A few years ago I was sitting in a room where my Palestinian Christian friend was speaking. At the beginning of his speech he said, “look at me. Do you see me?”
Everyone in the room knew exactly what he was saying. Mind you, this was in the United States. So when he said “do you see me?” He was implying that we have curated an image of Arabic kids that allowed us to justify our inability to see the image of God in them.
It helps us to live with the idea that kids in Iraq deserve to die in a war that has practically been ruled as unjust by every credible, global-political analyst. It helps us keep our Christianity nice and neat —not having to deal with some of the world’s difficult questions. Like the complicated relationship between Israel and Palestine.
“Do you see me?”
It is with this question that I want to touch your nerve, just for a moment, on our nation’s decision to put an embassy in Jerusalem, Israel. Not Tel Aviv, but Jerusalem.
Now I am a Christian but I’m also 40, so I am grown. This means that I have given myself permission to make and stand by certain choices. And with that, I want to be clear that it is important for the Malawian Presidential office to move into Israel, but it is unwise for us as a nation to lose our prophetic voice by prioritizing our flourishing against the flourishing of brown kids in Palestine — which the Jerusalem move will clearly entail.
Now let’s get to the theological bit. There are three primary ways of looking at Israel both currently and eschatologically. The first is to look at current state of Israel as the Israel of the Old Testament and therefore the only nation God loves at the expense of all other nations. That’s a bit of historical generalization of course but stay with me.
The second is to look at Israel as the holder of the oracles of God, oracles that were talking about His love for all people and all nations in the first place. If we look through this prism then we see that God’s story was always aiming Him expressing His love to all of His children, all His creation.
And the last, of course, is to say that the Israel of the Old Testament does not matter at all. Which is to say “yeah, God did all of that but in Jesus He started a brand new project that is not connected to the former one. “
My proposal is that for a moment we should consider that all are God’s children and that God in Jesus shows us a clear need to love all of His children and even to give preferential treatment to the poor and marginalized.
If you do that, you will definitely have a bit of pause of spirit before you start to celebrate your landing in Jerusalem which basically is siding with the power and might of the United States.
All people are created in the image of God. And God Himself in the flesh, in the person of Jesus, said to not just love God but to love God’s other children. And in the whole sermon on the mount (The best speech ever given), He says to stand with those that are marginalized.
In this case, I see children in occupied Palestine as demanding of our theological attention even as we look to do business with power around the world.
I write these things less to persuade you about what to think but more to demonstrate that here, thinking is not only necessary but also critical because believe it or not, here we have shown our cards in one of the world’s most tender conflicts.
To use a football metaphor, we have taken sides in a Barcelona versus Real Madrid debate and in this, everyone in the world has a side.
Let’s discuss this at Bible study this week.
Your Resident Public Theologian
Noel Noxy Musicha