|A place, planet earth (not Jerusalem)|
|A different place, planet earth (not Jerusalem either)|
|Yet another place, planet earth (still not Jerusalem)|
Netanyahu was positively gleeful as he thanked Donald Trump for American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel.
His demeanour didn’t match that of most world leaders responding to the event; the fear of hostilities and armed clashes, potentially unleashed by Trump’s declaration, was palpable.
Three monotheistic religions—Muslim, Jewish and Christian—claim substantial stakes in the “holy site” status of Jerusalem. I’m not historian enough to weigh the legitimacy of these claims, except that Christian interest in being involved in the fate of Jerusalem as a “holy site” is baffling. It’s clear that through selective reading of the gospels and dispensationalist, pre- or post-millenialist explanations of the end-of-times, Jerusalem can figure in the apocalyptic formulations of people who call themselves Christian.
But Christian faith was clearly meant by the prophetic voice that gives it its name to shift faith away from tribalism and the idolatrous worship of place. The classic conversation between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, for instance, (John 4: 19-24, NIV) can’t be easily ignored:
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. [. . .] Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Perhaps a reverence for—even worship of—a place is inevitable given human nature. When good things happen to us, a fondness develops for the place in which we were at the time. For indigenous Canadians, cultural roots are not recorded on paper but in the memories partially residing in sacred places. There is Heimweh, homesickness that can colour our worldview, cause us to long for places lost but not forgotten. And then there’s the romance of place: Old Montreal, Paris, The Big Apple, Grand Canyon that possess an aura well beyond the stones and soil of which they’re made.
And yet, can nostalgia ever be a defensible foundation for taking up arms? I tend to see our dilemma evolutionarily: our capability to wage destructive war has surpassed by far our social progress, so Jerusalem becomes occasion for quarreling and war, not for glorious, multicultural celebration.
Perhaps Islam or Judaism are dependent on Jerusalem being a more sacred place than Budapest or London or Rio de Janeiro. Logically, if there is but one God, and if his name is Yahweh, and if there is but one God, and if his name is Allah, then Yahweh and Allah are names for the same God and I have to wonder how he/she sees the shenanigans into which Donald Trump has now inserted his blunt instrument!
As Christians, though, who worship God “neither on this (Samaritan) mountain nor in Jerusalem,” we might do well to take our mandate from Christ himself to foster reconciliation and to stop finding excuses to participate as partisans in the Muslim/Jewish nonsense that since 1949 has focused on Palestine/Israel, and now on the Temple Mount and the Wailing Wall, a politics of futility.
2 Corinthians 5:17-19 (NIV)
- Therefore, if
anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone,
the new is here!
- All this is
from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us
the ministry of reconciliation:
- that God was
reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s
sins against them. And he has
committed to us the message of reconciliation.