7.12.07

phoney persecution

As my carriage rushed toward a tunnel, I hurried to end my phone conversation. The overpowering darkness arrived as my friend’s voice disappeared. We were in the middle of deep theological discussion and didn’t want it to finish so suddenly. God had other plans.

Persecuted?
a voice spoke out, breaking the silence.
You think Christians are persecuted?
I look left to see a lady staring back at me.
I have news for you! she proclaimed

I interrupted her spiel to greet Yasmine and invite the conversation to continue.
She began again:
I’m a Jew, and we have always been the most persecuted people group.
Challenges like these excite my mind to run numbers like

- 160,000 Christians are martyred each year (2nd only in murders to abortion)
- 4 million more Christians than Jews were killed by Nazi Germany.
A split second into my thoughts I realise that although Christians are more persecuted it is because we are more in number. The Jewish race is by far the most persecuted people group per capita throughout history. I also have found my attempts at two way offensive conversations unsuccessful.

I chose to withhold my workings and simply agree to her claim. She continued:
How can you say you are being persecuted in a country like this anyway?
Good question I responded. Persecution can seem trivial in western culture. It sounds like you have personally experienced persecution?
I’m a Jew and over 60, what do you think?

Yasmin’s reference to the Holocaust made me glad I kept my mouth shut before. The speed of our conversation was surpassing that of the train. I needed to slow things down and let her aggression soften. What to do...

Why do you think that Jews are the target of intense persecution?

Space and time became my friend as Yasmin considered a response. Open questions like these require thought beyond an automatic reply. The focus shifted from me to her as she considered an explanation for her built-up angst. I always find witnessing easier when asking open questions as they assume less, provide thinking time and often reveal unfounded belief.
I guess people are afraid of the truth she said hesitantly
Why would that be?
Well, people are scared that Ha-Shem could be real, and if He is, this changes everything. And because Ha-Shem has chosen His own people, others feel threatened. You’ve read the Tanakh, sorry the …Old Testament? You’d know of the surrounding nation’s fear and jealousy?
Yes definitely, although I would add that since then God fulfilled Abraham’s promise that all nations would be blessed through him, therefore I see the open invite for all nations to be God’s people
Ahh, don’t give me that Christian rubbish!
Well, that’s exactly why this topic came about in the first place. I believe that Jesus is the promised seed of Abraham, but the Jewish nation didn’t accept Jesus, which ended in his persecution. So I could equally say that people are afraid of the truth of Christianity
I guess so, but Jesus wasn’t the Messiah

I decide to change tact:
Have you read the New Testament before?
No
Ok, cause I think this is a great topic but a huge one to address in one train trip. What if I commit to read the selections of the Talmud if you commit to read the New Testament? It’s written by Jews, and letters like Matthew and Hebrews are expressly written to a Jewish audience. They quote a lot of the Torah so you would feel comfortable reading it.
Alright, sounds like a plan

We said our farewells as my station approached. Walking to work, I reflected on how God works in mysterious ways: A phone call with a friend began an opportunity to witness, which could lead to a new birth.
Yasmin taught me that persecution in the west isn’t really persecution at all, but rather teasing or at worst harassment. Regardless of the intensity, we as Christians should have the attitude of Paul:
I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Rom 1:16
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6 comments:

David said...

well written.
very ecnouraging

byron smith said...

How do you calculate that 4 million more Christians than Jews were killed by Nazi Germany?

Scott said...

This was a great opportunity and I think you handled it well.
Mostly people jump into arguements without considering the other's position.
By not arguing, you have not closed their mind.
Well done

hayesy said...

Great post!
I love how you work your own reasons/lessons in amongst the 'action'!

Funny thing is, judging by previous posts it might have been tempting to regard your phone conversation as a selfish use of your time. God is sovereign over our 'wisdom'!

More posts!

Anonymous said...

how does it end??? did you continue the conversation - fulfill your repective roles of reading each other's text? great work though...i mean your confidence, courage and love are encouraging.

jpj said...

Hey Anon!
The thing about commuting is that you hope to see people again but rarely do. I started reading Talmud and got way confused so read some commentaries on it instead. Thanks for the reminder, should get back into it.

I can only pray she picked up the gospels and saw Jesus for who he really is.

Haysey - God certainly is!