Palestine (MNN) – Christians in the Arab World are typically the minority population. This includes in the Holy Land where Christ was born. However, it does not mean Arab Christians fall in line with the politics of their Western brothers and sisters. One particular area—the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Many Christians specifically in Israel and Palestine and even countries such as Jordan are actually of Palestinian nationality. However, these Christians are a minority because of both their religious and their citizenship.
Israeli/Palestinian Conflict Politics
George, an Arab Christian associated with Program for Theological Education by Extension, says there are situations where Christians from the West come to the Arab World and try to convince their Arab brothers and sisters of their own political stance regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Often, these political views pushed onto the Arab Christians lack a deeper understanding of the complexity of the conflict and how it affects the rest of the Arab World.
“Israel is a complicated issue in our area…the religious and the political level. So, they need to separate between serving God and their stance towards Israel. If there are, let me say, missionaries who want to come and serve God or people who want to serve God but [they believe], they have some kind of, let me say, special belief about Israel, they need to come keeping this faith for them,” George says.
“I mean this does not help us if they believe [Israel will or the people of Israel will restore the land an all of this]… Let them keep this belief for them because if they want to come and convince us of this or talk about it to the government or any of these things, this will hurt us more than really helping us.”
Shifting Mindset About Israel
George is not asking anyone to change their political stance but to be aware of the context surrounding it. Promoting a pro-Israel stance comes across as political and damages the Gospel message in the Arab World context. Also, some Arab Christians disagree with the pro-Israel view for theological reasons. George says politics is not religion, and in the Arab World these two need to be separate. Religious work needs to be conducted without a political agenda.
“We have our reasons, theologically, [not] politically [for not being pro-Israel]. And in addition to that, [Christians] need to remember that…the first century, those Jews who did not believe in Jesus were cut out of, were cut [out of] Jesus,” George says.
“Whoever wants to benefit from Jesus, faith is the way to do this. So, he needs to understand it. I mean the Jews and Gentiles need to be saved in the same way which is through Jesus, faith in Jesus. So, whether you love Israel or do not love it, Jesus is the way for Jews and Gentiles and this did not change. It will not change.”
George recommends for Christians who have a heart for Israel to perhaps consider outreach in Israel rather than pursuing a political stance internationally. Second, trust God. Pray for God’s hand in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as well as for the global Church to stand with its family in Christ, not against it. Finally, pray for God’s love and truth to penetrate the hearts of those who don’t know Him.
Header photo courtesy of Anton Mislawsky via Unsplash.