Anyone who has read this blog over the past year knows I have a great deal of respect and admiration for Bob Roberts. His book, Glocalization, blew my paradigm. Bob has just gotten back from Israel on vacation. While there, he was able to meet with Palestinian pastors. Yes, they do exist!
A couple of items from his post (in all cases, emphasis mine):
They love God, they are evangelical, they were born in different parts of Israel and the West Bank, their families have been there for centuries and millinias and they are the most effective representation and the best hope of Jesus Christ in that part of the world today. My meetings with them were beyond incredible. They have suffered rejection, abandonment, and isolation for one simple reason – they were born Palestinians. One leading evangelical who met with them a couple of years back was happy they were Christians but at the conclusion of the meeting told them they needed to move to Jordan or somewhere else. How absurd and utterly ignorant of the Great Commission and God’s call for all peoples.
One of the pastors told me, “We are the only nationality in the history of Christianity where other Christians have told us we should leave and are the obstacle to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Instead, they would rather work with non-believers who have rejected Christ who are not involved in the Great Commission instead of working with us.”
There are some Muslims that have made life difficult for them, there are some Israeli’s that have made life difficult for them. But the greatest rejection and most painful of all has been that of their Christian brothers from the church in the West. It’s not just rejection though – it’s oblivion – most in the West don’t realize that there is a growing and and emerging church in the West Bank, despite all the thousands of Palestinian Christians that have come west.
The statement below really hits home with because of how we’re trying to plant churches in Delaware. I find this mentality to be so true among people in the Bible Belt, and to some degree, even people here in Maryland/Delaware. We are a church of 50-70 trying to saturate our state with the message of Christ by planting churches. We planted one church last year, but would have planted three if had one assessed planter not backed out and another hispanic planter not chosen another location.
Why is that churches who run 200-1000 find it so hard to multiply themselves? Pastors are too territorial, and just want to build their own kingdom. The way we define success drives that mentality. Or they don’t trust God. Or they don’t really want to reach the world or see His kingdom grow. Yeah, I may be kicking some folks in the gut, but guys it’s time to stop worrying Aunt Edna’s ingrown toenail and start kicking on Satan by knocking down the gates of hell with the movement of the church. Bob says,
Here in the US I¢â‚¬â„¢m always told, when our church gets bigger and we have more money then we¢â‚¬â„¢ll start churches and start engaging. I¢â‚¬â„¢m glad they don¢â‚¬â„¢t talk that way or believe that – they wouldn¢â‚¬â„¢t be doing all the things they¢â‚¬â„¢re doing now.
And finally, the most controversial of his thoughts, and one that I as well agree with, is:
I always talk about lessons from the church in the East – this is where we in the West have it really wrong – our failure to recognize and connect deeply with believers in the West Bank. We¢â‚¬â„¢re still trying to drive foreign policy through speculative theology. I don¢â‚¬â„¢t know how Jesus will return, I do know he¢â‚¬â„¢s called all of us to share the good news of who he is and to serve others. I don¢â‚¬â„¢t know when he will return, I do know what he¢â‚¬â„¢s called all of us to do until he comes. We have traded the Great Commission for the sake of an eschatological foreign policy – Jesus told Peter to put down his sword – he put the ear back on the soldier – he is about an eternal kingdom. He will come at the behest of the father, not the contrivings of religious power brokers trying to play global politics.
This is a mentality we must change, and must look past.