Starting at around 4am, competing loud speakers blare out their message six times per day. The noise is as distracting as it is discomforting.
“What kind of god would enjoy that noise?” asked Katie as she listened to the mooing sounds.
What kind of god indeed.
Cluttered with shops that sell everything from vegetables, to touristy trinkets and t-shirts, the Old City in Jerusalem buzzes with religious competition. There are Armenian Orthodox in the Armenian Quarter. There’s the Arab Christians in the Christian Quarter who are predominantly Roman Catholic. There are the Muslims in the Muslim Quarter and, of course, the Jews in the Jewish Quarter. Overlooking the city from Mount Scopus is a large Mormon university complex. And then you have various Catholic groups that care for the myriad of “Holy Sites” where cathedrals mark the spots that Jesus may or may not have been.
Each of these groups has a claim to the city. Each one sees the city as being central in some way to their faith. One cannot say this about any other city in the world.
Standing outside our dorms at St. Peter’s of Gallicantu (a Catholic complex claiming to be built on the site of Caiaphas’ house), Katie can see the Mt. of Olives, the Walls of the Old City, the Dome of the Rock, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as countless Catholic cathedrals.
All of this wailing over loudspeakers, all of these rabbis bobbing back and forth at the Western Wall, all of these cathedrals reaching for the sky and a few tourist shekels, and a nine year old girl asks the right question.
What kind of god?
I’ve been told by Muslim evangelists that Jesus was a Muslim! Now apart from the obvious history lesson that ensued, what else could I say?
Jesus loves you. My help comes from the Lord.
“I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD,
who made heaven and earth.”
We do not serve a distant God who needs us to chant from megaphones. He is real and personal and he lives inside of us. We do not have to visit him on Shabbat at the western wall and we don’t have to go to mass to meet him. And we don’t have to wait until Sundays at church to meet him either.
So much competition and so much striving to please a god who is no god at all. Or, in the case of the Jews, is God, but they are approaching him from a position of rebellion regarding God’s Son. So much, and it is all striving after the wind.
The desire is there. Jesus is appearing to Muslims in dreams and they are coming to the Lord. Jews are considering passages in Jeremiah and Isaiah that point to what we call the New Testament (written entirely by Jews btw).
The fields here are white unto harvest, not only here, but all over the world. The good news is that God is winning. Don’t let the news feeds or the pundits fool you. Don’t let the images from Baltimore and from Nepal fool you. God is penetrating cultures and he is making a difference in the lives of those who look to him. He is their help and shield.
Please pray for the peace of Jerusalem.