Interesting how packing to move has shed light on Syrian refugees and ministry. I had to wrap up a large framed poster of a photographed lion that hangs over my desk. My wife had it framed and matted for me before we moved to New Orleans ten years ago. The lion is galloping toward the camera. Eyes locked. Locked on you, or through you? Will the lion eat you, or is he on his way to something? The quote framed with my photo: "Aslan is not safe, but He's good."
This is one the major quotes from C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia about Aslan the lion, an allegorical character of Christ. I did not get this poster because I thought it would go with our decor. I first saw the poster in one of my seminary professor's offices with another one of Lewis' quotes under it. The poster is a powerful reminder.
The quote simply reminds me that serving Jesus is not safe, but serving Him was never about safety. Serving Him is about what is right. Jesus never promised us safety. He promised the opposite would often be the norm. Following Christ and serving Him does not insulate us from cancer, discomfort, poverty, loss, violence, ridicule, or any other malady this fallen world may throw at us. Serving Christ also does not guarantee we will have what we want. We are NOT promised running water, much less voting rights. We are NOT promised three meals a day, air condition, iPhones, $5 cups of coffee, or a welcoming culture that loves Christians.
Serving Him is not about us.
In light of recent events with Syrian refugees, packing this image reminded me of why I got the poster in the first place. The poster is a reminder to serve Christ, not my comfort.
As to Syrian refugees, the situation is always more complex than what the news portrays. Out of the mass of refugees in Europe, how many were terrorists? The point is, there are legitimately hurting families fleeing from evil, and not just from Syria. I believe Christ wants us to minister to them. Letting them come to our country has risks, but how did we get the expectation that doing the right thing was always safe? Also recognize that Christ commanded the Church to minister to people, even our enemies. Christians should not expect the government to do the Church's job. If the US grants entrance to the refugees, will Christians step up and love on these families, or will we rant galvanizing rhetoric?
I want to protect my wife and children, of course, but that very instinct to protect them helps me understand all the more why a Syrian father would seek protection for his family any way he could. Thankfully, we have brothers and sisters in Christ who are doing the work Christ called us to do, and we can participate. The International Mission Board is a direct way to get involved.
If we find ourselves with Syrians in our midst, I pray that Christians will stand out as the ones who showed Christ to them in their time of need. Is this an opportunity to demonstrate that Christians are not what ISIS claims we are? Are we murdering "Crusaders," or welcoming and generous? We can demonstrate that we are not collectively fighting against them as their radicals claim, but collectively ministering to them. This opens doors to sharing the gospel with them and others.
Are there risks? Absolutely. But Christ never promised risk-free ministry. In fact, I think I read somewhere something about denying ourselves and taking up a cross, and a cross is not warm, fuzzy, or safe. Christians are called to do and say what is right, not what is safe or comfortable.
The quote, "Aslan is not safe," reminds me that following Christ in a fallen world is hazardous. However, Christ is good in the truest sense of the word. There is no evil, no error, no mistake, or fault in Christ or in His call on our lives. While following Him can result in pain, discomfort, or loss at times, it is right and good. There is no better place to be than in the center of His will. Simply because circumstances are not ideal, comfortable, or overflowing in opulence does not mean a person is out of the will of Christ. Jesus' cross was not comfortable, but it was good for God's plan and our redemption.
We are packing that lion photo because Christ has led us to serve Him in Tennessee. There is much excitement when Christ is on the move in our lives. That reminds me of another quote, "They say Aslan is on the move." Is Christ on the move in your life?