Letter: Christians are called to serve, to love refugees everywhere | Opinion
From the Sioux Center news:
I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed with Sioux Center News and I’m disappointed with Doug Vander Berg. I am disappointed that the Sioux Center News believed that the publication of such a racist and damaging letter would be helpful or informative to the Sioux Center community. I am disappointed that Mr. Vander Berg proposed in his letter that the reception of refugees could be inspired “from the devil himself”.
Mr. Vander Berg referred to three scriptures in the Old Testament in his letter. I would like to refer to three additional scripture passages, except for the New Testament. The first of these passages is found in Matthew 25. Speaking of the Son of Man separating the sheep from the goats at the second coming of Christ, Jesus says that the King will praise the sheep. “For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you called me in.” These words, straight from the mouth of Jesus, provide a clear motivation for ministry to refugees. Refugees are by definition strangers and we are called to invite them.
In Mark 12, Jesus declares that the second greatest commandment is “Love your neighbor as yourself”. The love that Jesus is talking about here is not a love that expects something in return. After all, 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 says, “Love is patient and kind. Love is neither jealous nor boastful nor proud nor rude. It does not require its own means. He is not irritable, and he keeps no record of having been wronged. The whole point of loving your neighbor is not conversion, because loving your neighbor expecting something in return is not love at all. It would be manipulation. God does not need us to love with conditions to do his work. All he needs from us is love.
From Mr. Vander Berg’s letter, it is fair to assume that he views people of the Muslim faith as enemies. At the very least, enemies of his current way of life. In Luke 6, Jesus gives instructions on how to respond to our enemies. “But to you who will listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. . . If someone asks for your coat, give them your shirt too. Give to whoever asks; and when things are taken from you, don’t try to get them back. . . If you only love those who love you, why should you be credited with it? Even sinners love those who love them!” If Sioux Center strives to be a Christian community, we are called to a higher level. Even though we have enough prejudice to regard Muslims as our enemies, we are called to love them After all, even sinners love those who love them.
I believe in a God who is love and a God who calls us to love. I have faith in a God who has the power to do his work in all communities, even those “ruined” by the presence of mosques and Muslims. I love a risen Savior who ate with tax collectors, prostitutes and even his traitor. I firmly believe that Christians are called to serve and love refugees everywhere, even if they have different beliefs. If Mr. Vander Berg wishes to invoke the Scriptures as justification for his racism and prejudice, I would suggest that he turn to the New Testament before doing so.
Derek Ten Pas,