Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

There’s No Hajj in Christianity

Posted by Adam Graham on April 10, 2007

Dennis Mansfield expresses some frustration at the difficulty in finding people to go to Israel with him:

For Jews, Christians, Druze and Muslims a trip to Jerusalem seems like it ought to be a major goal – one so achievable in today’s global network of transportation. My belief was that evangelical Christians would anxiously sign up; that they’d want to go to Israel and Egypt – the cradles of monotheism….to walk where Jesus walked.

I was wrong.

A few folks did go from our area. Not a lot. Why the reticence? Cost? Maybe. Time? Again maybe. Ambivalence? Getting warmer….

Could it be that they just don’t care about Israel? American evangelicals just may not be interested in the nation that so recently came again from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Or are we just “asleep in the light”? As the late Keith Green penned: “Jesus rose from the dead and YOU, you can’t get out of bed.”

More to the point: was my basic presupposition in error? I naturally thought that people who stake their whole of eternity on the events of the Bible would, in fact, want to go to where these things happened. I was wrong.

Visiting the Holy Land is on the big list of things I’d like to do someday. I certainly understand the frustration here. It’s hard and difficult when good ideas and projects are waylaid by an apathetic populace. I’ve had it happen time and time again with pro-life events and groups, political campaigns, etc. Few things can be so damaging as when you’re enthused for a good thing and are basicaly left out in the cold.

Having said that, I feel somewhat ambivalent about the emphasis being placed on a trip to Israel. If I were a Muslim, it would be a requirement that unless I were in severe financial straights, I would journey to the strange land of Saudi Arabia once in my life. This is called the Hajj.

While there have been willing pilgrims and pilgrimages throughout the history of the Faith, there is no Hajj in Christianity. Islam requires its followers to travel great distances in search of God, in search of a Holy City, in essence in search of God.

Yet, the name of Christ is Immanuel (God with us.) Paul tells us that our bodies are the temple of God. (1. Cor. 6:19) Christ stands at the door and knocks (Rev. 3:20)

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.

Then, Jesus in John 4 has this exchange with the woman at the well:

The woman said unto Him, “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and ye say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”

“Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither on this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father…But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.” (John 4: 21, 23)

Visiting the Holy Land is great, but as for the statement that in Israel, God is a “local call,” God is a local call anywhere and everywhere, particularly if you’ve been redeemed.

That said, I wouldn’t discount the influence of complacency in the lack of interest. Those folks constantly heading off for fun in the sun in Hawaii and the Virgin Islands could perhaps grow more contemplative in visiting Israel. For others (like my wife and I for example,) a trip to Israel becomes cost prohibitive. Just to land in Tel Aviv would cost us a month’s pay and that’s before tours, hotels, etc.

Others honor God through mission trips. My stuff was moved to my current House in Boise by two boys from a church I was visiting who needed money for their mission trip to Mexico. Last year, my current church took a mission trip to help a church in need in Dallas, and is now saving hard for a trip to Tanzania to help out there. That’s right, kids are busting tail so that they can get a bunch of shots and go help out in a foreign land.

Let’s be clear, going to Israel can be great. Those who’ve been there have sold me on it as a great opportunity to improve your cultural understanding, increase the intelligence of your views on the Middle East, walk where the prophets and Christ walked. However, through Christ you don’t have to go there to know God or find out if he’s real, because through God’s promise, he’s always a local call. Whether you’re calling from Boise or Bethlehem, he answers just the same.

Linked by the great Random Yak.

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