Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews issue Larnaca Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

25 February 2016 – Thirty Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews met in Larnaca, Cyprus, January 25-28, 2016 for four days of prayer, fellowship and study. They issued a statement affirming their unity as believers in Jesus and calling on their communities to join them in reconciliation initiatives.

The Lausanne Initiative for Reconciliation in Israel/Palestine (LIRIP) hosted the conference. Its vision is “to promote reconciliation within the body of Christ and our wider communities in Israel and Palestine by creating a network that encourages, under the auspices of the Lausanne Movement, models of gospel-based, Christ-centered reconciliation that will have prophetic impact in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The Larnaca Statement affirms the unity of Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews as believers in Jesus, calling for mutual commitment to live out that unity in the midst of conflict and division.  It recognizes areas of challenge and theological disagreement and identifies where further work needs to be done.  It proposes practical actions that express hope for the future, especially amongst the next generation of believers in both communities. It calls for prayer and support from the wider family of believers.

The statement highlights the issues and challenges affecting reconciliation, noting:

“In times of tension and violent conflict, relationships suffer, while suspicion, accusation and mutual rejection thrive. At such times it is even more essential that we who affirm our unity in the Messiah must uphold ethical standards of life that are worthy of our calling, in all our attitudes, words and deeds.”

It recognizes that “we hold very different theological positions regarding the land, and also very different perspectives on the causes of the social, political and economic realities that impact the daily life of all who inhabit the land.”

Nevertheless, it calls for “a generous theological stance, which makes room for and respects the conscientious convictions of others that they sincerely derive from their reading of Scripture” and for “every effort to maintain our fellowship with each other as a witness to the unity of the body of the Messiah and to the boundless love of God for all people.”

Dr. Munther Isaac, Palestinian Christian co-chair of the Initiative, said: “Despite our different convictions on many issues, we are able to affirm together the need for reconciliation, and to seek unity among believers across our divided communities. Our shared faith calls us to listen, respect and even challenge one another in a Christ-like manner. It also compels us to be advocates for reconciliation and just peace.”

Dr. Richard Harvey, Messanic Jewish co-chair, added “It is important that a statement such as this is read and studied by Messianic Jews and Palestinian Christians, and all who pray for and work towards peace in the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Only by taking seriously the command of Yeshua (Jesus) to love our enemies can we begin to see the transforming power of His message of Good News in our lives and communities.”

The LIRIP Steering Committee, consisting of the two co-chairs and Mrs. Lisa Loden,  Botrus Mansour, LLB, Grace Mathews, Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of Lausanne Movement, the Very Rev. Dr Trevor W. J. Morrow, former Moderator of the Presbyterian General Assembly of Ireland, Dr. Salim Munayer and Rev. Dr. Christopher Wright, International Ministries Director of the Langham Partnership facilitated the conference. A further conference is planned for January 2017.

The LIRIP steering committee recognises the sensitive and challenging nature of the statement, and welcomes discussion, feedback and comment in the spirit of mutual respect and Christian courtesy and charity.   The statement expresses the work and the commitments of those present at the conference, and while it does not claim to represent the views of all within the Lausanne movement and beyond,  it is offered and commended for study, discussion, prayer and action.

For more information and details of future meetings, contact the Lausanne Movement.

 

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  • Joel Wright

    God is the God of Inclusive love out into the nations.

    How wonderful to see Biblical faith expressed in real fellowship and greater unity (Psalm 133; John 17)!!!

    I still sense however that in many such gatherings and debates over Israel and Palestine, Israel in relation to its neighbors, that we have not yet fully grasped the Biblical text in all of its depth. The Scriptures reveal the heart of God, and the purposes to which God aspires.

    Especially important, I believe in this regard is a better reading of the Covenant in its very origin, namely the message of the inclusive love of God, as shown in the story of the Jacob & Joseph (Genesis 37-50).
    As part of the conclusion of the story and the ultimate formation of “Israel” (Twelve Tribes), we recall the powerful words of the Patriarch Jacob / Israel in Genesis 48:4-6:

    ‘Behold, I will make you Joseph fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a
    company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after
    you for an everlasting possession. Now
    your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came
    to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben
    and Simeon are. But
    your offspring that have been born after them shall be yours; they
    shall be called by the names of their brothers in their inheritance. ”

    Thus we are driven in the Original Covenant of God with Israel to understand that “Israel” is one of Inclusive Love. The 12 tribes are from different mothers, even countries and cultures, and thus cannot even exist without a greater sense of mutual interdependence and greater brotherhood.

    Inclusive love is to be at its core, and represents the heart of God and His final purposes for mankind.

    This is not just an honor and peace between nations, but rather a Israel as a Nation of Inclusive Love.
    Yes, God is the God of Inclusive love out into the nations. And while God has been sovereign over the separation of peoples (Tower of Babel, Jacob loved, Esau hated, etc…), God is also sovereign over the unity of His people, just as Joseph ultimately ministered grace for all people that came and sought food from under his care.

    Israel as the “Twelve Tribes of Israel” included Egyptian-born adopted grandsons, sons born to different mothers of different racial heritage even touching across the Nile into Africa. Thus it is innately impossible to uphold an Independent Israel as if some pure Israeli race is involved, discarding the rest. Israel cannot be Israel without recognizing a love for Egypt and carry Egypt its heart, model in fact for the whole of the world.

    All nations are nations meant to be humble, and as such, recognize their interdependence one with another. What would the USA be without Italian Spaghetti, Pizza, or Polish, German, Thai and Chinese food? How can the USA be the USA without a love for Tacos and Mexican food and culture? Where would England be without its tea from China and India? National identities and distinctions are God-driven elements, and yet are not all nations intended to be ultimately humble and inclusive at their core?

    This too is then the take of Jesus when he says the summary of the law is to love God with all your heart, and then love your neighbor (Egypt, Samaria, Arab Peoples) as yourself (Matthew 22:39). Why would that be that we should love our neighbor as ourselves? _______________ As we fill in the blank, we suddenly realize that we cannot be ourselves without loving our neighbors.

    Israel cannot be Israel without upholding Egypt in its heart. Israel must love Egypt as itself, because Egypt is very much part of itself. Our very own identity is tied to love.

    We see this Biblically with the gemstones of Ephraim and Manasseh being carried on the breastplate of the High Priest. Each tribe a different glory, each one to be loved, prayed for, and held together in national unity.

    May the Shalom of God come to Israel, but may “Israel” realize that it cannot become fully Israel without practicing the inclusive love of God out into the nations.

    This is just who God is, and calls ‘His nation’ (or all of His Kingdom) to model greater character and humble service. A good place to start is across the street, or in this case, on the other side of walls.

    Greater love and humility in mutual service, is the final answer to which I believe God awaits.

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