other than depression and horror, how should i, as a christian, feel about the situation in the middle east? sometimes it feels like enough to make phrases that i love, such as love wins! and rescue is coming feel trite and meaningless. how do you explain to people whose entire neighborhood has been levelled that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives? worse still, how do you explain to those same people why so many of those who seem to bear the name of Christ have such enthusiasm for war?

although i should have put two and two together, it took an email in my inbox to wake me up for just a moment. it came from world vision and it reads, in part:

Dear Sponsor,

We value your commitment to sponsoring a child in Lebanon. Your generous, faithful support means so much to this child, family and community.

You’ve probably heard in the media about the renewed hostilities in the region. Our field staff have informed us that your sponsored child’s community is directly affected and responding to families displaced by the fighting. We’re grateful to hear in the latest report that your child is safe — and will do our best to get more information as it becomes available.

we have been supporting a child in lebanon for a couple of years now, but only now is it dawning on me that his family is in imminent danger. while we’ve never visited our sponsor child or anything like that, we have his photograph on our fridge – so we see him everyday. what a hardened heart i have, that it takes putting a face to the conflict for my heart to be genuinely moved.

it saddens and frustrates me that there are those christians who, in their misguided, apocalyptic, left-behind fervor, actually welcome violence and conflict in the middle east. i’m pretty sure jesus had a couple of things to say about his return, and none of it involved lahaye, jenkins or corny, straight-to-video sequels.

sojourners offers a couple of more thoughtful, God-honoring responses we might take toward this conflict:

  • Be consistent in denouncing the violence of both sides – especially when it is deliberately aimed at civilians (or targets where great civilian “collateral damage” will be the result).

  • Pray for the emergence of new political leadership on both sides – both of which seem bereft of creative, courageous, moral, or even pragmatic leadership.

  • Challenge any religious voices that seem utterly one-sided, completely neglecting the suffering and legitimate grievances of both sides.

  • Pray for new ways for Christians and our churches to join our Jewish and Muslim brothers and sisters in finding real and practical solutions for a just peace in the Middle East where two states can live with security and democracy.

  • And pray for better solutions than endless war to solve the real threats of terrorism in our world, because if we fail, all of our children will be at risk.

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