Thursday, May 05, 2005

Who's Family? Palestinian Christians

At risk of sounding very politically incorrect, I get the feeling evangelicals in America are confused about their family. All humanity, of course, is part of the human family. Jesus said we're to love our neighbor, and our neighbor is the person next to us regardless of religion, sexual practices, color, language spoken, and so on.

Then there's the Christian family. And without neglecting love of our neighbor, Scripture does provide all sorts of directives about loving those in our own family. James talks about providing for widows and orphans in their distress; Paul offers instructions to young churches about how to parse out help effectively and compassionately.

I'm amazed how we so quickly forget the family we have in Palestine. Somehow, we treat our Israeli neighbor better than we do our own Palestinian family members! And that to me is a shameful thing. Without neglecting the people from whom our Savior's family came, we cannot and must not neglect the people who's faith in that Savior dates back to the first century. These are our sisters and brothers in Christ, oppressed by Israel and hard-pressed to remain faithful while among a larger majority of Muslim Palestinians. (A majority, I remind my fellow Christians, who is also our neighbor, and very few of whom are involved in any sort of violence!)

Evangelicals are not all blindly pro-Israel. And being pro-Israel, I would argue, is not at all the same thing as being pro-Jew. One can faithfully agree "Never again!" in reference to the holocaust without also agreeing to Israel's building of what Palestinians call an apartheid wall, the daily indiginities at checkpoints, the oppression of Palestinian villagers by Jewish settlers in Palestinian territories, and so on. To oppose these things is not to oppose Jews, but merely to oppose radical Zionists. Two different categories, those.

I do tend to bring this topic up over and over. Maybe it is because I believe what Jesus said so long ago, while walking on some of the same roads the checkpoints, armed soldiers, and apartheid walls exist on today. "Who is my neighbor," the clever lawyer asked Jesus, trying to defend himself against Jesus' convicting words. Jesus told him the story of the good Samaritan. If we can't even figure out who our family is -- Christian Palestinians being among the first yet least-remembered members -- how in God's name are we going to be able to love our neighbor the fervent Muslim, the pious Jew, the weary and sad agnostic?

I don't think we can.

Links for further illumination:
Holy Land Ecumenical Christian Foundation
Bethlehem Bible College
an article on Christianity among Arabs & Palestinians


Justin said...

I blogged about this too some time back...

Here is a news website run by Palestinian Christians (Baptists I think). One of my favorites. You might like it too...

Jon Trott said...

Thanks, Justin. Even though your picture scares me! LOL

Justin said...

hehehe... dont let it scare you. I'm a loooong time fan. :)

jim s said...

Jon, there are many who share your views. From a theological standpoint, the following link is an interesting read, entitled "An Open Letter to Evangelicals and Other Interested Parties:
The People of God, the Land of Israel, and the Impartiality of the Gospel"

Jon Trott said...

Thanks, Jim. I'll repost your link "live" so it is clickable here.