One of the commonly encouraged tools for peace in the Israeli/Arab conflict is the concept of giving up land for peace. I lived in Israel during the season in the late 70’s when the Sinai was given up in hopes of delivering secure borders to all Israel. This was followed by a year or so in the northern part of Israel in the early 80’s where the farming community Barbie and I were living on was shelled regularly by Islamic extremist from Lebanon. So in the end, that land for peace trade did not go so well. Later, in 2005, 21 Israeli settlements were given up in the southwestern part of the country near the Gaza strip in hopes of adding good will to the dwindling peace talks. I do not need to list here the attacks initiated by a Islamic extremist in the Gaza strip and the expected retaliation by Israel leading to 100’s of deaths on both sides.
Move this concept into the international community’s efforts to appease the anger of Islam for everything from cartoons and documentaries to capitalism and “loose living”. These efforts come in the “nobel” form of encouraging understanding and acceptance. These efforts go so far as to eliminate Judeo/Christian holidays from being listed on calendars, allowing the construction of a mosque at Ground Zero, allowing Sharia based laws to be practiced in various communities across Europe and North America and winking at horrible injustices, massacres, kidnappings around the globe unless American interest (read oil) is at risk.
Believe it or not, this blog is not political but a spiritual challenge to us all. This same idea of “land for peace” is growing by leaps and bounds in the very walls of the church as it tries to keep current attendees, attract new ones, appeal to the pop culture masses and appease the growing moral and social shifts taking place at breakneck speeds across the world. There is a story in Lamentations 2 of a time when Zion is in disrepair and Israel in rebellion. It was a time when the prophets only paint pretty pictures of life, failed to expose guilt and sermons were filled with only wishful thinking and encouraging words. What had happened was that Israel embraced teachings and practices that fit in better with the surrounding peoples and gave up the “archaic” standards of the Law of God. But instead of the surrounding nations being impressed and welcoming of this “giving up land for peace” initiative they became even more mocking of Israel saying things like “didn’t this used to be the prettiest city and the joy of the whole earth”.
They knew Israel had “thrown in the towel” (compromised) of morality and were trying to fit in with all the other “neighborhoods” in the area. Compromise is often honored in contract negotiations, but not so much when ceding good land for bad results. I’m sure the Amish and Mennonites have their issues, but you rarely hear any complaints against their very conservative practices because they simply don’t seem to bend on their convictions. Billy Graham is one of the most revered men in the world because he never wavered on the doctrine of sin in his sermons, lived a modest lifestyle and was never found in a morally compromising position.
But many modern day ministries have rock star style personalities, lifestyles, worship performances and advertisements which are often indistinguishable from those you might see in Hollywood or a paid concert. You see, although the world probably doesn’t sit around reading the bible, they know enough to know that Jesus led a modest and humble lifestyle and actually ran away from the spot light. Then they see some of the religious personalities and practices today of extravagance in living, dressing, preaching and traveling and they (rightly so) cry foul.
Jesus is the only answer for peace in the Middle East, the global Islamic extremist threat and to embody the time tested benifits of God’s law, humility and never changing standards for His people and leaders. Go everyday into the harvest field with the unchanging Gospel of Salvation.