Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fire and Forgiveness

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. *

10 comments:

perry said...

Between Sara's entry at the other site and this one I have to question the concept of tolerance that is so often mentioned within the Jewish community.

I'm sure you are learning more from immersion than you are from the university. I know there are frustrations, but I am confident that God has put you in Jerusalem for your benefit.

I look forward to you next post.

bethke said...

It is so refreshing to hear new like this where people are just helping each other meet their basic needs no matter what their religious background is. It is something that I definitely dont do enough of in my life. Thanks for the update Ryan, and although it has been a long time know i am praying for you and your family.

Melissa said...

It is a beautiful thing to see true Christ-like living. Especially to witness it first hand... I love that I can read your blog and it makes me stop, reflect, and experience something new. I will enjoy what is to come as you start school and share with us your studies... though your life experiences are priceless ... please continue to share those experiences you, Sara, and the boys have. You are not the only one learning something!! I am too. =) Thank you again for sharing with us!!
praying for all of you.

Dale said...

turning the other cheek is probably the hardest thing one can ever do. I think like you've told us so many times though, Jesus was never about fighting against our enemies. I probably only took a minute to read this blog, but it really spoke to me, it's been really hard holding out as a junior high leader when everyone seems to have left me. I really wish I could teach empathy and love to the people here, but I know all i can really do is change myself and try to get better every day.

Dale said...

p.s. on the * note...
My best friend is mormon and I hate it soo much that whenever he meets a Christian they try so hard to convert him that he's now turned off against Christians. I'm his really only Christian friend and I think like the synagouge next to your church, we as christians should rather than trying so hard to convert the other religions we should be trying to love them more and let God work on their hearts.

patricia said...

Ditto on Dale's last comment.

patricia said...

except the part about the mormon friend, I don't hang around with a mormon guy. I just meant the last part... you know...

Ryan said...

Perry- It is a good experience and will be better understood in time.

Brandon- Thanks for checking in.

Melissa- Keep learning.

Dale & Patricia- Thanks for the comments. Now, allow me to ask this... Is there ever a time for dialogue and even reasoning through scriptures in regards to the faith of others? OR, should we allow everyone who claims a faith to stick to it and only discuss with those with no faith affinity?

Steve said...

So Rich and I are in the library talking about the Church, suffering, and a full life. We've come to the conclusion that these are all inseperable aspects of the Kingdom. I stated that "Christianity doesn't do well unless its being oppressed." We talked this through and decided that this idea may be one of the reasons why the church in America isn't doing so well. The Church thrives on suffering and persecution, which isn't happening in the US. I'm encouraged to see that the Church in Israel is living her beliefs. I think it was Bonhoeffer who said, "believing is obedience and obedience is beliving." Thank you for allowing me to hear that the Church in Israel is living what the church in America is preaching.

-Much Love. Thanks Ryan.

Ryan Rosenbaum said...

Steve & Rich-
I agree that the persecuted church has to be real in their faith but what other factors help it experience real, not transferred, growth? Check JP Moreland's new book called "The Kingdom Triangle" for some interesting ideas.