Today we went to church (our church meets on Saturday mornings... Sabbath day here in Israel) and found that someone broke into the building and set the church on fire this past week. We found that this was the second time in this church's history that someone tried to destroy it. Apparently it is difficult to be a church that proclaims and praises the Messiah Jesus in Jerusalem. This time, because the building is made entirely of concrete, the fire was only able to destroy the interior (chairs and the "stuff"). So... plastic chairs and new "stuff" was brought in and church went on as usual. We also discovered that after the fire many comments were made against the church such as, "You deserve this you soul- stealers" and other negative comments directed against this congregation of Jesus-followers.
After singing praises, the senior pastor (who never preaches because he does not feel like it is his gift) went up on the stage and said, "Today is a very special day. Today is a special day because today we are not going to hold a grudge. Today we are not going to point fingers or cast blame on those who might be responsible for our fire. Today we will love the people who did this thing to us. We will not hold a grudge because holding grudges and becoming bitter is a burden too great for us to bear. We don't even have to bear these burdens because Jesus said He would bear them for us." Then he sat down and the worship service continued.
It is a beautiful thing to see true Christ-like living. It is beautiful to know that Jesus calls us to "turn the other cheek" and to bless when we are cursed. This type of living does more for the cause of Christ than fancy programs and "outreach" events could ever do. Living out the grace and forgiveness of Jesus is the truly effective form of spreading the message of God's love to the world.
* A side note to this event is that the Synagogue next to the church offered free use of their facilities until the church was able to open again. The stage also was decorated with flowers today courtesy of the same synagogue. A reminder of the love of God came to the Church of Jesus the Messiah from those who do not believe. *