Palestine (MNN) — Palestinian Christians have suffered as their brothers and sisters have often forgotten their place in the story of the Great Commission.
At Mission Network News we encourage listeners to find their place in the story. But which story is that?
After Jesus rose from the dead, he gave the Great Commission to his disciples, telling them that He had been given all authority in the whole cosmos. He commanded them to go out and make disciples for Him out of every kind of person on Earth.
This vision, that people of every nation and tongue follow Christ together, has not always been adhered to by the Church. And when Christians forget what story they are in, bad things can happen.
We reported yesterday that Palestinians often feel their lives don’t matter to the police. Dr. Munther Isaac of Bethlehem Bible College says, “People use Scripture to justify our oppression today… people, I’m sure, used Scripture [in a similar way] to justify slavery in the past. And that’s where things hurt the most, I think, when it’s your sisters and brothers who are not compassionate with you.”
Specifically, Isaac talks about a certain Christian theology in Israel and America that sees the Holy Land through a certain lens. Isaac says, “I always say it’s like a fairy tale of God bringing the Jewish people back to the homeland as if it was empty. As if we Palestinians haven’t lived here for hundreds of years and considered this home.”
In seeing the land through the lens of this story, Christians can forget about their brothers and sisters who are Palestinian, Isaac explains. “They’d rather just celebrate the fulfillment of prophecy or God’s faithfulness to the Jewish people while excluding our part of the story. I think this is something many African American theologians and others can resonate with. [Many say] the story of America is about creating a city on a hill, and the ideals, and the great constitution.”
But the story of the Great Commission is bigger than any of these things. It’s bigger than Israel or the United States or Europe. Jesus sent His disciples out into the whole world to proclaim His death and resurrection to everyone on the planet.
People tend to put up walls, Isaac says, and not always physical ones. We like to believe that we cannot live with those who are different from us. But the story of Jesus tells us something radically different, Isaac says. “It’s not about just eliminating the walls of discrimination and separation. It’s more of turning this reality of separation into one of fellowship and coexistence.”
Header image depicts the Israeli West Bank barrier. (Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Bible College via Facebook)