A wise woman once told me that 'hurt people hurt people', and I've seen this concept played out in multiple arenas of life.
I've seen people hurt by people hurt other people, I've been hurt by these people, and I've hurt people out of my hurt places. I've understood the need to be healed because my hurt was hurting both myself and others.
I also see Jesus—the Prince of Peace—the inspiration for me to look into my small insignificant pains and problems, and find the space to forgive, to look past my own selfish ambition, and forgive. This is a part of the story of faith that I step into as a follower of Christ.
Into the Conflict Zone
I recently went on a trip to Palestine. I knew a small amount about the conflict taking place around some of the most significant holy sites and places instrumental in the story of my faith.
Three of the dominant world religions regard this location as holy, leading to a complicated and confusing conflict. This conflict is deeply historical, theological and political. I was going into this 'conflict zone' wanting more than anything to be open to learn more of the key issues, the history and political situation, and explore ways to move forward.
I found this concept at work: 'hurt people hurt people'. I saw a people group so damaged and hurt from Nazi Germany (I understand the deep inadequacy of the word 'hurt' to describe the pain of the holocaust). I saw this group of hurt people actively hurting another group of people (I acknowledge the deep inadequacy of the word 'hurt' to describe the emotion of the current occupation). I saw war. The pain of occupation. The passionate pursuit of God's purpose. Oppression. Loss. All happening to both nations.
I cannot fully understand the profound complexities of the conflict, or know the deep pain of both sides, but I am a Christian, and I am a theology student, and I believe the Christian faith has something to offer this situation. As someone who studies the Bible, I believe I cannot stay silent.
I want to rebuke those who call themselves 'Christian Zionists'.
I want to rebuke them with the spirit of love and grace shown through Jesus, but in the same spirit, I call them out for what is such a clear travesty done in the name of Jesus.
Like slavery, apartheid, the holocaust, and so many other evils done by, or with the support of Christians, I need to rebuke the evil you are a part of.
I need to rebuke you, because I have seen.
I have sat with a Palestinian man as he told his story. The story of his home being literally being taken over by Israeli settlers. As we talked to this man we saw them inside his house, we heard stories about the violence of these people as they forcibly occupied this man's family home.
I have talked with families in Hebron (The Promised Land in the Old Testament), and heard stories of tear gas being thrown into homes and killing children; of constant intimidation from the Israeli army. I have had rocks thrown at me for visiting the homes of Palestinians.
I have seen massive Israeli settlements on the land of Palestinians.
I have seen houses demolished by a racist system rendering Palestinians second class citizens.
I have heard stories of a broken and racist legal system; a system prosecuting children from a young age; forcing confessions out of young boys with the threat of rape.
I have been inspired by the strength and resilience of the Palestinian people, and had my heart broken by my brothers and sisters in Christ who support such a corrupt Israel.
Yes, I believe Israelis need a home. They need a land and place where they can live in peace, without threat. Yes, but not at the expense of others. Not at the cost of oppressing an entire people group. Not at the cost of theft and displacement of Palestinian land.
The voice of Christianity within this situation has predominantly come from the US and Canada, with the US giving 1 million dollars per day to Israel. They do this in response to a belief that the Bible teaches Israel will return to the Holy Land. They see the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 in accordance with biblical prophecy.
This belief has been worked out in a way that violates the words and actions of Jesus, 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the Children of God'. We must approach any theological issue through the lens of Jesus. We must put Jesus at the centre of any debate or theological understanding, when we do this our outcome will drastically change.
'Hurt people hurt people'—this is a fact of life. Christians have the opportunity to be the voice of reconciliation and peace within this heart-breaking situation. As Christians we must be voices for peace and reconciliation within a broken and hurting system.
If we don't combat this violence with peace, we will only see more violence in this hurting land. When we approach any issue, especially the Holy Land, we must do this through the context of Jesus, remembering his most famous sermon:
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure of heart,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Tim Shallard a co-director of Mosaic Workshop a shared creative space in central Auckland. He also works in a café, studies theology at Carey Baptist College and runs poetry collective. His passions include coffee, community, and people living the dream.
Tim Shallard's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-shallard.html