I love my country. Wherever you are from, you probably love your country too. It’s called patriotism, “love of the fatherland.” Rightly understood and lived, there’s nothing wrong with patriotism.
Loving my country, though, does not mean that I believe “My country, right or wrong, but right or wrong my country.” It does not mean that I believe everything my country has ever done is perfect or right or correct or even in some cases moral. The USA, like all countries comprised of human beings, has some darkness in its record. Loving my country does not mean that I think every American leader is always correct or, in some cases, even admirable at all. Point is, I can love my country in spite of its flaws.
Christians believe they should “pray for the peace of Jerusalem,” as they should because this statement is in the Scripture. Many Christians believe that Jews are “God’s chosen people.” This is also referenced in Scripture. But respecting or loving Jews is not the same as believing the modern nation-state of Israel is always right, it’s actions must be defended blindly, or worse, that loving Jews and appreciating Israel must mean Christians should dislike, reject, or worse, hate Arabs, Persians, or Turks, no matter what some of them may say or do regarding Jews or Israel. Just like my country, the USA, has flaws, so does Israel.
But a lot of conservative Christians confuse this issue. If some American television preachers aren’t anti-Arab, they certainly sound anti-Arab. They think this makes them biblical. In a similar vein, too many Christians use social media to demonstrate their Christian bona fides by making categorical, one-sided statements in support of anything Israel the nation state does, or making implicit and often explicit anti-Arab or anti-Palestinian statements. They think this makes them biblical.
But we should remember several things:
- God loves Gentiles as well as Jews, which means God loves Arabs, Persians, and Turks. (It even means God loves Muslims, not their belief system but them as human beings trapped in an ism.)
- “Palestinian” is just a word describing a group of people caught in a historical and geographical cul-de-sac. Palestinians are not ipso facto “the enemy,” though Israel and much of the world, including Arab states, treat them as such
- Some Palestinians like Hamas are indeed dangerous, but most are just families trying to live, to survive in what basically is a hostile environment. And some are Christian believers. I’ve met them.
- Nowhere in Scripture does it say Christians should despise non-Jews in the name of loving Jews. In fact, Jesus himself reached out to the Samaritan woman at the well. Paul became the Apostle to the Gentiles. Peter learned not to call anything or anyone God created, “unclean.”
Love is possible despite flaws, otherwise none of us would be loved. We can love our countries, love Jews, and also love Arabs, Persians, and Turks. We can honor Israel as a nation-state without suspending our ability to critique its actions and without aligning against others in the Middle East and North Africa. The same is true in reverse.
Whatever your opinion of the “two-state solution” for Israelis and Palestinians, whatever your view of the Trump Administration’s December 2017 official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, remember that God loves Palestinians as much as he loves you. Remember that your patriotism for your country is a blessing, while Palestinians long for an official country of their own that they may love. Remember to apply your Christian critical thinking and knowledge of theology across the board, for your country’s leaders and actions, for Israel’s, for those representing Palestinians, for all.
Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2017
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