AS CHRIST AFFIRMED, WE HAVE A SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS OUR PARENTS: Matthew 15:4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’”
- WE ALSO HAVE A SPECIAL
RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR IMMEDIATE FAMILY: 1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does
not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his
household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
- HUSBANDS SHOULD DISCRIMINATE IN FAVOR OF THEIR OWN WIVES: Ephesians 5:28-30 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
It has even been argued that the best way to love our children is to first love our wives. We can also infer that the best way to love our neighbors is by first loving our wives and children. If this is so, favoritism is understandable.
While the husband is supposed to favor his own wife, it is also true that Christ favors His own bride – the Church. If He favors His own people, why shouldn’t we!
- JESUS DISCRIMINATED IN FAVOR OF HIS BRETHREN:
- Matthew 12:48-50 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
- Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
- TRUE BENEVOLENCE MUST BEGIN IN THE HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH: Galatians 6:10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t love those outside of the Body of Christ. Instead, we are commanded by Christ to love our neighbor. And the church has been faithful over the centuries to this calling. Professor of Sociology Robert Woodberry performed extensive research on missions:
- “Woodberry already had historical proof that missionaries had educated women and the poor, promoted widespread printing, let nationalistic movements that empowered ordinary citizens, and fueled other key elements of democracy. (Christianity Today, Jan/Feb 2014, 38)
- “Areas where Protestant missionaries had a significant presence in the past are on average more economically developed today, with comparatively better health, lower infant mortality, lower corruption, greater literacy, higher educational attainment (especially for women), and more robust membership in non-governmental associations.” (39)
Nevertheless, showing favoritism is not only rational but is also biblical. Jesus showed favoritism for His brethren, and so must we!
- By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? (1 John 3:16-17)
In fact, according to Jesus, we must love one another, because the world will not:
- “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you… If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:12, 18-19)
Love must start at home, especially for the Christian refugees who are fleeing for their lives. Nevertheless, we must still love the people of this world, but we must do this with wisdom. It is one thing for me to personally take a risk by extending myself to a dangerous but needy person – a potential jihadist. However, it is entirely another thing to coerce my neighbor to take such a risk. This is now what is being required of us Americans by our government by taking in tens of thousands of Muslim refugees.
The Center for Security Policy poll recently found that:
- Muslims, a majority (51%) agreed that “Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to shariah.” When that question was put to the broader U.S. population, the overwhelming majority held that shariah should not displace the U.S. Constitution (86% to 2%). …
- A quarter of the Muslims polled believed that, “It is legitimate to use violence to punish those who give offense to Islam by, for example, portraying the prophet Mohammed.”
- A full 25% of those polled agreed that “violence against Americans here in the United States can be justified as part of the global jihad.
It is in love that we discriminate, even within the church where we exercise excommunication (Matthew 18:15-20) and other forms of tough love:
- For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
This kind of tough love is necessary for everyone so they do not lapse into idleness. In light of the Islamic teaching to take over the world to impose an Islamic Caliphate, placing everyone under Sharia Law, Christian love must also be a tough love. It should seek a stable, permanent, and peaceful solution for those Muslims genuinely in need, perhaps by assisting Muslim nations to take them in. In these nations, they would be able to live according to Sharia. Based on the above survey, Christian love is duty- bound to protect the innocent from the great numbers of Muslims who are committed to violence to get their way.
Perhaps the best thing for those in need is a demonstration of how we Christians love one another. Jesus taught that the world would recognize that we are disciples of the Savior by our love for one another:
- A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
It is often our failures to demonstrate this kind of love that keeps people away from the church. Daniel-Rops was a professor of history in Chambéry, then in Amiens and finally in Paris. Although brought up as a Catholic, he became an agnostic by the 1920s. Why? According to Wikipedia:
- When he considered the misery and social injustice around him, and the apparent indifference of Christians to those they called their brothers, he questioned whether Christianity was any longer a living force in the world.
Perhaps this is why Jesus prayed:
- “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. (John 17:20-23)
At the basis of evangelism is discipleship – our endeavoring to love one another. When the world sees this, they will perceive the reality of Christ in the midst of His Church and perhaps believe. What better gift can we bequeath to the world!
How do we love our brethren? By praying for and reaching out to those in need in particular ways, especially at this time of overwhelming crisis
Let us pray for all refugees but especially for our brethren, as Jesus did:
- I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you [Father] have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:9)
Jesus also prayed for those who were not His brethren, but He favored the brethren. We too must!
We are those who must love the entire world, even in the face of their hatred of us. It is therefore essential that we support one another. Strangely, Christians castigate other Christians for showing such favoritism. Lord, help us!