When we are faced with a difficult situation, like the one we are in now, we have two choices with regards to reconciliation. We can choose to step back, retreating to our own national and ethnic group, along with the zero-sum mentality and “victim” arguments of our leaders. Or, we can choose to find ways to demonstrate our commitment to peace, fellowship and one another.
During outbreaks of violence, the Al Aqsa mosque and the Temple Mount are constantly mentioned by politicians. We discussed this with our young adults in a session entitled “Whose Holy Sites?” earlier this year. We listened to an informative lecture on the history and significance of this holy place for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Muslim children today grow up hearing that their holy places are in danger, and for Muslims any change in the “status quo” is seen as an infringement on their rights, which is perceived as a religious and national threat. Some Jewish groups seeking to gain rights on the Temple Mount have obtained much political support over the years, so much so that it is part of regular discourse. They slowly seek to increase their demands, first to have the right to be present, then to gain some sort of sovereignty, then the right to pray at the Temple Mount, and finally the right to rebuild the temple. Our lecturer ended pessimistically, predicting that the next intifada would start from the Temple Mount. Although it is too early to say, it seems that this is what we may be sliding toward.
We are deeply saddened at the violence that is spreading around the country. Over the past few months we have watched the situation grow tenser. There is much frustration and anger with our political leaders. In the past few days we have seen violence break out in areas that are generally quiet as some are choosing to express their frustration in destructive ways. Emotions are high; tempers are short; people are on edge.
In John 1:4-5 we read, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), and he included his followers in this, saying, “You are the light of the world” (emphasis added, Matthew 5:14). As followers of Jesus, let us consider how we can “let our light shine before others” (Matthew 5:16). Each one of us can choose to contribute toward escalating the conflict, or deescalating it in our words and actions.
We urge our brothers and sisters in the Messianic Jewish and Palestinian Christian communities to respond to the current crisis in a way that honors God and demonstrates our commitment to the Good News that Jesus brought.
For our friends and supporters abroad, we call on you to join us in these actions.
We encourage you to bring this message to your churches and congregations, and join us in making this weekend (October 10-12) a time of prayer for believers in Israel and Palestine, and all those who live here. We believe that our joint prayers can make a difference. While the present may look dark, we know that even a small light can dispel a great darkness.
By Musalaha Staff