Just recently I was involved in a conversation with a fellow brother in Christ about our beliefs. It became very clear that it stopped from being a dialogue between him and myself, and turned into a tit-for-tat exchange of his people versus my people. I was caught by surprise because i didn't expect him to use this language with me, and i believe we were all from the same group anyways.
To make a short story even shorter, the way I see it, he sees the importance of God’s covenant with the Jewish People as the ultimate truth and whatever they do is basically o.k. because they are God’s people and this is all part of God’s plan to fulfil his promises and eventually come again and we all can have a huge endless party in heaven! So, as a Palestinian (or “Arab” as he sees it), we are a part of the Goyim, i.e. gentiles, and we should acknowledge this truth and stop complaining. Suck it up because eventually we will be allowed into a huge endless party in heaven. What more do you want?
So, my argument back was that I think this is one interpretation of the Bible and so long as it doesn’t cancel my existence, I am fine with his beliefs. However, I cannot fathom how the Palestinian people have been displaced and have suffered so much on the one hand, and then to explain it that it is all for the sake of God’s people (i.e. Jewish people) on the other hand?! These two facts are hard for me to blend together. To me this means that the expropriating of Palestinian land, killing of innocent Palestinians, displacing many others and occupying others is all done by God’s people? If this is God, what message of hope do I have for them? How is this a witness to the Palestinians?
Having said that, i do believe God can turn what man meant for evil into good. God does have a plan for the Jewish people. After all He allowed for them to come and live here. So then i ask, what is God's plan for the Jewish people? Is it to live in fear and victimhood? i don't think so.
And most importantly, this interpretation negates Christ’s message of LOVE for me. Jesus came for the poor, the broken and the hurting, and we need to be an instrument for them. And I went on and on and on…
And then came the labeling. I was given several, and some of them were: focused on feelings in general, focused on living in occupation, focused on injustice and humanism. These are probably the best insults I could ask for! But I think the purpose was to offend me or degrade me in some way. So, I was confused the most about being labelled “humanistic”. What does that mean?
I asked a friend of mine, and she said “The root is humanism which basically is the study of humans and human nature. In simple forms that is just an understanding more of how humans behave and what works well....so humane would come from the same root.” Ok. I see. So by being labelled Humanistic I am being humane? Jesus came on earth to experience what it is to be human.
“I imagine someone is using [the word humanist] to say you are falling into secular humanistic thinking by seeking to help meet people's needs. There really doesn't need to be a divide since God cares about our physical needs since he created them. Usually this charge also comes from someone who is over spiritualizing God's purposes.” So if he meant to call me a secular humanistic thinker does that means I am being too practical with my understanding of my faith? Let's assume her observation is true then: that there are two thinking perspectives.
Let me then try to present a scenario from these two perspectives: a humanistic thinking and a spiritualized thinking. The scenario is meeting with Mahmoud, a refugee from Dehesha camp.
Spiritualized thinking: I must gain this refugee’s soul to Christ! Now is my chance to offer him the message of salvation!
“Mahmoud, do you know that God loves you? He loves you so much that he sent Jesus to the cross to die for your sins and mine (quote from John 3:16)! He loves you so much that he was willing to carry your sins and die instead of you and me? Do you want to live in a place where there is no hate? No lies? No sin? Believe in Jesus today, and your name will be written in the book of life.”
I have given Mahmoud the message. I challenge you to ask yourself what were your motives? Do you genuinely care for Mahmoud's life or you were driven by your guilty conscience?
Humanistic thinking: I want to try to understand Mahmoud’s life more, and I think if Mahmoud knows Jesus, he would be able to cope better with life’s challenges, and most of all he would have a hope to hang onto.
“Mahmoud, I know that life seems unfair and you have been handed a hard life. I cannot understand how it is to lose your home or land and live in a one-room house. All I know is that life is more than what we possess, and this is why I care about you and I want to be your advocate. What happened to you and your family is not fair, and I want to fight for you in the same way Jesus fought for people’s injustices then. I want to fight for you with love and compassion. I hope you see Christ in me.”
My heart is heavy for Mahmoud and his family. My journey for him has just begun.
Let me end by saying a few things for those who have been labelled humanists like myself:
- Take it as a complement.
- Don’t be discouraged.
- If you are being labelled this, then you must be doing something right.
- You are not alone. There are many of us, keep your voice loud and you will find people who believe just the same as you do.
And for those who have labelled others with it. (Though I doubt you have read this far!)
- I know that you label them as such so you don’t have to take what they say seriously!
- I challenge you to take it seriously!
- We have compassion to you too. We believe there is room for you as well - in God’s endless party in heaven and here!
I am thankful for my brother because he challenges me to think and reconsider my beliefs. I can do that with those who don't share the same beliefs, and not with the ones that agree with me. He makes me a better follower.