“We decided to be the Good Samaritan”, explained an Arab pastor to a crowd of Jewish and Arab believers who had gathered for an evening of fellowship and worship on the Mount of Olives last Thursday. They had decided as a church to love the ones they were not supposed to love, according to the world. They had first agreed to look out for online arguments full of hatred, and started to sow seeds of peace wherever they found them. As they posted loving words into the furious facebook fights, they noticed the conversations often started to turn from being vindictive into becoming more kind. “So then”, he explained to the gathering who enjoyed a barbeque as the sun set over Jerusalem, “We decided to take it up a level”…
“We need to live up here!” He insisted, raising his hands to heaven, “Not down here on earth”. This heavenly mindset brought about the radical decision of church members to visit Jewish families in Sderot, near Gaza, who have been under constant rocket fire. They took gifts and toys, and as they sat with one single mother, they explained, “There are Arabs who love you and want to bless you because of Jesus”. She asked, “Who are these Arabs, and where are they?” As her Arab visitor realised she had not understood who was sitting before her, he said, “I’m an Arab!” She was visibly staggered, and later went to a congregation to find out about this Jesus who could make Arabs love the Jewish people.
The evening on the Mount of Olives was a treat as we heard from one another and worshipped the Lord together, but it is not a one-off. On Shabbat, just two days later, several congregations joined together to worship the Lord on the highest point of Mount Carmel. There were Arabs, Russian Jews, Ethiopian Jews, visitors from the Far East, Sudanese refugees, native born Israelis, and more, all gathering as One New Man in the Messiah. A Jewish pastor read Psalm 133 in Hebrew: “Hine ma tov uma nayim shevet achim beyachad!” (“How good and pleasant it is, when brothers dwell in unity!”) and a pastor of an Arab congregation gave the message, calling us all to return to the days of Acts when the believers were united and of one heart and mind, focused on Yeshua. He has worked closely with Jewish pastors before, and said, “Did we always agree on everything? I don’t always agree with my wife!” But he emphasised the need for our lives to revolve around Yeshua, first and foremost, more than anything else.
Let us decide to live “Up There”, not down here, confined by the narrow expectations and patterns of this world. Even now, as the earth rages and fumes, we can choose to live in God’s radical Kingdom reality, and show the world a better way – unity through Yeshua our Messiah.