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Israel/Palestine: All That Is Needed Is For Everyone To Turn to Jesus. - A Bible and a Bat'leth
Two double-edged swords, one angry peacemaker.

Date: 7:04 pm Mon 24th of Sep, 2012
Subject: Israel/Palestine: All That Is Needed Is For Everyone To Turn to Jesus.
Security: Public
Tags:church, cpt
Disclaimer - I am NOT having a go at anyone in particular. I have heard this statement many times before (made it myself too), and often had a faint, complicated sense of it being an unfair statement. I want to unpack one aspect of that, without assigning blame, and I am open to hearing responses.

When people (well, Christians) say of the Middle East (well, Palestine and Israel) that the ultimate resolution will come about when everyone comes to know Jesus... there are various problems, practical, theological, political, etc with that stance. Some are more obvious than others.

But the one I just figured out concerns specific incidents of oppression. For example, illegal settlements in the West Bank draining aquifers that Palestinians rely upon. It's absurd to look at that situation and announce that Messiah's return is needed for people to stop stealing water. 'Thou Shalt Not Steal' predates Jesus' initial teaching tour by some time, and is a pretty universal idea. We have always had a sense of what injustice is, even if it's needed a bit of refining over the years.

Even without the particular self-sacrifical shine that Messiah offers to our ethical ponderings, there is quite enough in basic ethics to know what is right to do in such situations. Obviously there are other issues that maybe don't get an answer in the 10 Commandments. Some might still consider it essential to enforce their 10th Commandment Rights to bear arms to protect their house, donkey and male and female servants from thievery.

Even assuming that we put all our efforts into making everyone a Jesus-follower, that does not alter the issue. Christians routinely oppress Christians (and certainly people of other faiths and no faith), individually but especially nationally. The modern face of North America is built on violence committed by (and for) Christians. So that's something to consider. (if you're a Christian and you feel unfairly slandered, by all means stick in 'religious' instead - so long as you know this includes us just as firmly).

Keeping in mind Christianity's staggering historical capacity for hypocritical love of/trust in violence, how does making everyone Christian alter our West Bank scenario? There is still a finite amount of water and pipes are siphoning it away from one group to support the other. Either 'side' in this situation could theoretically submit to the other in a self-sacrifical manner, but who should? The answers come from other fields of study like economics or ecology, if we strip away all divisions of nationality, religion, culture. Those answers are already there today.

I am not saying anything about coming to faith in Jesus - good or bad. For me, it's a good thing. But as long as it remains something that affects individuals on the religious level, it is largely irrelevant to the politics, roughly equivalent to 'wars would end if we all just smoked weed together'. It also makes the specific religion somewhat irrelevant - how is everyone coming to faith in Jesus better for peace than everyone declaring that there is only one God and Muhammed is His messanger, or sending off for their free Scientology personality test?

Jesus is the Prince of Peace. But his reign begins here, today, in our imperfect hearts, our broken lives, and even across the spectrum of belief; in the lives of those that do not know him. We aren't called to wait for his coming again, for a future revolution, before we live lives to the full, which means lives of peace and peacemaking, in pursuit of the Good News and its fulfillment.

Come on, get going, you peacemakers! Bring justice and transform the earth to make a dwelling place of our hearts and nations worthy of the Prince of Peace!
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User: spacklegeek
Date: 3:07 am Tue 25th of Sep, 2012 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, yes, yes, to this. Thanks for taking the time to write it all out.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 6:21 pm Thu 27th of Sep, 2012 (UTC)
Subject: Nice idea, but...
"All it takes is for everyone to come to Jesus."

But has history really borne that out? People who love Jesus often have more infighting and bickering than people who don't. The entire middle east could come to Jesus, but are you sure this would end conflicts?
Not to mention - how? How do you overcome all the other religious ways of thinking and get them to all come? True faith in Christ is always the domain of a remnant - a narrow way, not the popular way. No matter the place or context.
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User: medievalshadow
Date: 2:58 am Sun 30th of Sep, 2012 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
ITA. I think Christianity's biggest worth is when it is used for personal motivation to do good. But it is only one of many, many ways people can be motivated to do good. As Christianity is often used as a motivator to do evil (re your example of North America), it can't be the answer to everyday problems, especially not problems as complex and multi-faceted as those of Israel/Palestine.

In my experience, bad people who convert to Christianity do not become good people. They just become one of many, many bad Christians.
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