You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ tag.

The Heart of the Matter

Its seems patently obvious to me that colonialism is something that must be resisted, in practice and in theory, by anyone truly concerned with human rights and human dignity. The act of any nation entering into lands, not previously lived in by the peoples of those nations, and claiming them as their own and in the process dispossessing those who  previously lived there, is obviously reprehensible. We know this by the simple fact that we would not like this being done to us. Rabbi Hillel (1st century BC) tells us that

“That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbour. That is the whole Torah.”

And Jesus reminds us that:

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)

I can’t think of anyone who would not cry “injustice” if they were to be dispossessed from the land they had chosen to live in by people from another land.

Colonialism is not mere immigration. It is the act of taking for yourself that which is not yours. It is theft. It is an act of theft that verges on the act of murder as it places people’s very existence at risk.

While those who protest against asylum seekers coming to this country stir up fear in our community, they are very often the ones who say they cannot understand why some Aboriginals want to burn the Australian flag. They can’t understand why Aboriginals are upset over the history of land theft, dispossession and murder that they suffered at the hands of British colonialism. A history not properly acknowledged by vast numbers of Australians of non-Aboriginal heritage. These non-Aboriginal people would have no problem with the idea of burning the Japanese flag if Australia had been conquered and colonised by Japan during World War 2.

Apparently Aboriginal Australians should be thankful that they were colonised by the British rather than some “barbaric” nation.

Well, I guess a woman who gets raped by someone wearing a condom is possibly better off than a woman who has been raped by someone not “civilised” enough to use a prophylactic, but that is really not the point.

Some slave owners in America’s southern states did not abuse their slaves as others did but that is not the point either. The immorality and evil that slavery was and is, is not reduced by the fact that some slave owners were more humane than others.

 Just imagine if an allegedly repentant rapist entreated his victim to forgive him and “get over it”, based on an argument that he deserves to be forgiven since he used a condom unlike other barbarians!  One would be forgiven for thinking  that this type of argument is not made in a true spirit of repentance and reconciliation.

As Christians, we recognise that the Gospel is a Gospel of reconciliation, not colonisation. If we seek reconciliation with others we will have no time for arguments like the ones used to justify British colonialism by non-Aboriginal Australians.

Christians recognise that God has reconciled us to Himself and hence we seek to live in reconciliation with others. This is the primary role of Christians in the world.

While others are first or even second, to go to or call for war, Christians should be the last, if ever, to do such things. When Christian Zionists are the first to call for war, we know that something is deeply wrong. If we have a theology that tells us that a certain people group are simply beyond reason and deserve nothing but destruction, we have entirely missed the very essence of the Gospel.

Christian Zionist dogma, proclaiming that Arabs, be they Muslim or otherwise, are in such a state of reprobation that we should not even attempt to try and see things from their perspective, is demonic heresy. Such mean spirited self righteousness betrays attitudes not inspired by the mercy of God to sinners.

And invoking images of the Nazis every time we speak of reconciliation with those who have deep grievances with the west is likewise dishonest and not in keeping with the Gospel of Christ.

Our mission as peace makers, not just peace lovers, is not abrogated by our eschatology. If it is, then our eschatology is wrong, not our mission of reconciliation. If the cause of reconciliation suffers the temporary setback of war, then we can only let this unfortunate occurrence inspire us to greater efforts in the future. Negativity and fatalism concerning the hope for a better future is not a fruit of the spirit.

Even many Christians, who are critical of the state of Israel, still go off on a tangent when discussing the rights of Palestinians and usually it concerns some idea about prophecy, the end times and the Zionist states roll in all of this.

My point is that such arguments are irrelevant when talking about our commitment to human rights, dignity and equality for Arabs and Jews. I would not remotely care if anyone could prove to me, beyond doubt, that the Zionist State of Israel is an unambiguous portent of the return of Christ. The belief that Israel is such a portent does not affect in the slightest whether or not we should be pursuing the cause of justice, peace, and equality for all in the Holy Land.

Jesus calls us to be ready for His return by ensuring that we are doing what we are called to upon his return. What we are called to do does not depend on how close we think we are to His return. Claims that Christs return is near should not affect our view of our neighbour and how we treat him. We would not want others to treat us poorly based on their understanding of prophecy or destiny and so we should not do that to them.


A True Prophet of God and Lover of Israel.

Recently I saw a dedication to the late Christian Zionist evangelical, Derek Prince, on the front pages of a book by a Mega-Church evangelical leader in the U.S. The dedication named Derek Prince as “a lover of Israel”. Prince died in Jerusalem in 2003.

Many hundreds of years earlier, another man, the prophet Jeremiah, would die and leave a legacy of what a “true man of God and lover of Israel” really looks like. It suffices to say that apart from two legs, two arms and a head (and other genetically transmitted features of the human species), the similarities between the two men (particularly with regard to their theology, understanding of Jewishness and the land of Israel) are virtually non-existent.

Christian Zionists, like the late Derek Prince, would never dare to criticise the Zionist State of Israel (unless the Zionists decide to allow the creation of a Palestinian state), while Jeremiah castigated the leadership of Israel more than any of the prophets of old. Yet few would doubt that no prophet of the Old Testament ever loved the Jewish people more passionately than Jeremiah. Jeremiah was in a state of constant turmoil over his fellow Jews lack of desire to fulfill the covenantal responsibilities that they must uphold in the land or be sent in to exile. Christian Zionists could care less. I have never once heard a Christian Zionist speak of the danger of a Secular Zionist State being cast into exile because of its lack of desire to place the Torah at the centre of Jewish life in Israel. The Zionists can ignore the ethical and religious traditions of the Torah (particularly with respect to the treatment of non-Jews living in Israel) with impunity, according to Christan Zionism. Jeremiah would have run out of garments to tare from his body in anguish and dust and ashes to throw upon himself and into the air in grief had he been alive to see his beloved people living in a Zionist State.

Jeremiah spoke the truth of God to the people of Israel regardless of the popularity of his message among the leaders of Israel. The truth has authority regardless of who speaks it. At the time of the First Temple in Israel, Jeremiah pleaded with the now infamous Jews of his time, (later to become heroes in the eyes of the Zionists), who, Jewish tradition tells us, refused to surrender to the armies of Nebuchadnezzar in the face of certain defeat, to lay down their arms thereby ensuring the safety of countless Jewish lives even though the city of Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed. Jeremiah was labeled a traitor and his word rejected, resulting in not only the destruction of the Temple, but almost the entire Jewish population of Israel as well, according to the punishment from God for not surrendering that scripture reveals.

The traditions of the military forces of Zionist Israel, the I.D.F., who celebrate the Jewish rebellion at Masada, would no doubt regard the attitudes of Jeremiah as treasonous. For Jeremiah, obedience to God trumped occupation of the land. Disobedience to God in the land of Israel by the Jewish people could never be condoned or ignored by any of the prophets God sent to Israel in the Old Testament. Prophets were not sent because only they had the right to criticise Israel, but were sent because the Jewish leaders and citizens of Israel had failed to hear the prophetic word of God as revealed in the law already available to them in the Torah.

A popular habit of evangelical Christians is to reflect on “What would Jesus do?” when confronted with difficult ethical situations. I hardly think Jesus attitude would be greatly divergent from that of Jeremiah in the case of Zionist Israel. The privilege of being God’s people can not be separated from the heightened responsibilities that are at the very core of the covenant of the land that God made with the Jewish people to remain in the land of Israel. Orthodox religious Jews remind us that Zionism’s rejection of those responsibilities will mean exile as God’s character demands if the type of repentance that Jeremiah called for from his people in his time is not forthcoming from Israel today.

Craig Nielsen

Israel-Palestine: A Christian Response to the Conflict

Order My Book

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 83 other subscribers

Share this page

Bookmark and Share
May 2023