Pilgrims don't carry their mattress

04 September 2015

Controversial Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán has bemoaned the massive influx of migrants from Syria and Iraq through Turkey as a menace to Europe's "Christian" society.

He reportedly wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, “Everything which is now taking place before our eyes threatens to have explosive consequences for the whole of Europe.  Europe’s response is madness. We must acknowledge that the European Union’s misguided immigration policy is responsible for this situation. . . . Irresponsibility is the mark of every European politician who holds out the promise of a better life to immigrants and encourages them to leave everything behind and risk their lives in setting out for Europe. If Europe does not return to the path of common sense, it will find itself laid low in a battle for its fate.”

He added, "Those arriving have been raised in another religion, and represent a radically different culture. Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims.  This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity. . . . Is it not worrying in itself that European Christianity is now barely able to keep Europe Christian? There is no alternative, and we have no option but to defend our borders”.

He says he wants to control the flow of migrants in Hungary in order to register all comers and thus enforce EU law, which requires that immigrants stay in the country by which they enter Europe. Thus he justifies the 175-km long razor wire fence strung out on Hungary's border with Serbia and now being backed up with a concrete wall. He's sure migrants will not want to stay in Hungary, Poland, Estonia or Slovakia; instead they will want to move to Germany and other northern countries where the social welfare system is better able to meet their needs.  

Meanwhile EU leaders here in Luxembourg and Brussels have been trying to find a more equitable solution to the migration surge.  Chancellor Merkel and EU president Jean-Claude Juncker have asked that other EU states take on the burden of hosting refugees from the war-ravaged Middle East, and that this burden-sharing be proportionate.  

The long and short of this is that when these proposals are adopted, we can expect more people from North Africa and the Middle East showing up on Luxembourg's streets.  The children will be in the schools side-by-side with local children, and the Grand Duchy's Muslim population will experience another expansion.  What should we think about these new realities?  How should we respond?  I've been thinking about the following:

1. Europe is not Christian.  Mr. Orbán's concerns are understandable, but he is off target when he suggests Europe is "Christian".  There are no Christian countries, only Christians, for Christianity is a personal issue, not a matter of the state.  And even if a nation or region could be considered Christian, Europe has long ago abandoned the heritage of the Bible and a significant presence of believers convinced and committed to Jesus Christ.  Europe's departure from -- indeed, rejection of -- the authority of the Scriptures has left a vacuum that cannot press out other world views.  Europe cannot remain neutral; it will become increasingly secular or increasingly Muslim.  But she cannot hope to survive on the crumbs of a nominal Christianity's waning ethic.

2. Individual Christians are all pilgrims.  A friend of mine mentioned the other day that pilgrims don't carry their mattresses.  Christians are citizens of a coming kingdom, where Jesus Christ will set up a rule of justice and mercy.  Until that kingdom is revealed at His return, His people are "just passing through".  As the apostle Peter wrote, "I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly desires, which wage war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11).  We dare not become too attached to the priorities and things of this life.

3. Christians are called to give away their lives, even before enemies.  If people of another faith enter Europe, what does the Christian do?  He reaches out to them, even if he knows some may betray him.  Jesus said, "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you; in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?  Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same?  And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:44-48 NASB).

If things in our little country begin to get a lot harder, only the love of Christ can motivate us to reach out to people in need.  This will begin with announcing the gospel message, and it will be backed up with acts of kindness.  Christians have the best possible reasons for living this way.  We should be able to go further and longer than people with only a secular agenda.

Time to think like the pilgrims we are!


Photo credits:

 

Reuters/Bernadett Szabo at http://europe.newsweek.com/eu-considers-billion-euro-fund-african-countries-take-back-migrants-332281
Madiner.hu at 
http://www.criticatac.ro/lefteast/orban-as-the-european-unconscious/

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 October 2015 18:10