Diversity: Between Apocalyptics and Advocates
As Christians, we believe that as a community we should get along, yet at times we fail at implementing this ideal. On a collective scale, there are significant differences between the Messianic Jewish community and the Palestinian Evangelical community regarding how we view peace and how we put it into practice. Of course this is a generalization and there are individuals who think differently than the majority, but collectively, we are moving in distinctly opposite directions.
Group 1 (The Apocalyptics): This first group consists of mostly Messianic Jews and a few Palestinian Evangelicals who believe that peace is not a viable possibility on earth because it is not achievable. They believe that people are doomed to destruction until an ultimate end-of-the-world war. Only after such a war, peace will come. At this point, we will all be in heaven or in hell based on our faith, i.e., believers vs. sinners. Peace on earth is simply a personal individual state, and active evangelism is a a way of achieving this. Communal peace on earth must wait for some future redemption.
Group 2 (The Advocates): This second group consists of more Palestinian Evangelicals and a few Messianic Jews who believe that it is their duty as followers of Christ to be advocates for peace in all its forms, including a political peace between Israelis and Palestinians. This group also believes that their salvation and redemption should be reflected in their actions on earth as well as in heaven, and achieving peace on earth is an opportunity to do so. The afterlife and this life are connected and Christians should strive for political, economic, inner and any other form of peace.
Of course, there are some Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians that fall somewhere in the middle or stand undecided; at the same time, many fall into one of these two categories. It is obvious that these two groups are on opposing sides regarding their responsibility and agency in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. While the freedom to form various interpretations and apply them to one's context is healthy, the way some members of these two groups engage with one another is unhealthy. Personal attacks and harming one’s financial income is not a Christian way of engaging, and to some degree one can say that doing so more closely resembles enemies than brothers and sisters in Christ.
When you or your community are on the receiving end of such hostility, it becomes a great challenge not to react. But this is the very time to use our faith and show grace to others. As a Christian, I am supposed to embrace both enemies and brothers alike. Even when someone speaks against me, I can learn to embrace them as my brothers and sisters.
I do see the advantages of diversity; while it makes life harder, it also sharpens my beliefs. Only those who are different than me have the capability to challenge me more than those who are similar to me. Nonetheless, the political power that those opposed to me wield can sometimes make the process of loving them unbearable .
When we engage in such hostilities, we behave the same as the rest of Palestinian and Israeli society. Sometimes you feel like the people of God seem defeated and we are not different than the world...