"Jerusalem! Jerusalem! Murderer of prophets! Killer of the ones who
brought you God’s news! How often I’ve ached to embrace your children,
the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you wouldn’t let
me. And now you’re so desolate, nothing but a ghost town. What is there
left to say? Only this: I’m out of here soon. The next time you see me
you’ll say, ‘Oh, God has blessed him! He’s come, bringing God’s rule!’" Matthew 23:37-39 (TM)
I had just arrived in Jerusalem when George, one of my guides, commented how much he disliked the city. I thought this an odd comment. and asked him why. "It’s dark. All of these religions focused on one place, and it is so spiritually dark." Over the next few days I came to realize what he meant. If you want religion then you can find it in Jerusalem. You can’t spit without hitting a shrine, holy place, historical marker or a spiritual pilgrim making their way to a shrine, holy place or historical marker. I would argue that there’s more religion in Jerusalem than any place in the world.
And yet, in Jerusalem there is also more anger, hatred, misunderstanding, conflict and persecution than any other piece of land in the world. Religion does not produce what God is after. Only a relationship with him can produce what God is after: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.