Today, New Year’s day, I sat in a long line of traffic on the Autobahn, at the border of Austria and Germany, waiting to be interrogated by German police officers regarding my citizenship status. I knew I would be experiencing firsts this year, but this I did not expect nor welcome.

Being four Americans and one Austrian attempting to cross the border without passports, we were slightly nervous. The border check had been set up in an effort to ebb the steady, yet lessening flow of Syrian refugees still arriving in Germany daily. As we waited in the long line, the upcoming interrogation spawned a deep conversation amongst us regarding the fate of the Syrian refugees that were caught attempting to cross at such borders.

In the end, we were simply waved through. We were later told it was most likely because we were a man and a woman in the front seats. Married couples are generally allowed to pass without question. But our conversation regarding the Syrians stays with me. If they are caught at the border, they are temporarily housed in refugee camps with the ultimate goal of being returned to that from which they fled.

I have tried to imagine what it must feel like to live in fear of life within your own country. I wonder how hard it must be to attempt a new beginning, to be taken in temporarily by a foreign nation always with the understanding that you will go away and not become a permanent burden. The assumption is that you will be a burden. New beginnings are hard and often forcefully prevented by others.

Change scares the comfortable.

When you became a Christian, did you ever feel like a refugee within your own life? Have there been loved ones who wanted you to return to the way you used to be and leave such nonsense behind? Did they implore you to keep your faith to yourself and not reveal this new beginning? Did they become angry when you tried to speak to them or others about why you were attempting to follow the life of Jesus Christ? Perhaps there have been friends or even family you have lost as a reaction to your faith. Were you suddenly an unwelcome burden?

If none of these things have happened to you, perhaps you should go back to the border and try again. Don’t be afraid to grasp this new life and live it out fully as your relationship develops with Jesus Christ and God shows you the way. And then count it all joy. (James 1:2–8)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
— 2 Corinthians 5:17

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
— 2 Corinthians 5:20