Thursday, October 30, 2008

The way so many Christians see things in such polar opposite ways has always challenged me.

It struck me the hardest when I was in Israel studying in college. We met Christians who felt convicted by God to peacefully protest against the Israeli government buldozing Palestinian homes, putting their lives in danger to prevent further violence.

We also met Christians who pray for war in the middle east so that Christ will come sooner and felt convicted by God to support Israel no matter what, even when they harmed the innocent. (I got the impression that if Israel decided to slaughter their entire palestinian population, this group would rejoice and support them. I am not exagerating.)

Who is right? Who am I to say one group is a better or truer Christian compared to the other? (rhetorically, I am not looking for an Israel argument) How can someone who is truly passionate about Christ have completely different opinions than me, even ones that I find biblically offensive?

Is everyone who disagrees with me just misled by Satan? Am I just misled by Satan? Can two mature faithful Christians have completely conflicting viewpoints based on how they read the scripture? Where does this leave the truth of scripture?

There are so many questions in my heart around this issue, and some answers that I've slowly grappled with over the years. Sometimes it really depresses me, sometimes it gives me joy in the way God created us all so uniquely to express himself.

Grace, humility, love, Christ. Those are the answers that bob in my heart and inspire me, even when I am frustrated and calling someone who disagrees with me "stupid". *smile*

All I actually wanted to say is that I enjoyed stumbling across this post today, exploring this topic in light of our upcoming elections. Somehow trying to explain it turned into long post.


D said...

Good Post Kari :-) I would think this is something that many struggle with, so I thought I would share some scriptures that help me.

Hbr 4:12 For the word of God [is] living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

2Ti 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Hbr 5:13 For everyone who partakes [only] of milk [is] unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.

Act 17:11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily [to find out] whether these things were so.

We all have our presumptions and traditions of what we have been taught, but we are called to know the Word, so we can discern when one of us is being deceived. We are all susceptable to the enemies lies :-) And we are called to keep each other accountable. So if God tells you to correct me on something, please do it! *wink* My words come out wrong all the time, plus more often now that I have prego brain-all the more humbling, asking for grace!

D said...

I hope that makes sense. I am afraid someone will take it wrong. What do you think?

Ken V said...

Pastor Dahlstrom hits the nail on the head. I appreciate his mention of Ephesians 4, where "unity of the faith" is described in future tense, as something that we cannot expect to achieve on this earth. But the real topic of this chapter is the unity of the Spirit, which he describes in present tense, as the goal we're all working for in the here and now.

It's a tough goal, though. Being dogmatic is fun, and it makes us feel smart and spiritual. But if you press your point to the stage where you're alienating other Christians, then you're being disobedient.

That's not to say we shouldn't seek to know and communicate God's truth as accurately as possible. But the way in which we do so is important. In fact, you could argue that it's the most important thing, considering that there are far more passages related to preserving unity & love within the Body of Christ than there are about pursuing doctrinal purity.

Amy said...

All you need is love. -The Beatles
(Okay now it might be the percocet talking)

D said...

So, out of curiousity, did anyone ever say anything to those Christians had views that were more obviously opposed to the Bible?

Kari said...

The peace activists believe that human life is precious to God no matter what the race. And we are called to be peacemakers. They can back it up biblically and are actually Mennonite.

The ones praying for war are actually a huge group of "evangelical" Christians, an international organization with thousands of followers. We interviewed the head of the organization while we were there.

We were there in a learning capacity and we did ask the leader challenging questions about what they believed but didn't confront him per se.

We were trying to truly understand what & why they believed what they did, which I believe is vital before challenging anybody.

D said...

Sorry, I guess I should have clarified :-) I was definitely referring to the ones praying for war and not the peacemakers, considering we are to "Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem!"

On one hand I can *understand* (kinda, but not really) why they would think that way, but biblically, war is going to continue until the King returns, so why pray for it? That doesn't seem to hurry things along any!

What are your thoughts on it?

Kari said...

In my mind, we should do everything we can to work for peace in the middle east and God will take care of the end times in his own way.

Just because evil, poverty, violence, etc. will always exist till Christ comes doesn't mean we give up and stop showing love to those who suffer.

This group believes Israel must exist for the end times to happen, so they do everything to support (those who bless Israel will be blessed) a strong Israeli state, even if it means Israel going to war and even if it oppresses other people.

They accept everything that Israel does as "God's will", praise & support the country and do not ever question its actions, even when they are harming/opressing other Christians - who happen to be Palestinians.

Some things they say do sort of make sense at first glance, but when you really follow their line of thinking it leads to some unsettling conclusions like the ones I stated.

D said...

LOL, that's awesome! You are talking about me!
I agree with pretty much everything you stated that they believe it, except "praying for war" and encouraging oppression. This is one area I believe our media severely skews our perception of the conflict.

You're going to *love* my Israel post! :-)

Ken V said...

I'm looking forward to your Israel post. When you write it, could you be sure and clarify who you mean by "Israel"? Is it the 13.3M Jews worldwide, i.e. the actual descendents of Abraham? Or is it the 7.3M residents of the Middle Eastern country that didn't exist until the UN created it in 1947 (of whom only 5.6M are actually Jewish)? Are we to bless a group of people, or a political entity?

Amy said...

I just read a great quote in a book that struck me and actually will change the way I live my life to reflect this belief, "All I want you to do is to trust me with what little you can, grow in loving people around you with the same love I share with you. It's not your job to change them, or to convince them. You are free to love without an agenda."

I think too often we take on the task of correcting or changing what everyone else believes to make it be our version of what is right. I believe what this book wrote, it is our job to love one another. I believe this is inline what what Kari prays for in the Middle East. It is loveing them. We need to love as God loves and that is our job.

Kate said...

I also am anticipating the Israel blog...

My two cents on this topic. Can God be "above" the issue and not "take one side" to this or the many other debate that separate Christians? I think that the diversity in the Christian body is good (probably none of us is really "right") and should spark conversation. I don't think the because two Christian's have opposing political or spiritual options that one is deceived by Staten. Our opinions are formed by our complex life experiences, our educations, our upbringing, our understanding of scripture, etc. I think that God can be working in the lives of both sides.

I think the important thing in the debates is our behavior: are we loving our Neighbor? and are we humble?