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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Who would Jesus bomb? A serious Christian response to the crisis in Gaza

A wise man once said, “The first one to plead his cause seems right until his neighbor comes and examines him.” That wise man was Solomon and the saying comes from the book of Proverbs, a book respected as the Word of God by both Christians and Jews alike. As an evangelical Christian born and raised in the charismatic movement, I grew up hearing only one side of the Israeli/Palestinian story, primarily the Israeli side. I always assumed that God gave the land to Jews and if the Palestinians don’t like it, well, they can sit on a tack, because everyone knows that Palestinians are the devil.

Sunday school songs aside, what’s happening in the Gaza strip is serious. That’s why we need a grown-up Christian response. Sadly, that’s exactly what’s lacking in this crucial hour.

So here goes.

I believe that Israel has the right to exist in safe and secure borders. I also believe that Israel has the right to defend itself. I understand the sentiment of President-elect Obama when he says that if rockets were being fired at his home while his two daughters were asleep, he would do everything he could to prevent it. I believe Hamas is a terrorist organization that espouses an ideology diabolically opposed to freedom and progress. I despise the fact that they persecute my brothers and sisters in Christ living under their thumb and, of course, firing rockets indiscriminately at civilians is never justified. Period.

So is Israel justified in their heavy- handed approach towards the citizens of Gaza? Judging by the fire breathing on both sides of the debate, I don’t see a consensus on this one coming any time soon. As for my fellow Christians, we can debate the subject until Jesus comes back and the debate will have largely missed the point. Sure Israel may—or may not—be justified in their aerial bombing campaign and subsequent invasion of the Gaza strip, but that question alone shouldn’t determine the proper Christian response. Why? Because Christians are called to live by a higher standard than what’s merely justifiable.

Jesus would have been completely justified in slaying the bloodthirsty Romans of His day. The crimes that the Romans committed against the Jews were every bit as bad, if not worse, than the crimes Palestinians commit against the Jews today. But when Jesus hung on the cross, He showed the world that there’s a higher law in God’s moral universe than brute justice. And that law is mercy. When it comes between following the suffering redemptive love of the cross and the enemy crushing way of the sword, Christians are supposed to choose the cross—at least that’s what Christians used to believe.

No I don’t think that followers of Jesus would be prudent to impose New Testament standards on non-Christians, but what I find particularly odd is that when Palestinian Muslims embrace Christianity (like the case of Mosab Hassan Yousef, the son of a Hamas leader who recently made his testimony public) we expect them to embrace a new attitude towards their former enemy Israel. We expect them to love, bless, do good to, and pray for their enemies—like Jesus says to do. But when an Israeli Jew embraces Jesus as Messiah, most of my Christian friends don’t expect them to be less militant towards their Palestinian neighbors but more militant. We expect them to fight for their land and liberty even if that means that on the other side homes are demolished, land is confiscated, Palestinians participating in non-violent demonstrations are either tortured, imprisoned, or assassinated (this happens all the time in the West Bank by the way) and, as in the case of Gaza, women and children are denied food and medicine for years on end.

My Christian friends would say that problems in the Middle East would be solved overnight if every Jew and Palestinian would simply confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Without meaning any disrespect to people of other faiths, as a Bible believing Christian, I’m compelled to agree. But here is where the argument falls apart when the wrong people use it. Some of the same people who use this argument are also the ones bombarding the White House with e-mails urging our Secretary of State to let Israel fight. They never seem to ask themselves the question of who would Jesus bomb? What a shame that is! Because how can we as Christians say that the world would be a better place if everyone became one of us when we’re the ones cheering when the bombs go flying?

4 comments:

RS said...

Jesus would not bomb anyone

But the bible says its the Govt job to protect its citizens. You say that Israel is being "heavy handed". There is no other country that would go WAY out of their way for peace as Israel has. What would you propose they do? It sounds like you are a true man of faith who is doing great work for the Lord. I would say that you are misguided on this issue. I would urge you to read "Eye to Eye" by Bill Koenig.

God Bless

Rich

Aaron Taylor said...

Hello RS. Thank you for commenting on my blog. I suggest you read my book "Alone with a Jihadist" when it comes out. The question isn't what is allowable for governments? The question is what is allowable for Christians? The amazing discovery that I've made is that these two are often at odds with each other. But, there again, you'll have to read my book to allow me to fully present my case.

Blessings!

Aaron

Anonymous said...

Thank you so very much for your blog: As a born-again Christian with deep family ties and roots in Israel, you are able to express exactly how I feel about the current situation.

Many true believing Christians have no idea how terrible the Israeli army behave towards Palestinian civilians in the West Bank and in Gaza and how dreadful the living conditions of the Palestinians are. There are so many traumatized Palestinian children that have never seen a jew, except for israeli soldiers who very often treat them and their families with contempt and even smashing them and humiliate them.
The support to the actions of the Israeli government unconditionally is alarming because it contradicts the Gospel and Jesus´ care for ALL people regardless their background and religious upbringing.
I keep wondering how some believing Christians read and comprehend the Old Testament : There are so many stories of the prophets who critizised Israel when they were on the wrong track.
Nowadays too many Christians (especially in the US) turn the blind eye to the fact that for unsaved muslims it is a very very big wall that true Christians seem to be caring so little of the Palestinians because they are muslims! They talk about muslim Palestinian in a "spiritual" manner and make them an automatically linked with Islam and therefore it seems to be okay to almost hate the muslims at such.
Of course you can find hateful Muslims and Islam is not Christianity´s "best friend". Anyway Atheism is not either and any other disbelief or religion.

Looking e.g. through the Christian channel www.cbn.com and their news of the war in Gaza is a chock to me!! Not a single word of the civilian losses in Gaza. Not one word of compassion with the wounded and dead children living in Gaza,- Gaza an almost "God-forsaken" place,- full of grief and despair for so many years.
We are SO very wrong in having this cool attitude! There are many muslims in that area that do not know the wonderful message of Christ. Our ability to meet them as human beings with tender loving care,- searching for the soul "behind the veil " is crucial if we want to be seen as serious witnesses of a merciful God who sent his own Son as a sacrifice for our sin.


It is time to read the parabel of the good Samaritan and to pray our sweet Saviour to unlock the true meaning of this story.


I apologize for any errors in my English language/writing, since it is not my "first" language.

Kind regards & God bless you
A.O. from Denmark, family ties in Nazareth.

Aaron D. Taylor said...

A.O. Thank you for your thoughts. I'm glad to finally hear from another Christian that actually gets it!

Note to critics: A.O. has roots in Israel!