The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Who Is My Neighbor? (The True Church Loves All Men Equally)

A Palestinian man carries a wounded child in Gaza

The Good Samaritan

Click here to read Luke 10:25-37.

The lawyer who asked Jesus the question already knew the law–love God, and love your neighbor as yourself. But he sought to justify himself, and therefore he asked the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Obviously, this man had hatred in his heart for certain people. Feeling convicted by God’s command to love his neighbor, perhaps he was hoping Jesus would relieve him of responsibility thusly–”Not the Romans, nor the Samaritans, or any other Gentiles. Only the Jews are your neighbor. Love them and you will live.”

But that’s not what Jesus answered. Instead, He turned the question on its head, and presented a man, wounded and stripped of his clothes and likely unconscious. Two Jews of the highest religious orders saw him and pretended not to see. A Samaritan had compassion and went completely out of his way to heal the suffering man. It’s interesting that Jesus never revealed whether the victim was Jewish or Gentile. It was probably impossible to tell. The victim is simply presented as a suffering human being. Then Jesus asked that wonderful, probing question–”Which of these three men was a neighbor?”

So the question is not “which of the earth’s humans is my neighbor?” but “Am I going to be a neighbor to the earth’s humans?” And the definition of a neighbor, as given by the lawyer and uncorrected by Jesus, is “one who shows mercy.”

The heart of God is not racial or international segregation. The heart of God is love for all people, and He wants His love to be in the hearts of all people. The final picture of redemption is one of people from all nations worshiping Him together. Paul taught the equality of Jew and Gentile in Christ, a teaching for which he was hated by his Jewish contemporaries.

Jesus’ teaching on the Good Samaritan makes distinctions between races totally irrelevant to a disciple. Once you get this teaching deeply into your heart, the separations men have erected are seen for what they are–pride, a means to glorify themselves, an excuse for hatred, and a justification for oppression.

Disciples of Jesus, it no longer matters what other peoples have done to your people. It no longer matters what your people’s general opinion of other people is. It only matters that you are willing to help any person who needs help. This is the heart God approves.

Dehumanization and Prejudice in the Human Family

I have read testimonies of American soldiers who admit that they were taught to view the people of an invaded nation (often Arabs) as non-humans. This is no different than the propaganda Hitler used to turn the German people against Jews, calling them “rats” and “subhuman.” In the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, the Hutus called the Tutsis “cockroaches” to justify their slaughter. Blacks and Native Americans have been called animals and devils by Americans who wished to subjugate (and sometimes kill) them while still appearing righteous. And today, little unborn babies in the womb are called everything but human–”a blob of tissue” etc., in an effort to excuse their murders. Everywhere on earth that men seek to justify themselves for aggression against others, the de-humanization of “the enemy”–whoever that enemy is–is likely.

The Dehumanization of Arabs and Muslims

There is something in the western church that deeply disturbs me. Of course, the racist teachings of dispensationalism and zionism are false, and I’ve done my best to expose them. But added to these is the disgust amongst Christians for Arab people in general, and Muslims in particular. Zionism is one contributing reason for it. Another contributor is probably the idolatrous leaven of patriotism which is in most churches. It’s pretty hard to sing the praises of your own people without also adopting the self-righteous snobbery toward other people that goes along with it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard professing Christians describe Arab people as soulless animals, in so many words. They relish describing how vicious these people are, and how they rape, kill and torture everyone who is different from them, and how we simply MUST not let this scenario come to our streets (exposing their real problem–fear and love of self).

I know there have been, and continue to be, acts of satanic violence committed in the name of Allah. I have no problem with exposing that truth, provided we also expose other truths which are just as despicable. Every false religion on earth leaves a trail of tears, including the false form of Christianity which inspired the Crusades and the Inquisition, and I fear, is still inspiring violence today through the so-called “Christian right.”

I know that persecution of Christians in all the world is increasing, and Muslims are one of the chief persecutors of Christians. I am not blind to this, and my heart is for my brethren in Christ. But I also acknowledge that my duty is not to decide who among men is worthy of my compassion; my duty is to be compassionate to all. My duty is to remember the Good Samaritan, and “go and do likewise.” I have counted the cost of having mercy, and I deem it worth any risk because I know how God’s mercy has changed me. That the meek shall inherit the earth is no hollow pleasantry to me; it is an undeniable truth which I believe by faith. Whether I live or die, I know that meekness is my only option, and that my reward is sure.

Jesus sent us out as sheep among wolves, and told us to be wise as serpents and “harmless as doves.” I took in an injured dove once. The poor thing was obviously terrified of me, but I could handle her in any manner I wished, and she would do nothing in self-defense. My heart was stirred as I remembered Jesus’ words.

More Thoughts about Christian Attitude toward Muslims

In the patriotic, nationalistic “church” (which I refuse to be part of), it is often proudly said that if anyone takes our guns or our property, we must fight for “our rights.” That “Christians” would take up arms and inflict violence on others is deemed the only acceptable response to oppression. Any other response, they say, is a “lack of love” for our families, neighbors, etc. Obviously the Good Samaritan story, and God’s definition of “neighbor,” isn’t even considered. There are none so blind as those who nullify what is written in God’s Word, that they may keep their traditions.

But such selfish “Christians” expose their own hypocrisy. They, who are supposed to have a living hope in Christ, have no intention of reacting to oppression or occupation without violence. They even premeditate what they will do if they are ever threatened. Yet they expect oppressed Palestinians in occupied territories in Gaza to do nothing to free their people from the apartheid regime under which they have suffered for years. Am I saying Palestinians should rebel or do violence? Of course not; I am a follower of Jesus, and my heart is for all men to be harmless Christians pursuing peace even to their own hurt. But it is the height of hypocrisy to expect Muslims (who have no living hope) to be more charitable and forgiving than Christians are willing to be!

Furthermore, the lack of compassion for these lost people is chilling to me.

A Christian recently shared, on a social site, a video of Palestinian children screaming at Israeli soldiers. When I put up another video of Israelis surrounding a Palestinian car and chanting, “Death to Arabs! Your mother is a whore!” to encourage her to consider that there was evil on both sides, the video was removed. When I asked if we weren’t all like those Palestinian children before we were saved, I was told by this woman that she never acted that way even before she was saved. “God, I thank you that I am not like other men.” (Lk. 18:9-14)

This little interaction serves as a snapshot of what is occurring in the wider American church due to its adoption of false doctrines and elitist attitudes. But I fear that America has a terrible humbling coming. Her pride will be brought down, and her false religious teachers will be exposed and judged for leading God’s people to worship the beast of human power. God will judge the American church for willingly taking part in the oppression of others, and refusing to see human beings everywhere as viable recipients of His mercy.

Hard Hearts and Repentance

Last night I spent some time looking at snapshots of the injured and killed Palestinian children in “Operation Protective Edge.” I think about the American church watching television, shopping, living life, maybe mentioning the Mideast conflict with a concern for Israel, but probably not so much for the Arabs. Does the church care about these people, or are they just a puzzle piece in their favorite end times belief?  I too have lived carelessly at times, too busy and too unaware.  It really doesn’t touch us here, does it, unless we go and grab hold of it, forcing ourselves to be touched. Surrounded by the good life and bolstered by the deception that we have a “manifest destiny” that sets us apart from others, we cannot feel the grief of a father whose child is in pieces. That is, we can’t feel it unless we are intentional.

When God convicted me of disobeying His call to minister outside abortion clinics, I knew what I had to do. I had to tenderize my hardened heart–a heart which had allowed me to live peacefully alongside the most heinous of crimes against the innocent, committed daily only 20 minutes from my house. We speak against abortion in this nation with words, but we rarely feel. The holocaust of humans is an idea that sparks a measure of passion, but until we see our own child in pieces, we don’t understand it. I spent a long time looking at the mutilated bodies of unborn children the night before I went to the street. I looked until I could cry. You might think that is pretty morbid, but I needed it, just like Germans needed to be shown the pictures of the Jews whose plight they had ignored.

I daresay that western Christians need to familiarize themselves with the sufferings of people all over the globe before they so foolishly say things like, “Of course God will rapture us before the tribulation. He wouldn’t allow His bride to suffer, would He?” Or “Arabs aren’t human. They need to be destroyed.” I’m sorry, but the true Bride has been suffering for centuries because of her love for her Lord. And the Gazans I saw weeping and injured in photos were very much human. The child that was missing the back of his head was human, and the father whose tears were falling on his dead face was human. The people crying for Allah to save them are human. Deceived, yes, but they are human!

Let us stop being so obtuse and so hard-hearted, and ask God for repentance, that we can go and be the compassionate Samaritans He is looking for. The world is full of the wounded. Yes, they are sinners. Will you self-righteously say, “Serves them right” and shut your eyes to their suffering, or will you get on your knees and begin pouring oil and wine into their wounds?

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