The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. -Psalm 34:18
We are grieving over the conflict and loss of life in Israel in these past days. The brokenness and violence of sin is on full display for the world to see. As pastors, we have struggled with our response. We are not without our personal feelings on the matter, but we also recognize that our voices represent a church, and this church is made of people with all sorts of opinions and perspectives.
Ours is not a call to espouse any political sentiments. Ours is a call to Christlikeness in all things. We don’t always get it right, but we are genuinely seeking this way of life. So, before we go any further, we recognize whomever is reading this might have very strong feelings one way or another about what’s going on in Israel. So do we. We’ll express some of them below. But let’s consider two important ideas before we continue.
- Russell Moore, the editor of Christianity Today, once said, “If God’s way upsets our political alliances, let’s crucify our political alliances.” In other words, we must first be seeking Jesus – God-in-flesh – and his way forward. If our political ideals become the lens through which we see our faith, rather than the other way around, we have created an idol and must repent.
- John Wesley said, “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?” This is just a reminder that our Christian love for one another must also outweigh our ideals about the way the world should work. If we are all faithfully and actively seeking Jesus, the Spirit will lead us to wisdom.
Every single person on earth is a bearer of God’s image (Genesis 1:27). Therefore, as Christians, our call is to life, not death. Celebrating death of any sort is celebrating the brokenness of sin realized in the world. After all, death is a result of sin’s existence (Romans 6:23).
So how do we think about and respond to the terrorist acts and the ongoing conflict? What can we do as Christians across the ocean?
First, prayer. We can and must pray. It’s our first call to action. We must pray that God’s will be done. We must pray for the loss of life to end. The Eurasia Region of the Church of the Nazarene offered this prayer for the Holy Land:
Gracious God, we pray for all living in Israel and Palestine, recognizing your love for all people. We pray for peace and comfort for all those who are suffering. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Second, peacemaking. Our call is not simply to be peacekeepers, but peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). Peacekeepers don’t rock the boat. They maintain the status quo. Peacemakers call out violence and stand up for the marginalized: the sick, the widow, the prisoner, the orphan, the stranger, the naked, the hungry. Peacemakers seek the peace of Christ in their own lives, and seek to offer the peace of Christ to the world around them. Our active pursuit of peace may only be local and present, but its effects can be global and generational.
Third, talk about it. At least in your homes and with your families, have a conversation. If you have kids or teenagers, chances are they are hearing about this conflict. The hashtag #Israel has over 30 billion views on TikTok as of this writing. That’s billion, with a B. Our kids are certainly more likely to get their news from social media than Google. Videos are easily edited and given captions to support agendas, and our kids don’t necessarily have the filters in place to seek discernment as image after image is sent their way. So, please, have a conversation about it. If you don’t know a ton about what’s going on, you could learn together. Start with something like, “So, what have you heard about what’s going on in Israel?” Talk about it. Do research together if they’re interested in learning more. Then, pray the prayer above together.
To be very clear, we stand in complete opposition to the Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel. These acts have brought pain and suffering to so many families. We also lament all callus violence aimed at bearers of God’s image.
May we, as Christians, not get caught up in the politicization of violence and war, but rather actively seek peace. Peace through prayer. Peace through our actions. May the way of Christ be evident to us. And may the love of Christ be evident in us.
Pastor Robby and Pastor Kyle