Jerusalem is a strange city. It's a tourist city. It's a violent city. It's a religious city.
You can hear the ancient church bells chime on Sunday morning, watch the processional of orthodox Jews heading to prayer Friday evening, and there's no way of missing the Muslim call to prayer each night. Nope. I found there's literally no way to miss that (even with headphones).
Jerusalem is the religious capital of the world and home to the roots of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. It's either a setup for a great "3 guys walk into a bar" joke or a recipe for tension and violence. If you guessed the latter, you'd be right (although I'd like to hear any jokes you have on the subject).
Jerusalem is once again making headlines. The U.S. Embassy is moving from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, declaring it to be the capital of Israel. Now, politically, this whole situation is much like that ball of Christmas lights you were so sure you'd put away carefully, but took you two hours to unravel. This will take much more than two hours to unravel and I don't believe recent events have helped.
Evangelical Christians overwhelmingly support the decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Many believe it to be part of God's plan to restore the land to the Jewish people, rebuild the Temple where the Al-Aqsa Mosque currently sits, then physically return to rule the world. If that's where you sit with things, then no brief blog will likely change your thinking.
My question isn't whether or not you have proof texts to support your view. My question is whether or not you've considered what this would mean for the people currently living in the region. This conflict has been raging for 70 years now. People on both sides have lost loved ones. I've visited a few of their widows and walked past their memorials. I've had stones whirl over my head and I've watched the bullying at checkpoints. I've seen peaceful demonstrations turn violent. I've heard the wisdom of the aged and seen the wild-eyed youth on both sides.
Christians often appeal to the Psalmist's plea to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem". Good idea. Praying for its peace and standing by while one side is strategically marginalized, demoralized, destroyed, and removed are incompatible, in my opinion. That's not a path to peace.
Even if you appeal to the original invasion of Canaan, you can't tell me that the Israeli takeover brought peace in the region. Uh, read Judges. And the rest of the Old Testament. You won't find it in the New Testament either. Yes, the Israelites gained control of the land, but there was certainly no lasting peace. The savvy response is "that's because they didn't utterly destroy every last man, woman, child, and beast as God had commanded!" Indeed. Care to apply that to the current situation? I really, really hope not.
Yet, I've heard from more than one Christian that God's plan is indeed to remove the Palestinian population from the region (that's both Muslim and Christian-BTW!). The words "blow that mosque off the map" have even been shared with me by someone I'd otherwise respect. Folks, this just can't be the mind of Christ!
Christ's mind, as I've heard it expressed, is to "do to others as you would have them do to you." Now, place yourself in today's Jerusalem. You're lived there your whole life. Your family have lived there for generations. This is where you work and worship. One nation (quite secular, BTW), despite what International Law declares to be legal, have claimed ownership of this land in which you live. Another nation (quite secular, BTW), on the other side of the planet, have declared your hometown to be the new capital of the occupying nation. This move is a "step toward peace" and in the "best interest of both sides".
Is this what you would want to have done to you? I'm going to guess "no", unless you're a glutton for punishment. As an evangelical Christian, I don't believe it's right to support this decision politically, theologically, or morally. It's a move backwards. Away from the mind of Christ. We should know better because Jesus has taught us better. There is a new way to live.
We now do to others as we would have them do to us. What would you have done to you if you were a Palestinian in Jerusalem, the West Bank, or Gaza? Would you want justice? Would you want to be heard? Would you want people in a far away land making decisions about the place where you live?
I'm asking you to think and act compassionately. If your theology or political beliefs won't allow you to think and act with compassion, then ditch 'em. Seek the mind of Christ on the matter.
Baby, it's cold outside. One of my least favorite Christmas tunes, for the record. It doesn't matter which cute gal and old coot they get to sing it. It's lame. But that's not why I'm writing this blog.
Here in the PNW, it's getting cold outside. In fact, you'll find it's even cold inside unless you've got a heater or wood stove going. Anything less than 64 degrees and I'm headed for the thermostat.
It's a time of year when many of us have the same thought run through our heads. "I wonder what I'll get for Christmas?" No! Not that thought. The other one. "I can't imagine being homeless in this weather."
How many times has that thought come across my mind over the years? Too many to count. In recent years, I've followed that thought with "I wonder what can be done about it?"
Well, I've just recently found there's some really good news about that!
A small group of people from our community have been meeting together and planning a "Warming Center" for our town. It's just what it sounds like. A place to get warm. I'll spare you the legal talk, but there are reasons why it's not considered a "shelter". So, it does not offer beds to sleep in. But...it will offer hot soup and coffee (provided by Sequim Food Bank). It will offer a place to sit (people are welcome to sleep sitting in a chair though!). It will offer a TV and computer access. It will offer a place for families to gather and stay safe. It will offer resources (Serenity House) for job hunting and homes. It will offer an opportunity for people to find a warm shelter from the cold.
The Warming Center will be run mostly by volunteers. Churches are already grabbing a week at a time to help out. The hours will be 8pm-8am (divided into three 4-hour shifts) and the center will only be open nights when temperatures drop around freezing (someone knows how that will work exactly, but it's not me). So, that means volunteers will know the week they're volunteering, but they will be "on call" depending on the weather.
So, baby, it's cold outside. But that doesn't mean people have to be subjected to the dangers and misery of cold weather. There is now a place to get warm. A place to be safe. And an opportunity for us to show we care.
Interested? Let me know.
Dave became the Senior Pastor in April 2015 at TCC after serving as the Director of Children's and Praise Ministries for 9 years. He graduated in 2011 from A.W. Tozer Seminary with a Masters in Christian Leadership. He and his wife, Katie, live in Sequim with their 6 children, 2 dogs, 15 chickens, and 50,000 honeybees.
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