Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Compassion and Wisdom

“…Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death.” John 7:1

Jesus was avoiding personal danger? Yes. He did so again in Matthew 12:14-15, “Then the Pharisees called a meeting to plot how to kill Jesus. But Jesus knew what they were planning. So he left that area…”

The issue of inviting Syrian refugees into America is not as “black and white” as some present it to be. Yes, Jesus is exceedingly clear that we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. Compassion and wisdom, however, are not mutually exclusive. “Let no one in!” would not be a compassionate practice. But, “Let everyone in!” would not a wise practice either. The answer lies somewhere in between. We are called to minister to true refugees but our compassion must not blind our discernment.

This is a dangerous, fallen, sinful world and that means there are those intent on doing us harm. Protecting oneself from possible harm is not “un-Christian.” In fact, when Jesus tells His disciples to go out and preach the Good News He acknowledges a dangerous world by saying in Luke 22:36, “…take your money and a traveler’s bag. And if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one!” I wonder if firearms had existed at this time might He have said, “…if you don’t have a [gun], sell your cloak and buy one!” To deny there are people out there trying to do us harm is simply foolish.

We know Jesus was not “afraid” of death. We are all blessed because of His willingness to do so. But He did stay away from Judea and Pharisees because they had both threatened to kill Him and He advocated carrying a sword for personal protection. Does this make Jesus unloving?

I say again that compassion and wisdom are not mutually exclusive concepts. We absolutely need to love our neighbors as ourselves but, then again, I would not ask my neighbor to disregard their common sense or discretion and put themselves or their families at risk either.