***I snapped the above picture in Jerusalem during our President's visit.***
I recently gave a presentation to our church about what I experienced during my trip to the occupied West Bank. I've written about those experiences on another post (www.thecrossingchurch.net/pastors-corner/israelpalestine-delegation-may-2017). I highly recommend you read that blog first.
After sharing the many human rights violations I had witnessed (including home demolitions, detainment, and home raids), some people expressed sincere shock as they truly didn't know what has been happening there for the last 70 years. That was the reason I gave the presentation. Many people don't know and they need to. Especially Americans. Especially Christian Americans. Especially Evangelical Christian Americans.
The issues involved in the Israel/Palestine conflict are well-documented, yet little known. So few Evangelicals actually understand the reasons for the conflict or the effects of it, yet so many have a strong opinion. We are to support Israel. It's as though supporting Israel came with the standard Christian-American package. Jesus, baseball, the pledge of allegiance, and standing with Israel. How can we have such strong opinions about something many of us know so little about? Or, for those who would say they are informed, why are so few engaged in seeking a solution? Two words. Theology and Politics.
For those who admittedly are uninformed, I hope you will take the time to catch up. Here's a great link with many resources that may help. ifamericaknew.org/
This particular blog is really to challenge those who would say they "stand with Israel". Why do you stand with Israel? Here are some of the reasons most often given:
Our theological and political views can actually serve as an excuse to dismiss human rights violations. I'm talking about lives being ruined because of a single Bible verse. Again, if your theological or political views allow you to ignore human rights issues, are you open to reconsidering your views?
This, of course, won't be so easy to do. I'm wrestling with it myself. I was asked a great question at my presentation. It was concerning my disbelief that God could be the guiding force behind the occupation of Palestine. Someone said, "God commanded the Israelites to kill every man, woman, child, and beast in Canaan. How do feel about that?" It's a great question and to be honest, I don't feel very good about that at all. Personally, I think a little YouTube footage of the slaughtering of women and children in Canaan might change how we view Joshua's glorious conquest.
My concern is that anyone could justify the actions of this occupation because they believe there's a biblical precedent or doctrine that allows it. Keep thinking about that. Do statements made in the Old Testament override Jesus' clear teaching in the New Testament? Does the fact that Moses declared that God gave Israel the land mean that the people living there now should be removed? Do we make decisions based on the teachings of Jesus or Joshua? I'm hoping you'll take time to pray and think these kinds of things through.
I've watched the response to people on social media who are rethinking things like this also. It's been pretty ugly. Now, if rethinking my theology and politics in order to love the oppressed removes me from membership in my current clubs, then I accept that. I'm done risking being a monster, but a biblically-supported monster. Christian history is scarred with biblically-supported monsters. Witch hunters. Crusaders. Inquisitors. Slave owners. Conquerors. Oppressors. We must be willing to reconsider our theology and/or politics. People's lives are at stake.
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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