by Dr. Gary Dull, Executive Director of the PA Pastors Network
Originally published in the Altoona Mirror HERE.
My heart was broken when I heard about the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last month.
I was sitting in my study preparing my sermon when the alert came. I immediately prayed, asking God to protect the people there. It was not until later that I heard 11 precious lives were taken by a very wicked man, and that others, including police officers, were injured.
Upon hearing the news, I was both angered at the shooter and sorrowful for those who were injured, killed or now deep in grief.
Personally, I cannot understand how anyone can go into a place of worship and kill innocent people. But, theologically, I realize this is possible because of the wicked sin nature that dwells within.
I agonize still because the shooter stated that “all Jews must die.”
That cuts deep into my soul even now. And yet I realize that many from all religions have disliked Jews as far back as Abraham. But this dislike should never be the case among biblical Christians.
In fact, biblical Christians absolutely love the Jewish people and love them absolutely.
Christians’ spiritual heritage is founded in Old Testament teachings, which are Jewish. Our beloved savior was Jewish.
And we often talk about our “Judeo-Christian heritage,” which is built upon Jewish doctrine and law. Without the Jewish people and Jewish teachings, we would have no Christian “religion,” no savior and, frankly, no hope of heaven.
In fact, everything we as Christians believe is grounded in Genesis, and the greatest description of our savior, Jesus Christ, is portrayed in Isaiah Chapter 53.
Christians cannot deny their spiritual relationship with the Jewish people and neither will they be separated from it throughout all of eternity. In fact, through faith in Jesus Christ the Messiah, believing Jews and believing Gentiles are a part of one eternal Body of Christ forever.
Corinthians 12:13 teaches this wonderful truth — and, during this Thanksgiving season, we should be grateful for that truth.
Yes, every true Christian loves Israel and the Jewish people. If one claims to be a Christian and has any dislike for Jews, then I seriously question the genuineness of that person’s salvation. True Christians want to see the nation of Israel protected and Jews live in peace.
On the Monday following the terrible shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue on Oct. 27, I had a strong urge to travel two hours to see what I, as a Baptist pastor, could do to stand with those of the Jewish congregation who were hurting.
As soon as I arrived, I began speaking with Jewish people and rabbis. I immediately sensed a bond of love and felt they were reaching out to me emotionally.
One of the rabbis hugged me and asked me to sing with him. Of course, I did, even though I did not know the song. Afterward, I learned the theme of the song focused on how God can turn hatred into love — amazing in light of the terrible act of hatred that took place just two days earlier.
As I look back on that day, I believe the mercy of God was at work in the heart of that rabbi. There we were — a Jewish rabbi and a Baptist pastor singing together on the sidewalk about God turning hatred into love.
With some, I shared a prayer and scripture; Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
It was a precious time I will never forget. And I am praying that God will allow me the opportunity to build that beautiful relationship with the people of the Tree of Life Synagogue.
Yes, true Christians love the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. We must pray for them. We must show the love of God to them. We must stand with them in their time of need.
Those who bless the Jewish people will be blessed by God. And I am convinced that every true Christian loves to love God’s special people, the Jews.
Pastor Gary Dull is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network, a board member of the American Pastors Network and a co-host of APN’s “Stand in the Gap Today” daily radio program. He also pastors Faith Baptist Church of Altoona.