Over 25 people gathered at the Sabeel office for this month’s Open Forum. The title of the session was “Betahone, (security) the new god of Israel.” Reverend Naim led the reflection on the following biblical verses:
1 Peter 4:12-16
Suffering as a Christian
12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed. 14If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory, which is the Spirit of God, is resting on you. 15But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, a criminal, or even as a mischief-maker. 16Yet if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name. Bottom of Form
1 Peter 5:5-11
5In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for
‘God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.’
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 7Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. 8Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 9Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. 10And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. 11To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.
After the Holocaust, many western Jews doubted God and God’s love for God’s people. They started to lose their faith because God allowed such evil to happen to them. Believing that God was unable to sufficiently protect them, they sought to protect themselves. When the state of Israel was founded, it immediately began to build its military force. Planted in the Middle East, it is now one of the world’s largest nuclear powers, despite its small area. In a way, military and nuclear security has become the god in whom Israel trusts. Yet, in the Old Testament as well as from the new (such as the mandate given to us in the passages from 1st Peter, mentioned above), God is the source of power and strength. Even when we are passing through terrible evil, it is God in whom we are to put our trust, rather than in nuclear weapons or other so-called security measures.
Towards the end of the Open Forum, Rev. Naim asked 2 questions:
1. What is the difference between believing in a God of Security that allows for military build-up and the God revealed in the Old Testament?
2. How does the example of Christ and the persecuted early church provide a way for us as Palestinian Christians to avoid the militaristic mistakes of the past and be obedient to the God of love, peace and Justice?
Participants had a chance to respond. The Forum concluded with Rev. Naim asking for continuous prayers that the family of nations will reach the decision to accept Palestine as a full member state.