The editors of Relevant Magazine asked to write a response to this question during the recent violence in Israel & Gaza. I was especially encouraged by two things: 1. Relevant is inviting its readers to critically engage the Middle East conflict through the lens of Jesus. 2. The overwhelming response and engagement of readers on this specific piece. For most, the conflict is easier to simply ignore, but these readers want to wrestle, think and live into a new reality.
Here is an excerpt. You can read the full article on Relevant Magazine’s website.
“As the conflict and many human lives hang in the balance, my heart is heavy.
Through my work with The Global Immersion Project, I have spent a significant amount of time over the years cultivating relationships among both Israelis and Palestinians as we partner together in cultivating a narrative of reconciliation. As is often the case when we approach a people or place with the hopes of being/bringing the needed change, I have been the one most changed by my friends and colleagues who reside in the Middle East. Behind so many of the subconscious stereotypes and prejudices I had acquired earlier in my life I began to experience the richness of friendship and brotherhood among people I had previously “known” only through the latest sound bite.
From Orthodox Jewish Rabbis to Christian Palestinian scholars to Muslim Palestinian leaders teaching the way of nonviolence, these are my friends, brothers, sisters and partners.
When my social media outlets began filling up with messages of fear, bloodshed and mourning my heart broke not only for a war half way across the globe, but for my friends. My teachers. My partners.
A Jewish Israeli friend wrote, “Siren in Tel Aviv. Just spoke to my father from the shelter.”
My Christian Palestinian brother shared multiple laments, “My friends in Gaza’s latest status update: “My Lord! This is enough! What is this?” “Lord protect us. What is this? Terror terror.” “The land is shaking.”
While many of these individuals are currently in immediate physical threat, a greater pain for them is seeing the seeds of violence being sown in the soil that they have tireless turned over for the sake of reconciliation.
Was all their work worth it or does this mean it was all-pointless and that there really is no hope?
My heart not only breaks for my friends in Israel and Palestine, but it breaks because of the hateful stereotyping, racism and violent response being disseminated by Christians as they watch the news unfold and enter the discussion.
As followers of the pro-people Jesus, is this best we can do? Is that a reflection of the Christian hope that was brought about by and through the acts of the Suffering Servant? Have we lost our imagination that leads to the participating in the restorative mission of God for the cosmos?
Friends, we can do better. We must do better.
How then shall we respond?“
Go HERE to read in its entirety.