I wonder (had I been born in a kibbutz in Israel)

Prior to my birth my parents considered moving to a kibbutz in Israel. I don’t know the ins and outs of it except to say that I believe it had to do with an odd and somewhat twisted eschatological (end times) view on how things were going to go down in the Middle East and then on to the world. So with that in mind I wonder how I would’ve been shaped by the events that are currently unfolding there, the issues that have been for the longest time been erupting over there, the tit-for-tat bombing and killing, essentially “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”…

I wonder…

I wonder if I was indeed born and raised in Israel how would I find my identity. Perhaps I would side up with Zionists claiming that the land was ALL theirs. Maybe I would be on the side of Palestinians whose land shrinks more and more, being pushed back further and further. Maybe I would take the stance some Evangelical American Christians have in thinking that if I take Israel’s side God will bless me…but it’s a lot of speculation as to how I would truly take a stand, but all I can is as that as a follower of Christ the side I do take in this issue is one of being Pro-Peace.

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This idea of being pro-peace didn’t come to me on my own. I admit I am somewhat biased and not level when it comes to the issues of what’s going on in Israel and Palestine. Yet it is the prayer of my heart to be pro-peace, and it also stems from a statement St. Mother Teresa made;

I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.

I too want to live out this perspective, on a global-local level, to make peace with people who agree with me but also with those who disagree with me. I think it is more Christ-like to take this stance than to be swayed by ideologies and perspectives and twisting of Bible verses to suit my personal gain. Since this is an issue that concerns people it can be emotionally challenging to see anything BUT peace, to formulate and perpetuate the “us versus them” paradigm as a means to bolster a means to exclaim why “I’m Pro-Israel / Pro-Palestine” and yet when we have take that kind of side we choose to have no love in our hearts for “the other” whomever they might be.

Peace might not appear to be obtainable, but I believe in my heart that someday it will prevail across all lands…all people…and through all hearts. It takes time, a whole lot of time, but there’s no time like the present for it to start.

Pray for Palestine,
Pray for Israel,
Pray for Peace.

~Nathanael~

Occupy love not hate

https://i2.wp.com/www.serve-others.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/bullhorn.jpg

What’s the point if all you do is shout
on the corner to all who walk by you spout
the bible to all different kinds of people
are you the human equivalent of church bell and steeple?
Do you speak up for those who simply won’t,
or do you speak out for those who simply don’t?
Is your posture one of love, forgiveness, and grace
or do you yell till you’re red and angry in the face,
saying God is love* (*but not actually)
He’s out to get you so matter-of-factly
He looks over the world with contempt, so hopeless
He’s angry with you when you lose your focus
He loves only a few the ones called his chosen,
if these are your words they’re cold and rather frozen
You didn’t get the memo, missed the alarm now you’re dozin’
Sure life is shitty sometimes but I don’t remember God reacted
 by saying “This is good, oh wait I take that back”, God never retracted.
God’s love for humanity is there when we choose to hate and not to love,
when we don’t wait patiently, when angrily we push and it comes to shove
When we drop the bomb on our so-called enemies from afar with our drones
When we drop the bomb on our friends in the comfort of our American homes
I don’t profess to be smart, to be wise, larger-than-life and
but I have hope, I believe, that shalom is on the horizon
So when we fuck it up I still believe someday we will get it right
We will walk together in the sun and walk out of this dark night.

~Nathanael~

The god of vacant parking spots

I have a family member who when driving with her she tends to pray in advance of me parking my car for a parking spot.

Now I consider myself a man of prayer. I enjoy praying because essentially it is talking and communicating with God, and there are times there’s no one I rather talk to than God, and not in bad times where life is unmanageable and I’ve gone on too long in leaning on my own strength but times when life is good, times when perfect shalom appears to be the horizon.

My take on praying to a god for a parking spot is…well…making God out to be something he’s not, in the same stride the god presented when looking for a parking spot, is the god that gets prayed to when we leave the house late and hope to get on work on time, the god who gets called upon when we’re watching to see if our lottery ticket is the one that wins big, the god who’s thanked for unexpected pizza days at school, the god we pray to that we don’t get caught after pulling an illegal u-turn, the god who let our team win the Super Bowl.

The thing is, that god is not God. That god is small, puny, domesticated and contained. He is docile, he’s our lucky charm, he’s our Mr. Potato Head…but what kind of god is that? What good is a god like that?

C.S. Lewis put it well in his book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. One of the children upon hearing that Aslan is a lion asks The Beavers if Aslan is safe; “Of course he isn’t safe! But he’s good.” Aslan is the character representing God, in which He cannot be thoroughly comprehended, he cannot truly be defined by mere human words, there is no box to contain him and he is not safe…but he is good. So to attribute available parking spots to him, the lack of getting a ticket, the winning of the Super Bowl, and so on is detrimental to us and not to God.

Instead of putting God in a box, why not let God be God? Because a God who isn’t contained by our standards and presuppositions is more of who he is anyway. He isn’t safe, but he is good.

~Nathanael~

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Wrestling with God, Theodicy, and Free Will

Lately I’ve been wrestling with God, Theodicy, and Free Will…but after much prayer and thought, I’ve come to a resolution that appeases me.

Theodicy is a struggle of putting two and two together; the components are if God is all loving/all knowing/all powerful, how come evil still happens in the world, would not such a God do away with such things? And if he doesn’t intercede, is he still all loving/all knowing/all powerful?
I struggled (and maybe I will struggle again) because I see pain quite often and sometimes even too much, the behavior of one human being against another or many just saddens me and drives me to lament over the atrocities that happen around this world of ours. While struggling, while doubting, while just feeling nothing…God showed up.

God didn’t break it down for me, but his presence and love that wrapped around me struck me as an “I know, I know” kind of feeling.

The thing is that I think God is all loving, all powerful, and all knowing, but the reason why he doesn’t step in when horrible things happen is because of free will. Free will gives us all sorts of freedoms, and essentially we’re able to do a lot of good…but we’re also capable of doing a lot of bad.

It is within this free will that we’re able to decide to follow God or not, whether we’re going to help others out who are in need or not, choice is ours and if we don’t make a choice in a matter that is also our choice (queue Freewill by Rush).

So instead of a intervening God (which would interfere with our freewill) God is present and with us while we go through life’s experiences, and I have faith that when we hurt and suffer he’s with us in our brokenness as well.
The thing is, we as human beings can intervene, we can make a difference in a world that is suffering, we can take care of those who are down and out, and anyone who is going through a personal hell on earth, we can and I truly believe that we must as well.

I believe in being a participant in kingdom of God work, doing what I can in the now and in the future to usher in perfect shalom. I have faith in God and what he’s doing and also the good things people are doing in his name. We are invited to be a part of the kingdom work, the making “on earth as it is in heaven” a reality, and not just a reality for a small group of individuals, but for all!

Recognizing that God will be in our midst in good times and bad times is comforting to me, it has helped me realize that God is God and shit will be shit, he’ll be in the midst of shitty times, he doesn’t go wandering off leaving us to pick up all the broken pieces but it is up to us to pick up all the pieces and give it to him, entrusting him with whatever the outcome may be.

~Nathanael~