I am no paragon of secular virtue – and I enjoy a good racist/sexist/agist/dietist/sexual-orientationist/handicapable-ist joke poking fun at the foibles, insecurities and inadequacies of people who are not like me every bit as much as the next guy. Let’s face it, life as a straight white male from a well-to-do family is pretty much a target-rich environment – I used to park my Porsche in a handicapped spot every now and then just to see people flip out.
Lecture me all you want, it was still pretty funny. Try it sometime … it’s amazing how fast people who otherwise subscribe completely to a philosophy of moral relativism will do a complete 180 when faced with the Eighth Deadly Sin of someone parking in the blue space.
Growing up in the Midwest, in an area with approximately the same ethnic diversity as Heinrich Himmler’s vision of Aryan paradise, I didn’t know any Jews. What little I knew about Jewish culture and history was through Leon Uris and Chaim Potok, and it wasn’t until attending college on the East Coast that I came into direct contact with any of the Chosen. I can’t say that I noticed anything particularly different about the Jews on campus, except a lot of the girls going in for nose jobs sometime between matriculation and graduation.
As I delved into my studies of history, though, I was amazed to learn how much antipathy for the Jewish people was developed by so many different cultures. At this point in time, it’s pretty much only the Chinese, Japanese and Eskimos who haven’t harbored large numbers of Jew-haters in their midst, and you pretty much have to leave out the Japanese since they generally seem to hate everyone. (You can lecture me on the parking, but not this: Foreigner = gaijin = devil, wakarimasen-ka?)
I never understood why, from Haman to Hitler and Hamas, folks have had it in for the Jews in a very big way. Sure, it made sense for the average medieval king-in-debt to do away with his arrears by eliminating the lenders, but this hardly accounts for the murderous zeal of the common people. The Church ban on usury certainly must have created some envy of those who were not bound by such laws, but it’s not as if the inability to legally run your own lottery often triggers the burning of Indian casinos today.
In fact, no explanation made much sense to me until later, when I became a Christian and began to twig to the spiritual element behind this human need to destroy. As with many things evil, it ultimately traces back to the fact that this world is ruled by a supernatural serial killer – who wishes destruction on everyone – but most of all upon those who belong to God. The problem is that whereas Christians have the benefit of what Paul describes in Ephesians as “the full armor of God” and are equipped to fight back against the super-psycho and his legions, Jews have little more than a promise that they will not be completely destroyed.
So, despite their differences on the Messiah’s identity, Jews and Christians are on the same team. There is no great division between them, since God does not break His promises and He will keep those that He has made to both peoples. Any other division is man-made, and it is as stupidly nonsensical to blame Christians today for the wrongdoings of our medieval forebears as it was for those forebears to blame the Jews of their day for crucifying Jesus Christ. Who, by the way, was a Jew.
The New York Times may find it hard to understand why Southern Baptists in Texas and Evangelical Lutherans in Iowa firmly support Israeli Jews they’ve never met, don’t know and with whom they have nothing in common, but I don’t. Because when the fallen world in all its rage comes slavering after the chosen people of God, it is our job as Christians to stand in the gap and protect them. Corrie ten Boom understood this – so did Padre Ruffino Niccacci of Assissi, Rev. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and many others.
I still don’t know many Jews. But I know that if the force which once inspired the Endeks, the Black Hundreds and the Waffen SS – and now inspires Hamas and the Islamic Jihad – ever comes for them here in the USA, it will have to get past me and millions of other like-minded evangelical Christians first.