Friday, July 28, 2006

"... a part of the church's heart that I had thought dead."

Ephesians 4:29-32
" Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. NIV
I am feeling very optimistic about the church right now, and it's because of a series of articles in Christianity Today. (Hat tip to Sojourner's blog).

The Middle East's Death Wish—and Ours, by David Gushee, professor at Union University.

Another Point of View: Evangelical Blindness on Lebanon, by Martin Accad, academic dean of the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Beirut.

We Risk Not Just Suffering, But Annihilation, again by David Gushee, is a conciliatory reply.

Who Is My Neighbor' in the Lebanon-Israel Conflict?by Accad, is hisconciliatory reply.

I am happy because the knee-jerk mockery of suffering that has characterized too much of the church was aired. Like Accad, I too "... have more hope, because I have discovered life in a part of the church's heart that I had thought dead." Gushee had written a piece that didn't do anything to challenge American indifference to the suffering caused at our hands, and mainly encouraged us to fear Iran. Accad's rebuttal and admonition states:
"Gushee wrote, '... Israel responds with massive (sometimes disproportionate) force; civilians get killed accidentally along with intended militants.'
'Sometimes disproportionate'?! Talk about an understatement to describe a one-week—and still going—machine of annihilation that has destroyed in days what had taken 15 years of reconstruction. Civilians "killed accidentally"?! Explain that to the young mother squatting right now at my parents' home in Lebanon, having just heard her husband was torn into pieces by an Israeli bomb as he was carrying out civil relief in villages of South Lebanon! But of course these civilians were at fault, since they had been warned by Israeli flyers to evacuate their villages the previous night. But to go where? To my father's living room?! They are welcome, but it's getting really full.
I believe it's healthy for the church when Christians can challenge and "stir one another up to love and good works," when the ugly stuff can be brought out of the closet and laid on the table. I'm delighted that by the end of the exchange, there is a change of heart. That the two can each clarify their own positions so that they don't seem so quite far off, and call each other "brother in Christ," makes me happy. I believe it is exactly what Ephesians is talking about above. Praise be to God!

I would hereby strongly encourage folks to make pray for the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon, where Accad teaches. Their website offers pointers to helping refugees through the Middle East Bible Outreach, which has a donations page with Paypal links. I am going to send a little bit of money. I would encourage you to do so as well.

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