Are we ignoring Christians or Christianity?

An Israeli friend of mine sent me the link to an article in the Jerusalem Post and asked me to respond. Below is my respond to this friend. Also, Here is the link to the JPost article:

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=241236

It is sad to read this rhetoric in the JPost. The writer has taken a few facts and used them to fit her own agenda. Firstly, the Mainline churches in the West, including the Anglican/Methodist church she singles out are vigorously and actively fighting the trends that are mentioned in this article. So are the other churches in America. We all have very active lobby groups in Washington who are constantly working with our government to improve these situations.  You frequently hear pastors calling their congregations to action over these kinds of events. We also have numerous missions throughout the world working with foreign governments to ease the tension. Obviously, this work is not always successful, but whose diplomacy is these days? The point is – nobody is ignoring the problem and we are all working to stop the persecution of Christians in every nation around the world. Secondly, the writer is completely wrong about the attention this problem receives in the West. We have been painfully aware of the violence all along. The news media gives it a lot of attention. The recent events in Egypt were not ignored here. We read about it and see it every day as you do. The writer of your article implies that Western media is pandering to the Islamists by ignoring the problem – this is simply not true. Also, President Obama has been very vocal about condemning these actions. Most recently he has been in the news condemning the violence in Egypt and calling for its end. The JPost article makes it sound as if the President supports the situation – also not true. Finally, the Christian community does not only criticize Israel in this debate; we criticize everyone who persecutes Christians…This includes the persecution of Palestinian Christians. Any nation that allows the persecution of Christians is worthy of criticism; Israel is not an exception to this rule. I have seen for myself the conditions behind the wall of separation that pushes Palestinians – Christians, Muslims, and others – to live in places that resemble the ghettos of WWII in terms of their forced separation from the rest of the country. I have seen for myself the construction of illegal settlements in Israel (“satellite cities”) that continue to push the emotional buttons of both sides to the breaking point. I have also seen the persecution of Christians in India where believers are beaten or killed for not bowing to one of the 330 million Hindu idols there. I could go on and on and on. The issue is far more complex and much broader than the author in JPost presents. She wants us to hear that American Christians are picking on Israel – this is not the case – We are picking on anyone who persecutes anyone on the basis of prejudice; whether that is religious, social, cultural, ethnic, or political prejudice.

Sadly, the article is correct about the decline of Christianity in many Muslim countries. However, the reasons for this often have less to do with persecution and murder and more to do with the Christian church itself in those countries. Gandhi said: “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are not very much like your Christ.” This shameful truth speaks to the many of our faith who fail to behave as they claim to believe. Many people have left our churches in search of a spirituality they do not find in many of our congregations. This is an indictment of our own collective behavior, not an accusation of persecution. If we consider the three great world religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – these are the ones who trace their roots to Abraham…We must acknowledge that there is more than enough blame to spread around. Jews have been persecuted by Christians and Muslims; Muslims have been persecuted by Christians and Jews; Christians have been persecuted by Jews and Muslims…NOBODY has clean hands in this centuries-old battle. The only solution to any of this lies in everyone’s willingness to move beyond the hurts of the past and move forward into a future filled with hope. Unfortunately, that seems to be God’s plan, not ours. As human beings we seem unable to live under the will of God and only able to pursue our own petty political and social agendas. This is true in America, Israel, Europe, Asia, and Africa – it is true wherever people are in charge. If God were allowed to be in control, we would have nothing to talk about in this debate. Part of the problem is that, if you ask the Israelis – they will tell you that they believe God is in charge on their side of the battle; If you ask the Americans – they will tell you the same thing; if you ask the Muslim extremists – they will claim the same divine leadership. My point is that we are all wrong when we make this claim. The one true God of Creation is not on the “side” of any nation or political party that behaves the way we are all behaving right now. The God who created all of us – all of humanity – desires reconciliation and peace; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob wants all the peoples of the world to come to Him; the God of Moses and of David and of Jesus does not approve of jihad, or illegal settlements, or military interventions. God’s plan has always been very different from our plan; God’s methods have always been very different from ours.

I would guess that you did not anticipate this lengthy sermonic response. The fact is, I am in the habit of reading the Jerusalem Post along with American and European news sources. What I find most often is a clear editorial agenda from each source that is not only self-serving, but also geared toward sensationalizing every issue to sell their product. We hear so much about the extremists on both sides of every issue that we begin to believe that truth lies at the extremes. I disagree; I believe that real truth lies somewhere in the middle of the extremes…This is the essence of compromise. Unfortunately, “compromise” is not a word often espoused in the political debates of any nation on earth – including Israel. I believe that nobody has a claim to being all right or all wrong…except God. Human beings are arrogant creatures who need to step back and recognize who is really in charge in the end. When all is said and done; when all our battles are over; when humanity finally stops trying to be something they are not; only then will we all realize the one absolute truth: God was and is and always will be in charge…God is God and we are not. AND – God wins in the end.

Be blessed, my friend,
Don Tabberer

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