As someone living in Israel I am used to the strong presence of the term “peace” in the public and private arena. It has always been popular for Israeli and Palestinian politicians to claim that they are supporters of peace. The same applies to regular citizens. Nobody wants to be labelled as a supporter of war. However, this claim is tested when particular plans for peace are put on the table and when a war starts- like the one we are witnessing now between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The recent war shows that this is frequently just a lip service.
People who claim to be peace lovers in ordinary times become real when rockets and missiles fall in their back yard. They become filled with hatred and racism.
The virtual space of Facebook and Twitter have moved one’s own and private thoughts to the public eyes. In the near past, a person would share his/her hateful thoughts against the enemy on a cup of coffee in the home’s living room. Today it is shared in the semi- public domain on Facebook for everybody to read and filling the atmosphere with filth and dirt.
Without generalizing but it seems that Christian stands of local believers from both sides of the conflict and from Christians around the world do not seem to be much different. Unfortunately – a large number are sucked into the cycle of violence and animosity
I hereby am not calling for a particular political stand but I would like to remind of the central place that the Bible put for the term “Peace”.
Jesus is called the prince of peace (Is 9:6) as well as the reconciler (2 Co 5:18). On the other hand, we are called to be His imitators (Eph 5:1, 1 John 2:6). So the conclusion from the above is that we are asked to be peace makers and reconcilers in order to truly be His children.
If anyone missed this natural and obvious conclusion- Jesus puts it explicitly: “Blessed are the peace makers” (Matt 5:9).
I will hereby share few angles to a possible role of a true peace maker according to the heart of God in relation to the war going on in Israel/Palestine?
1- Jesus Himself is our model for peace. He abolished hostility by bringing reconciliation between heaven and earth on and through the cross.
It was man that sinned against God and deserved eternal death. Through amazing eternal love, Jesus reconciled with this enemy. It required incredible humility and sacrifice.
Do we have those traits with the other side of the conflict? Are we looking down to the other side? Do we see them as humans created in the image of God?
2- Peace is not an isolated term that stands on its own. It comes hand in hand with justice as was manifested in the cross (Ps 85:10).
Justice requires firstly knowing the facts. That means having the full picture. This requires courage to hear the other side in order to see their point of view.
Despite the importance of collecting the facts there needs to be another leap before being able to discern where Justice stands. It is that of applying the Golden Rule: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them (Matt 7:12).
Israelis have to put themselves in the place of the Palestinians in Gaza who live in a huge prison with no hope and eventually nothing to lose. Palestinians have to put themselves in the place of the Israelis to understand their fears and challenges.
3- Christ-like use of words: The Bible warns believers from the misuse of the tongue and resembles it to a fire that can burn a whole forest (James 3: 5) .On the other hand-a peace maker uses his tongue for blessing of others (v.9-10).
Christian believers should therefore use their words to promote understanding and forgiveness and not to stir the fire of the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis.
There is no way to avoid it: If the Christian believers really want to obey their master, they should not just be praying “thy kingdom come” but truly pursuing it- even between Israel and the Palestinians.