I have recently returned from a trip to Ireland. While passing through Belfast on my return journey I saw a huge “Free Palestine” sign on the Black Mountain above the city. A friend informed me that, for the most part, in his community to be Protestant is to be “pro-Israel” while to be Catholic is to be “pro-Palestinian’. By inference of term therefore the opposites are also true.
Some time ago I wrote a blog post entitled “The Cult of Israel”. As expected the post drew a strong response both for and against what I had written. Perhaps not completely unexpectedly one friend accused me of being “pro-Palestinian” – a strange, although not uncommon response, by “Christians” who identify themselvs as “pro-Israel”. I had thought that the God of my Christian friends loved all peoples.
Some of the same self confessed “pro-Israel” friends will, from time to time, send out pictures, even Christmas greetings showing the tanks, planes and the soldiers of the IDF – the inference being that these forces with their state of the art weaponry are on some divinely approved mission which must not be questioned.
What seems to be conveniently overlooked or avoided is the fact that these same forces deliberately kill, maim and destroy the innocent along with those they perceive guilty. For instance according to reliable sources, in 2014, the IDF killed between 2,125 and 2,310 Gazans. Between 10,626 and 10,895 were wounded (including 3,374 children, of whom over 1,000 were left permanently disabled). More than 7,000 homes for 10,000 families were razed,together with an additional 89,000 homes damaged.
I am not here looking for a political argument, justification of otherwise for the above. I know there are those within the nation of Israel who strongly oppose such actions just these are those who claim to be “Christian” in the West who support it.
The question I ask is simply this – is the Jesus you follow a Prince of War and Destruction or the Prince of Peace announced by the prophet Isaiah? Is your Jesus the same Jesus who said – “love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.”? Are you living in the age of Grace or the age of The Law with its retribution and tooth for a tooth theology?
Yesterday I shared these words on FB – “Any religion that helps you to hate should be avoided at all costs”. I was not thinking of Islam or any other faith alien to our culture when I wrote that – but the faith of my fathers known as “Christianity” insofar as it has been misrepresented by so many groups and individuals.
I find myself increasingly out of step with a Christianity that promotes hate and division, demonises the innocent and excuses their death and destruction as part of God plan for them. In so doing I believe they reject the Jesus of love, mercy, grace and compassion I have found in my own life and in my own Bible. The same Jesus who sided with the broken, the oppressed, the marginalised and the disenfranchised. I personally still believe he is the same today – I don’t know about you.
“Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.”