Living with a locked door and an open heart.
There seems to be a misconception in our culture that having boundaries equals a lack of love.
This spills out into many different aspects of relationships, family dynamics, and our society in general. One way I've seen this explode to the surface is in regards to actual national borders and immigration policy. There are huge debates right now on how "open" our borders should be, especially in light of the recent horrific Islamic terrorist attack in Paris and the Syrian refugees.
On one side you have people insisting that anything but dissolving national borders, and rolling out large welcome mats to anybody and everybody that wishes to relocate from the country of their birth is "xenophobic". These people often smugly insist that people who disagree with them are hateful, bigoted, racists. Because when you lack a logical argument name calling is an effective way to discredit and silence others. There is also the assumption that if you have a more nuanced opinion you must lack compassion and are certainly being "unChristian".
On the other side of this issue we have people who feel that that borders need to be slammed closed, that people shifting around puts their way of life, their jobs, the economy, or their own comfort level at risk. Governments should only ever spend money on their own citizens and the world can burn outside the safety of their little bubble of serenity.
I find myself wandering through the murky grey area between.
As Christian I am compelled by certain principles of generosity, grace, mercy and sacrificial love. I also believe that every human being is an image bearer of God and are inherently equal in worth. As such I will treat you with respect and dignity regardless of who you are or whether I agree with you on any particular topic. As a Christian I also believe in justice and acknowledge the reality of evil in the world as well as the darkness nestled within the hearts of mankind.
Because of the reality of human depravity and sin, I lock the door of my home at night. I am a realist with solid hope, not an idealist with pixie dust.
I lock my door, not because I hate everyone on the outside of my home, but because I love and want to protect those who are sleeping peacefully within it's walls.
I lock the dead bolt of my door knowing full well that there are some people in the world who callously choose to harm others. It may be simply a small deterrent, but it's something. There is some security in knowing it will be difficult for someone to enter unexpected and uninvited. I do it because that is the loving thing to do.
Some might say that locking my front door is hateful because someone might be in need of a home and they have every right to mine. My home might have a nicer computer than theirs which really isn't fair. Not allowing them free access is heartless and not compassionate. One might even justify home invasion and theft because the perpetrator might have felt disenfranchised or marginalized. Maybe it's a cry for help and we should put up signs on our doors saying "home invaders welcome" or "free hugs for burglars".
If you want to do that, more power to you. You either lack good sense or are far braver than I. Maybe you don't care about the safety of those you love or being a good steward of what you have been given.
My guess is that most everyone who wails against a cautious immigration procedure or secure border, locks the doors of their own homes. To me it's a very similar thing.
You see, my humble home is filled with people I love. So filled up that we are in the middle of a construction project to add a couple extra rooms. Our house is full because we have open arms and open hearts. We have welcomed the weak, the unwanted, the rejected, the disabled and the wounded into our home. We have become family. My prayer is that our arms and hearts will remain open and ready to embrace those in need.
Whether it's someone who's vehicle has broken down on the the bitterly cold Saskatchewan highway, or someone who has recently moved to our country...our kitchen table, as small as it is at the moment, is always ready to be set with an extra place. Even if it means some of us have to eat on the floor or in the living room. We will make room. We will give you what we have. Whether you are rich or poor, whether you are refined or so rough around the edges we have to remind the children not to stare, you will be treated with dignity and kindness.
This is our home. This is the home I strive to create. A place of warmth and welcome. A place to belong and to be welcomed as you are. A place where grace is lived out. That grace is important because I am very aware of that not one of us who live here is without desperate need of it.
Here's the catch. We get to choose who we allow through our front door. We should and do swing it wide open to people in need, to neighbors near and far, to friends, to orphans, to widows, even to strangers. On the other hand if someone is outside our home yelling death threats it is not unkind to close that door, lock it and call the police... Maybe even apply for a restraining order.
Not only do I secure the door of my warm and welcoming home at night but I also have general boundaries regarding who I will share my home with, and who will be permitted to dwell within these walls.
If I know that someone is a heightened risk to harm my children, for example they are known to have raped children in the past, they will not be seated comfortably on my sofa or curled up in one of our beds. If I feel compelled to minister to that person in any way, it will be outside the walls of my home. Some might consider that mean or ungracious, but it is something that my family has had to navigate.
I will not only protect my children but I will model that strength for them so they learn to develop their own healthy boundaries. Love does not equal "tolerance" of anything and everything.
Those boundaries are not a fortress and our home is not a bunker where we hide. I teach my children to leave their comfort zone, and the relative safety of these walls, and go out into the world. Love draws people in and it also means going out and meeting the needs of people where they are.
Yes, as Christians we are called to love and forgive, even our enemies, but forgiveness doesn't delete consequences or equate trust. Love doesn't ignore reality. Sometimes love means saying "no". Sometimes it means allowing someone to experience the consequences of their own choices or experience the just reward for their crimes. Even if our heart breaks for them.
Loving those within my home requires my vigilance and scrutiny. It requires that I carefully consider who I allow to babysit, and who I trust to spend time alone with my children. It requires that I might offend, I might hurt feelings, and I might seem unwelcoming or overly cautious. This is me loving those who are entrusted to me. Those within my little flock will always come first.
I can promise you this, if someone does breach the border of my front door uninvited, and with malicious intent, they will not meet a passivist they will meet two fierce parents who would rather sacrifice their own lives, or end someone else's, than allow their children to be harmed.
Bottom line is this. Loving parents do what they can to protect their kids. Good shepherds protect their flocks. A responsible government protects it's citizens. That is first priority.
In the past few days people are spouting all kinds of smugly absurd things all over social media. One of the most troubling patterns I see are those people scrambling to deflect, distract from, or downplay the actions of the vile terrorists who massacred roughly 130 unsuspecting people. Many more were injured. The world, especially those who live fairly insulated lives in the west, doesn't know what to do with that.
My theory is that people pretend violent Islamic jihadism isn't a threat because they don't know how to reconcile that sort of barbaric undeniable evil with a humanistic world view that claims everyone is essentially good. When something unimaginable happens they scramble to prop up rhetoric, like a corps with rigamortus. Anything but call it what it is. Anything but look evil squarely in the eyes. Anything but believe that there are people in the world, who with a clear mind and passionate sense of purpose, have schemed, studied and planned ways to brutalize people they hate.
Christian doctrine accounts for that kind of evil. It angers and saddens me, but it doesn't pull the carpet out from under my assumptions or beliefs about humanity. We contend with sin, while proclaiming God's extravagant mercy and scandalous grace available to the vilest repentant sinner. We don't pretend evil doesn't exist. We also don't pretend it doesn't exist in our very own hearts as well.
Denying how deeply depraved humanity is, is a false sense of security. Metaphorically speaking, it's not us with our secured front doors and careful screening of babysitters that are clinging to false control, it's those of you who pretend that at is well while you "lovingly" welcome the devil into your children's bedrooms.
Some cling to the hope that they can appeal to, appease, and reason with stone hearts and blind eyes. I believe heart transformation is something only God can do.
Some move forward with the hope that if they can make evil small, manageable or explainable...then they can prevent those horrible things from happening.
This world will be dangerous and unsafe as long as it continues to spin.
My hope doesn't begin or end here.
I have the assurance that, despite the raging chaos in the hearts and minds of mankind, Jesus is still on the throne. Our God is sovereign and He is both the beginning and the end.
Terrorist don't win, Jesus does.
Until that day, I will continue to have open arms and a secure door.