Feet are very important for everyone, but especially for soldiers. It is with your feet that you either stand your ground, and resist, or retreat and run away. We are to clothe our feet with the gospel of peace, and take it with us everywhere we go, to reconcile with God and with each other. Many believers hear the phrase ‘the gospel of peace’, and instantly think vertically, of peace between God and man. But real peace, as it appears in the Biblical context, requires horizontal peace with fellow man in addition to peace with God.
Two children were fighting in the park next to my home. Minutes before they had been playing football and enjoying each other’s company. They had a disagreement that lead to an unbelievable barrage of curses. It was amazing how the curses they unleashed were full of passion and anger. Not only did they curse each other, but they cursed their mothers, families, ancestors and homes. It seems that demeaning and degrading comes more naturally to us as human beings than blessing one another. Cursing is not just a habit for young children, but also adults do so in more sophisticated and refined language, or privately in our minds and hearts.
The cross has a unique role and function in this land where 2,000 years ago, Jesus was crucified. Followers of Christ in Palestinian areas and Israel are essentially a minority amidst the Jewish and Muslim majorities. As so much of this region is defined by the conflict between groups, believers in Jesus look to Him as a basis for reconciliation. While Muslims and Jews reject the cross, believers who pursue reconciliation are seeking to fulfill Christ’s prayer for unity in John 17:21, so that their testimony of unity will reflect His work of reconciliation.
We and others who are involved in reconciliation have observed certain trends when Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews enter into a reconciliation process. The journey towards reconciliation has often occurred in several stages.
This past August 4-7, 24 women left their homes and families and traveled to a small village on the Turkish side of Cyprus. We chose this location for a few reasons: 1) It isn’t too far away from Israel, so we didn’t have to travel for a long period of time. 2) It is a relatively “neutral” area, foreign to both Israelis and Palestinians, so we would feel equally comfortable or uncomfortable in this setting. 3) We had to cross the border into the Turkish side of Cyprus, and this was the first time Israelis and Palestinians could experience a border crossing together, comparable to what Palestinians regularly experience when crossing from Palestine to Israel.
Most of us as born-again believers in Jesus (Yeshua) do not have a problem with racism. That is a gross sin that we left behind along with lying and stealing. However, there are subtler dimensions of racial prejudice and ethnic pride that have more of a negative influence on us than we are aware.
The difference between this trip and other trips is that the Arabs are not Muslim, but Christian. That means they believe in Yeshua (Jesus), and that means we have a lot in common since the most important part of our lives is identical. That is what made me eventually decide to go; to see if peace really has a chance, once the separating religious walls have crumbled.