Be careful what you wish for. Those are words that I know I heard a lot growing up and have seen played out in my own life (and in the lives of others).
Today, I would like to take a moment to discuss those words in terms of the Second Coming of Christ.
I would like to take this moment because there are a lot of people claiming to be Christian who, at this very moment, are cheering the bloodshed, violence, and loss of lives in Palestine.
There are couple of reasons for this subset of people who claim to be Christian to cheer for this: the conservative evangelical belief that Israel is promised to all Jewish people by God through Abraham; and, that this violence, and the ongoing (and illegal, according to the UN) expansion of Israel will fulfill a prophecy necessary bring about the second coming of Christ.
According to a poll by LifeWay (an evangelical Christian organization), and reported by the Washington Post, more than half of Evangelicals believe that in order for Christ to return, Israel must possess all of the “Holy Land” again – on both sides of the Jordan River – in order for Christ to return.
In modern days, this means one thing: war. A really big war, in the middle east, where Israel will expand it’s borders.
It means that thousands, and thousands of innocent people will be killed, in order for Christ to come back.
There are a lot of things wrong with this idea. A lot. I am not a Jewish scholar, so I will not be talking about the gift of God to Abraham of the “Promised Land”, now called the Holy Land. Just know that there are a lot of different interpretation to that story as well.
I am just going to say it: but if you think Jesus would endorse the violent murder of ANYONE, you have clearly read a different book than I have.
Because the Jesus that I know, whom I have dedicated my life to following, teaches that you should love your neighbor as yourself. Not kill them. Love. Respect. Honor. Make sure their basic needs are met.
But that’s an idea I’ll flush out a bit later. For now, let’s consider what it would mean for Christ to come back.
Here’s the thing: I have dedicated my life to learning how to follow in Christ’s footsteps. And it’s hard. It’s actually rather hard to be a Christian. I have to interact with a lot of people that I normally wouldn’t (for a variety of reasons). I have to respect people even when they don’t respect me; even when they bully me, harass me, spit on me, and belittle my existence. I have to stop what I’m doing while walking home at night to buy an unhoused neighbor dinner. I have to love people. All people. I have to treat others the way that I would want to be treated.
Because Jesus tells me to.
And if Jesus comes back! Watch out world, things are going to be different.
What I say now is specifically for those who are cheering the death and destruction in the Middle East (but everyone is welcome to read):
If Jesus comes back, your life is going to be remarkably different. Jesus would not be cheering this death and destruction. Jesus would not cheer any death or destruction! Jesus would be wondering how we let things get this bad. Jesus would ask us all, and hold us to account, for the way we treated one another that resulted in this violence.
Jesus would hold us to account for valuing ourselves and our lives more than those of Palestinians.
Jesus would hold us to account for using innocent lives as political pawns.
Jesus would hold us to account for using innocent lives as a way of manipulating God.
Because, really, I’m sure God has a pretty good idea of when God plans on coming back. If God wanted it to be now, there wouldn’t need to be the blood of Christians, and Jews, and Muslims, covering the Holy Land.
Here’s what happens if Jesus comes back: you have to make sure everyone (yes, everyone) has basic needs met. Safety. A place to sleep. Water to drink. Food to eat.
You must treat everyone with respect. Men. Women. Trans. White. Black. Brown. Purple. Polka dotted. Gay. Straight. Liberal. Conservative. Christian. Jew. Muslim. Unitarian. Agnostic. Atheist. That Spaghetti Monster religion. American. Israeli. Palestinian. English. Irish. Italian. South African. Ghanaian. Chinese. Japanese. Mexican. Indian. Native American. Employed. Unemployed. Well employed. Rich. Poor. Imprisoned. Convict. Victim. Accused. Homeless. Married. Single. Divorced. Citizen. Dreamer. Immigrant. Illegal Immigrant. Documented. Undocumented. Educated. Uneducated. Descendant of Slave. Descendant of Slave Owner. Women who have had an abortion. People with Tattoos. People without Tattoos. Dog owners. Cat owners. Gryffindors. Slytherins. Hufflepuffs. And Ravenclaws.
And y’all, that is not easy.
Jesus is also super clear that it’s not up to us to judge others on earth. That’s Christ’s job. Jesus has got it under control. Christ will judge for us, so we shouldn’t do it.
And if we do, if we do judge others, we will be judged using the same standard.
I would much rather be judged as a person who loved and cared, who cries and mourns over the loss of innocent lives, than as a person who sees humans as disposable pieces in a game for power.
You must care for one another. It’s not optional. You must give to those who are in need. You must shelter the immigrant. Protect the weak. Feed the hungry. Provide for the poor. Be nice to people. All people. Even if they aren’t nice to you.
This is what Jesus teaches.
Jesus also teaches us to not make decisions lightly. To ground our decisions in Christ’s teachings.
Christ teaches us to love. Christ teaches us to love the Lord our God above all others and all other things. Christ teaches us to love ourselves. And to love our neighbors as ourselves.
So be careful what you wish for. Because if Christ comes back tomorrow, we’ve all got A LOT of explaining to do.
And we’ll all have A LOT of life changes to make.