Make a decision about refugees and asylum seekers

Make a decision about refugees and asylum seekers

Refugees and asylum seekers. Those four words are probably enough to stir despair or anger in you, as the Australian Government keeps on struggling with its “border protection” policies.

This week, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop contradicted Immigration Minister Peter Dutton about whether refugee deals with the USA were linked or not. While politicians arguing among themselves might amuse you, that’s just a silly distraction from the critical issue.

Rather than squabbling about what to call the arrangements, don’t most of us just want our leaders to get on with sorting out the best arrangements?

Make a compassionate and good decision about refugees and asylum seekers, please. Don’t just keep playing political games.

What can I do?

For starters, you can have your say about Australia’s foreign policy by being part of UnitingWorld’s “Up to Us” campaign. UnitingWorld is eager to partner with you and me, to tell the Federal Government what Australians want our foreign policy to be about.

But once we have done something like that, we still will have to wait for any changes.

And a hard part about waiting for any government to get its act together is knowing what to do while we wait.

People have had issues with authority figures and their decisions since forever. How many uprisings, coups, revolutions and take-overs have there been, around the world, at top leadership levels?

Yes, that’s talking about being respectful of and obedient to those in positions of authority.

But there’s another side to authority. The side outlined in parts of the Bible, like Romans 13:1-7 or 1 Peter 2:11-17. Read those chunks of God’s word and the message is clear: if any of us want to live well for God, we will live well under those who govern us.

Yes, that’s talking about being respectful and obedient of those in positions of authority.

Why? Doing so honours God, as it acknowledges that “there is no authority except that which God has established” (Romans 13:1). What that means is God allows people to have authority and, by respecting them, we respect God’s authority. Somehow, God’s rule over everything even extends to those who rule over us, wherever we live.

The ultimate choice

But what happens if the people who are governing us are doing things we disagree with or, worse, are doing things God disagrees with?

God in human form, Jesus said all people are first called to love God, and then love their neighbour (Mark 12:30-31). That’s the golden rule of living – for everyone, including those in positions of authority (such as politicians).

Will we first love God and our neighbour?

So, if people in authority are doing things which fly in the face of loving God and loving other people, well, questioning their authority is just the start of how we can respond. Because if they don’t respect the authority God has allowed them, they’re eroding our respect of them.

When it comes to making positive, just and right decisions about refugees and asylum seekers, you and I can pray our leaders do that swiftly. But before any of those major decisions are made, we must all make the ultimate choice: will we first love God and our neighbour?

Ben McEachen

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