Paul L. Caron

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Christians Can’t Fix The Israel-Hamas War

Christianity Today, Christians Can’t Fix the Israel-Hamas War:

Christianity TodayJesus could end this crisis. His followers almost certainly can’t. ...

We cannot fix this crisis, no matter how faithful, factual, and fervent we are.

This bears saying, I think, for two reasons. One is our modern habit of “awareness,” as in, I am posting this article on Facebook because I want to raise awareness.

On many issues of great import, the reality is most of us can do very little to effect significant change. Sometimes we can give money to a relevant cause. Always we can pray (1 Thess. 5:17) and take care we do not sin in our hearts or our speech as we react to the news (Matt. 5:21–30). But most of us are not scientists who can find a cure for cancer, or politicians who can rewrite American immigration law, or generals who can decide on whom bombs will fall. Our duties to God and neighbor are usually more imminent and mundane, and if God answers our prayers, that is far more God’s work than ours. ...

The other reason is that, as Christians, we rightly have a high opinion of faithfulness and its effects. By faith, God’s people have “administered justice,” “shut the mouths of lions,” and “received back their dead, raised to life again” (Heb. 11). We can be “co-workers in God’s service,” as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, whose faith rests “on God’s power” (1 Cor. 3:9, 2:5). The “prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” James taught, reminding us of the story of Elijah—“a human being, even as we are”—whose earnest prayer led to both famine and plenty (5:16­­–18).

[F]aith is not magic, nor is it a guarantee of a happy ending on this side of eternity. It does not always succeed in protecting us or turning others away from evil. ...

Christian faithfulness also can’t have effect where it does not exist. A recent essay about the Israel-Hamas war at Red Letter Christians ends with an exhortation from a Palestinian Christian peacemaker, who, “when asked what he thinks will contribute most to ending this violence,” said, “When we follow the Jesus we talk about, this crisis will be over.”

The part of me that’s convinced Jesus calls his followers to peacemaking and nonviolence wants to agree, but the realist in me says this simply is not true.

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