Epilogue: O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…

Posted: December 20, 2006 in christianity, Israel, jerusalem

It’s been almost a week since I’ve been home and I’ve given myself a little time to let it all sink in and reflect upon my experience. There is no place in the world like Jerusalem, for better or for worse. It’s a city of paradoxes, a city of collided ideologies, a city in which there exists a fragile balance between these ideologies. I have seen with my own eyes how this city exists, and on a smaller level, how the nation of Israel exists. I have seen with my own eyes the extent of interaction and also the lack of interaction among these varying ideologies. There is an unspoken uneasiness in the city, and it can spill over into something much bigger at any given time.

I came to Israel firstly because I felt an urge, or a call, to come and build upon my faith. To see the where and the how can sometimes help with the why. I didn’t come to “find God” but I did come to experience God in a way I hadn’t before. And experience God I did,  in my talks to monks, cab drivers, Beduins, and more personally in my time alone by the Sea of Galilee. Cliche as it may seem I did have a spiritual experience that I will carry with me forever and the memories of who and what I encountered will also remain, just as the image of the vine growing in the desert will. 

I also came because I am looking for the common ground. I consider myself something of a universalist in that I believe God is for everyone, race or creed aside, and that God is much larger than the boxes we put him in called religion. I am a follower and believer in Christ, yet I won’t subscribe to the idea that only those who are Christian in this life will have the blessings of God in the end. I have seen the spirit of God in others enough to know that God is universal, and just as a parent who loves their child will do anything to take care of and bless their child, I believe God in his infinite wisdom and love has a similar plan for us. I believe that for those that seek God, God will find them and meet them where they are at. So I sleep easy at night knowing things are in much more capable hands than mine. 

Another reason I came to Israel was to see with my own eyes the true state of affairs between my Jewish and Muslim brothers. For a long time now I have had the suspicion that the political and social problem between them was not humanly reparable, that the hatred that goes back thousands of years could not be fixed by diplomacy or political processes. I am convinced now more than ever that this is the case. I do not believe the problem can be fixed by human means. The hatred is too old and too ingrained and neither side is really willing to compromise. In the end, only God in God’s timing will be the solution, and unfortunately, I think that things will get much worse before that happens.  

The ironic thing in all of this is that the 3 of us, Jew, Christian, and Muslim, are all waiting for the same thing. Christians are looking for the return of Christ, which I also see as what the Jews are waiting for, the arrival of Meshiach (Messiah). Muslims are also looking for the return of Christ in not too disimilar ways the Christians are. What I see happening in the end is the 3 separate paths converging into one, uniting them all.    

In the end my experience there has opened my eyes in both spiritual and political ways. There is good to be seen there, but there is also alot of bad. I have seen the open and giving spirit of Christ in people and I have seen the exclusive, self-righteous, legalistic Pharisaical spirit as well, and have been on the receiving end of both. As I stood on the Mt. of Olives and looked down on the city of 3 colliding ideologies, where a struggle for primacy is still going on today, the only words that come to mind are the words Christ spoke long ago in the temple, the place where the Dome of the Rock now stands:

Matthew 23:37-39
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”


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