As a Christian, I think it’s a great idea to go to Israel, to see where everything took place and learn more about the history of our faith and everything that goes with it.
Lately, they have been playing an advertisement on our Christian radio station for trips to Israel. I’m not against advertising it, not at all. But I find myself rather put off by this specific advertisement. The way the entire advertisement is presented, it sounds like it’s trying to play on Christians who feel like they are uncertain in their faith, or who doubt the presence of God; but more than that, it sounds like a commercial making a money grab by appealing to Christian’s emotional connections to their faith. Something which I have always firmly disagreed with in anything involving Christianity.
I know there is something magical and amazing about standing somewhere that history took place. I’m a history nut, so I know the sense of awe and undescribable feelings that come from going somewhere historical. In fact, I’m one of those really weird nuts, that has to touch the walls, and actually ‘feels’ the history coming to life.
But the way this commercial advertises, it sounds like it’s trying to tell you that only by visiting Israel will you be a stronger Christian in your faith with an increased connection to God.
One of the opening lines, is a man who sounds like he’s on a tv infomercial saying ‘What makes Jesus’ miracles even more miraculous? Experiencing them where they took place.”
Uhm, what now? I’m sorry, but the ONLY thing that could make Jesus’ miracles more miraculous would be by actually watching them take place. I’ll admit, standing where they happened would be pretty amazing. It would definitely be surreal and awesome. But a miracle can’t be more miraculous than it was. It’s not something that becomes ‘more’ in time. In fact, the ONLY thing that could make it more miraculous would be actually witnessing them as they happened. So unless Israel has suddenly figured out the trick to time travel, it’s not going to increase their level of ‘miracle’.
Later, the man tells you that you will ‘sense God’s presence like you’ve never felt it before’. This line I think, is what bugs me the most out of the entire commercial. As I said earlier, I think it’s a great idea to visit Israel, especially because I do believe that by going there, the reality of everything that happened will sink in a little bit more. But its not something that should define one’s faith. The way this line is spoken, it’s like they are suggesting that the only way you can experience God in His fullness is by visiting Israel, and that if you haven’t (or don’t) there is a part of His presence you will never discover.
Now, I get that Israel is the promised land, and that the Israelites are God’s chosen people, but, didn’t Christ die so that we could ALL have that relationship the Israelites have with Him? And even if, as His chosen people, their bond is stronger than the one we have, visiting Israel won’t make our bond stronger. It won’t suddenly make us ‘Israelite by association’ or give us a connection with God that we haven’t had before.
For some, maybe it will… maybe that is the way God intends to really boot up their faith, but that’s not everyone. God has a different path chosen for everyone on how they grow in their faith and how He makes His connection with them.
So now, you have an advertisement playing on that. And see, as a Christian, you are always desiring to get closer to God, to strengthen that connection. What happens to the people who allow their emotions to be pulled by this commercial, go for it, and then find when they leave that this visit did not increase the strength of their relationship with God, that this wasn’t where God intended to flood them with His presence. Chances are, they are going to start questioning and doubting a lot. Questions like ‘Why didn’t God connect with me there, when he does with everyone else?' and all those little things that eat at you will start to rise up.
All because of a commercial that makes promises it can’t fulfill.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m the only one who feels that way about it. I don’t doubt that visiting Israel would be a powerful experience that would certainly contain aspects that would help to strengthen your faith, and even help you find a way to get closer to God. It’s something to connect on. I just don’t think those kinds of promises are what should be used to convince people to go.