There’s a strange either/or mentality in the Christian world today. Rising out of the conflict going on in the Middle East, it basically says that if you’re pro-Israel you must be anti-Arab. And if you are committed to ministry among Arabs and Muslims, you are going to have it in” for Israel.
It seems to me that God must be annoyed with both sides. Jesus died for Arabs as well as Israelis and He loves them all equally. If we’re going to be like Jesus in this world, we have to rearrange our thinking on this issue. We don’t have to hate Palestinians or Arabs in order to support Israel. We don’t have to throw a blanket-condemnation over the State of Israel in order to love Palestinians.
If the church is not going to lead the way in demonstrating how the love of Christ can break down the barriers of misunderstanding between these people groups, then what hope is there for the gospel making a difference in this world? I don’t think for one minute that there will be true and lasting peace in Israel until Jesus the Prince of Peace rules and reigns at His return. But I do believe that as He rules and reigns in the hearts of Jews and Arabs His peace can be established among our peoples. Truly, when Arabs and Jews can say to one another, “I love you in Jesus’ name,” the whole world will see the reconciling power of the Gospel at work. So what can we do to begin making that a reality in the world today?
Those believers in Jesus who tend to be on one side of the divide or the other need to get off our “high horses” and come and pray and break bread with our brothers and sisters on “the other side.” Illusions and misunderstanding can only be maintained as long as there’s distance between us. When we break bread together, when we pray together, that perfect bond of unity which is in Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, begins to prevail. Differences, though fueled by genuine conflicts in the region, begin to fade away.
As the head of a Jewish mission, with a staff of Israelis working in the land of Israel, I feel as though I’m in a position to address this issue and encourage others who are supportive of Israel. I can openly and honestly say, “I love Palestinians, I love Arabs.” I’m willing to admit that the situation in the Middle East imposes intolerable conditions on some of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who are Palestinian along with the rest of the Arab population there.
It grieves me to know that this is true, but I also understand the complexity of what is happening and how my brothers and sisters in Christ among the Israelis feel so extremely vulnerable and threatened as does the rest of the Jewish nation in the Middle East.
No political negotiations will resolve this conflict. The Bible tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6). I am redoubling my efforts to pray for God’s peace to rule and reign in the hearts of Arabs and Jews in the Land. I urge my fellow brothers and sisters who love Israel not to forsake their love for Palestinians and Arabs, but to likewise pray for their blessing and their good. And I urge my brothers and sisters in Christ who have sympathy for Palestinians and their plight to not assume a hostile stance towards Israel and the Jewish people.
Let us not draw the same division within the church that is without. Let us not accept the political realities as the boundary markers for our own spiritual reality. God calls us to a better way. As a Jewish mission leader, I pray that my life and my ministry is characterized not just with a burning passion for my own people, but a love for my cousins, the descendants of Ishmael, the Arab nations in the Middle East. I know that one day we will all gather around the Throne to worship the Lamb together. I’d like to believe that it’s possible for us to begin that worship even now.