In a previous post, I implored Christians to cease and desist in guessing about the events leading up to the end times. Part of the reason I wanted to address that crowd is because I used to be among them.
I was a big fan of the Left Behind series. I was intrigued by circumstances surrounding Israel and believed that it was God’s will not only for them to return to their land but for the modern state to refuse to trade any portion of it for peace with the Palestinians and Arabs.
And I’m writing this post today because, looking back, I can see that this theology directly led to my hating the Arabs and Palestinians. I wouldn’t have put it like that back then, of course. I was just following God’s will as “clearly laid out” in the Bible.
But the truth is, my persistence in standing by Israel, no matter what, meant that I had to stop looking at the Palestinians as people who are living under oppressed conditions.
I couldn’t see the Arabs’ overtures for peace as anything other than a devilish trick designed to lure Israel to her final destruction.
No, the descendants of Ishmael were little more than pawns in a cosmic game that the church couldn’t afford to lose by giving Israel anything less than its unconditional support.
And while I would have acknowledged that God loves Arabs, I couldn’t with honesty say that I did.
To me, they weren’t people. They were actors.
When Palestinian civilians were killed because the Israeli military squared off with Hamas in a populated area, I might have thought it was sad even though it was necessary.
Because that was God’s plan.
And while you might be saddened that Palestinians had to die, you shouldn’t argue against Israel because they were only protecting themselves and you wouldn’t want to mess with God, would you?
But now I see that I was messing with God. I was poking Christ in the eye.
By refusing to call out injustice, I wasn’t taking Him seriously. By ignoring the cries of people who were suffering because of this decades’ old conflict, I wasn’t in any way, shape, or form doing what Jesus would have each of us do.
I wasn’t loving the people Jesus loved.
I was instead following the lead of false prophets like Tim LaHaye. It was their kind of theology that taught that the Antichrist would deceive the world by making peace, so overtures at peace are to be regarded with skepticism. (Apparently Jesus was mistaken when he said that the peacemakers were blessed.)
This theology wasn’t Christ-centered or biblical. It’s a poisoned well from which we encourage the rest of the world to drink.
So among many other things, here’s what I’ve learned:
Any theology that makes you look at people as less than people isn’t a theology that cares about Christ.