7 Jesus is driven by “compassion,” the Greek word, “σπλάγχνον” splanchnon, which refers
to an ache in the deepest part of one’s soul. It is used at least ten times in the Gospels to
describe the emotion that erupts from inside a person’s soul, causing them to want to care
for another person.
The Chosen People | FEBRUARY 2019 5
great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could
wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for
the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.”
This is the kind of compassion that drove the Savior and
should move us, as well.
Christians throughout the ages have been capable of great
compassion. God has used this desire to accomplish great
things, including church planting, serving the poor, building
hospitals, providing clean water, and generally improving the
lives of the people reached with the message of the gospel.
Today, ministries promote themselves not only through
stirring messages during missions conferences or compelling
arguments distributed through blogs and social media but
also through images that elicit compassion. Mission promoters
have always understood the power of graphics and images as
one of the chief motivational tools to compel Christians to
serve the Lord in difficult places. We understand that people
serve when their hearts are broken and feel compassion for
those in need.
For example, think about the emotion in an appeal to reach
Jewish Israelis with the gospel with images of soldiers in the
Israeli Defense Forces standing guard at a Gaza checkpoint.
Or consider the effect of videos of missiles coming from Gaza
and landing in towns like Sderot, perched on the border of
Gaza. And imagine the feelings that flood your soul when you
are shown images of small children in Gaza after an Israeli
bombing of terrorist tunnels. Who would not be moved by
It is very difficult to think analytically when your heart is
broken by the visual stimulation of suffering children. It
would be inhuman to think in other terms. In these moments,
it is unlikely that anyone would think of fact-checking or of
trying to discover the circumstances around the bombing.
The images override the facts, even when they might reveal
that the bombed buildings were hiding missiles that would
cause death to innocent elderly Russian Jews living in Sderot.
Unfortunately, the above illustration is the reality in Israel
today. This unbalanced portrayal of the Palestinian-Israeli
conflict has done much to paint an insidious view of Israelis.
Israelis are portrayed as a colonial power that has no regard
for human life.
Unfortunately, this negative image of Jewish Israelis has spilled
over to the Jewish people in general, especially in the eyes of
next-generation evangelical Christians in the United States,
triggering a negative view of Israelis and of the Jewish people.
Intrinsically, this is a human and moral problem, but it has also
made it more difficult to motivate average Christians to love
the Jewish people and Israel and to share the gospel with them.
By God’s grace we need to pray for this to change. And we
need to take action to make sure that our fellow believers have
a more balanced view of the conflict in Israel. Portraying
Israelis as aggressors is unfair and untrue. This type of
thinking only intensifies the conflict and pours cold water on
the work of Jewish evangelism in Israel and around the globe.
A Dark History but a Bright Future
There is a dark side to church history—a past that is not often revisited. Believers are
generally shocked to hear that their theological heroes supported violence against the
Jewish people. Consider the following quotations from significant church leaders:
Jerome, Letter 84, 400 AD: “If it is expedient to hate any men and to loath any race,
I have a strange dislike to those of the circumcision. For up to the present day they
persecute our Lord Jesus Christ in the synagogues of Satan.”8
Ambrose of Milan, writing to Emperor Theodosius I, 388 AD: “A report was made by
the military Count of the East that a synagogue had been burnt, and that this was done
at the instigation of the bishop. You Theodosius gave command that the others should
be punished, and the synagogue be rebuilt by the bishop himself…. Shall, then, a place
be made for the unbelief of the Jews out of the spoils of the Church, and shall the
patrimony, which by the favour of Christ has been gained for Christians, be transferred
to the treasuries of unbelievers?... Shall the Jews write this inscription on the front of
their synagogue: ‘The temple of impiety, erected from the plunder of Christians’?”9
We are often unaware that church leaders advocated hatred of Jews, the destruction of
synagogues, and the violent expulsion of the chosen people from “Christian” society.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 7
Our recent Muchan conference brought
together young believers who are the future.