Friday, 16 March 2012

A Sheep in Sheep's Clothing?

Seamus is a sheep. He used to be known as Shaun but changed his name following a recent visit to the Holy Land (and that is another story).

He is really excited to know that his adventures will be published shortly in a special photo album.

When I caught up with him, I asked him what he would say to those who claimed he was really just a wolf in sheep's clothing. Strangely, he wouldn't open his mouth (Isaiah 53:7).

For the record, over the years, this sheep's blog has however:
  • lamented the suffering of Christians under Islamic rule here and here
  • repudiated suicide bombers and terrorism here and here.
  • repudiated holocaust deniers here, here, here and here.
  • repudiated anti-Semitism here, here and here.
  • repudiated racism and the British National Party (BNP) here.
  • distinguished anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism here.
  • advocated a diplomatic solution to resolving tensions with Iran here and here.
  • advocated for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by peaceful means based on the implementation of international law here, here and here .
To clarify my position in my book Zion's Christian Soldiers, I wrote the following:

"It is true that at various times in the past, churches and church leaders have tolerated or incited anti-Semitism and even attacks on Jewish people. Racism is a sin and without excuse. Anti-Semitism must be repudiated unequivocally. However, we must not confuse apples and oranges. Anti-Zionism is not the same thing as anti-Semitism despite attempts to broaden the definition. Criticising a political system as racist is not necessarily racist. Judaism is a religious system. Israel is a sovereign nation. Zionism is a political system. These three are not synonymous. I respect Judaism, repudiate anti-Semitism, encourage interfaith dialogue and defend Israel’s right to exist within borders recognised by the international community and agreed with her neighbours. But like many Jews, I disagree with a political system which gives preference to expatriate Jews born elsewhere in the world, while denying the same rights to the Arab Palestinians born in the country itself."

But then again, what else would you expect of a sheep in sheep's clothing? On a daily basis I count myself truly blessed (Matthew 5:11) and honoured to follow the Good Shepherd (John 15:18-19).

I concur wholeheartedly with John Stott who once said,
“Away then with anti-Semitism! It has been an appalling scandal in the history of Europe, and even the Christian church has been implicated. Christians should be ‘pro-Semitic’, in the sense that we recognize how the people of Israel have been highly favoured by God. We Gentiles are their debtors, Paul wrote (Romans 15:27). We owe them a huge spiritual debt, especially in their bequest to the world of both the Scriptures and the Christ."

I have been meditating on these verses from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians this week. I can identify in a small way with how he felt.

"We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! ... When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment." (1 Corinthians 4:10-14)