Earlier this week, the Israeli government bulldozed 1,500 fruit trees on a family farm near Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus.
The Tent of Nations farm has been owned by the Nassar family for nearly a century. But the military declared the trees were on “state land” and had to be uprooted. The Nassars appealed to the courts and were awaiting a verdict when the illegal demolition took place.
It’s a relatively common story. For decades the Israeli government has used a complex bureaucratic system and a powerful civil planning authority to take control of more than half the land in the West Bank. During Operation Cast Lead in 2009, farms in Gaza were targeted and in some cases destroyed.
But what if something similar had taken place here? You see, the Nassars are a Christian family. Their farm, Tent of Nations, is a Christian ministry registered under Bethlehem Bible College, an evangelical institution.
Can you even imagine the outrage here if the US government targeted an evangelical Christian ministry and bulldozed its headquarters?
The truth is, if what happened to the Nassars had happened anywhere else, Christians would be justifiably outraged. We would call it persecution. We would stage protests. We would take to our Facebook and Twitter feeds en masse. We would demand justice.
So what happens when the persecutor is someone most evangelicals consider a friend? Will we call this act for what it is? Will we speak truth to power? Will we stand in solidarity with our Christian brothers and sisters, as we are biblically obligated to? Or will we put politics ahead of the body of Christ?
There should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for the other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it… You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is part of it.
—Paul, 1 Corinthians (NIV)
Update: This is a video RELEVANT Magazine made about Tent of Nations a few months ago, called “We Refuse to Be Enemies.” Well worth watching.
(HT Jonathan Damico @damicojc)