The Choice is Yours
By Neveen Bader
The ongoing conflict in Israel, characterized by historical tensions between Arabs and Jews, often finds its way into the body of Christ, influencing individuals’ diverse political and theological views. The effects of the conflict are even more evident among Arab and Jewish believers in Yeshua as they respond to the challenges they face.
However, on October 7th, we woke up to a completely different reality, to violent and painful scenes unlike anything we had ever witnessed before.
This is not a war between Jews and Arabs or Israelis and Palestinians. It is a war between light and darkness and life and death. It is part of Satan’s schemes to steal, kill, and destroy. (John 10:10)
And, we see one of the damages in the body of Christ through the broken relationships among Jewish and Arab believers. It has only led to disappointment and a lack of trust.
As an Israeli-Arab, I saw the pain and brokenness on the Israeli side, and at the same time, I saw suffering and hurt on the Palestinian side. I was overwhelmed by what I heard and saw, even within my community, I did not feel that others understood me or that there was a place for my pain. It took me a month to process what was happening. In our community, we are Jews, Arabs, and all followers of YESHUA. We come from diverse backgrounds with different histories. And, the scenes from this war, took each of us back to our painful family histories. Honestly, at the start of the war, I thought about leaving the community or taking a break as I needed to settle the debate.
I had a few questions in my mind: First, what’s important to me? What will last eternally in this situation? And when Jesus returns, how will He relate to what happened? Is it to be right or to win the discussion and prove my case?!
The common ground on which we built our relationships is Jesus Christ and what He did for us on the cross. In our community, we have core values, and one of them is living in the light (I John 1:7). We share with each other what is happening in our lives. We speak openly about our challenges and victories. Another one of our core values is we do not get hurt. I know that the other loves me and I do not believe that the other is against me (Romans 12:21).
The moment we sat as a community and spoke openly about the situation, I could hear God speaking to my heart that all our deeds, ministry, money, and even our gifts will fade away and the only thing that will last forever is our love for one other. And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love (I Corinthians 13).
There are other times when Paul encourages the believing communities to increase their love for one another (I Thessalonians 3:12).
Despite our different theological approaches and different political views, we need to focus on Jesus the only one who unites us. It is through Him that we can draw closer to God and each other. It is not easy to let go of our opinions and what we think is right and make God and our relationships with our brothers and sisters a priority. He reconciled us with the Father and with each other, He is our peace.
“For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility”. – Ephesians 2:14-16
We should put all our efforts into extending the Kingdom of God rather than taking political sides (II Timothy 2:23-24).
Even during this war, our hearts desire to see more Palestinians and Jews come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved (I Timothy 2:4) and this is the real victory.
Jews and Arabs are God’s children, with different callings within the Kingdom but equal in value in God’s eyes. We are all invited to the same wedding supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:9)
This will not be the last war or the worst. The question is how will we endure these hard things? At the end of it, will we reflect the image of Jesus even more? Will we be divided, full of hatred and anger, or full of love for each other?
I believe that once Jewish and Arab believers in Israel love each other and focus on eternal things this will bring healing to the whole Middle East.
“By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35).