This is my new friend Daniel Yacoub. Daniel was our guide at the Church of the Nativity, the place where Jesus Christ was born. This is in Bethlehem. We met Daniel, he got on our bus and walked with us to the church. I thought this was a little unusual; I’d never taken a guide into the church before. But Sam told me that it is was just something that they have started doing now, to keep people from walking down the streets, as well as providing a little order to the area.
At first, I was a little skeptical. I mean, we’ve got Sam Morris, why do we need a guide?
But, Daniel works with Bo’ez Field souvenir store, where I always encourage groups to purchase their souvenirs. This store is run by Christians, and they use the money that they made to support the Christian community. I often say that it is a literal Acts 2 church, a church literally taking care of widows and orphans. Also, with my reading of Acts 15, when the Gentiles became Christian, the Jerusalem church says that one of the things these more prosperous Christians should do is remember the poor in Jerusalem. That describes us in the West to a T. I believe we have an obligation to remember and support our poor brothers and sisters in this part of the world.
So, I gave Daniel a chance. And man he was good. He knew his stuff. He took us around, showed us everything. But I want to tell you what he told us.
We had just finished touching the star through which you can touch the rock on which Jesus was born. And Daniel was telling us about being a Christian. It’s not easy being a Christian in this part of the world. They are shrinking minority. They aren’t trusted by fellow Palsteitnies that are Muslim because the are “Nazarene,” followers of Jesus. They aren’t trusted by the Israelis because they are Palestinian. They literally just have their community to support and care for one another.
By the way as an aside, let us never, ever, ever mistake any discomfort we may feel in the West for the actual persuasion that my friend Daniel faces here in this part of the world.
Daniel once asked his father, how he could tell a Christian. He said that on the outside Christians and Muslims look the same. His father said look at the face. He said that a Christian has been touched by the Messiah. You can tell it in the face. You can tell that the Messiah has placed His hand on them, has touched them, has changed them. You can tell it on their face. You can look it the face of a fellow believer and tell that they have been touched by the Savior.
I am supposed to read the story of Jesus birth at this time. But as Daniel tells us this, I start to cry. This my friends. This is the most beautiful explanation of what it means to be a Christian that I’ve ever heard, and it comes from someone in the place where Jesus was born.
A Christian is one that has been touched by the Messiah. You can tell it when you look at them in the face. Jesus said the eyes are the windows to the soul.
Pray for each other. Love each other. Pray for our brothers and sisters in this part of the world. Pray for brothers and sisters under the control of ISIS.
And y’all, seriously. For those of us in the West that don’t take our faith seriously, we’ve got to do better. I’m always convicted about that when I come here. How distracted I get. How I focus on things that don’t matter. We’ve been given so much here in the West, and we’ve got to be faithful and to use it.
Remember my friend Daniel, pray for him and for his family.
And remember a Christian is one that has been touched by the Messiah.