So, where are we now? We’ve just read of God’s plan of salvation for the Gentiles and the role played by the Jewish people in this. Earlier we read of the balance that God intended, of a Church with Jew and Gentile working together and worshipping together.
The Church needs to find this balance like never before, but to achieve this there are dangers for both Jewish and Gentile believers.
Jewish believers need to keep a tight rein on how far they go in this important task of helping to restore the balance. At the end of the day they are, as are all Christians, Our Lord’s representatives on Earth. There’s a danger that they may start ‘believing the publicity’, of those Christians, discussed in an earlier article, who, perhaps unintentionally, place Jewish believers on a pedestal. One such pastor always joked when he met me of touching the hem of my garment and receiving a blessing. Is it a joke, or is there something else there?
We must not give into pride. It’s one thing being proud of your heritage, but it’s another to use this to feel superior to other, Gentile, believers. It’s just not on and can do nothing but harm to this precarious balance we strive for. Of all the ‘deadly sins’, pride is said to be the most lethal, as it is the one that places us at the centre of everything, and relegates God to a mere bit-part in the scheme of things. We must continue to remind ourselves that God originally chose the Jews, despite themselves, not because of a natural superiority. He chose them for no other reason than it was them that He chose! So no boasting over the grafted-in branches!
The danger for Gentile believers, when they strive to restore this balance, is also to go too far. Messianic fellowships have been founded, where Jews and Gentiles meet together, with an emphasis given to a Hebraic expression of faith in the teaching, liturgy and worship. They tend to still be predominantly Gentile in the UK, with typically no more than 30% of the membership being from a Jewish background. In areas with few Jews I have heard of some such fellowships with not a single Jew in the congregation. One can respect and understand the needs and motivation behind such expressions of faith, but one can also sense the dangers.
Imagine an unsaved Jew arriving at a Messianic fellowship with few (or no) Jews, where Hebrew songs are sung, Jewish festivals are celebrated and where many of the prayers are based on the Jewish prayer book. Would this be a good witness to a Jew, conscious of a history of persecution and hatred by the Christian world? His immediate impression is to see the natural and horrific conclusion of 17 centuries of Jewish persecution at the hands of Christians. They have stolen our possessions, our wellbeing, and our lives and now they steal our culture and heritage!Have they left us nothing? I have been to such fellowships where Gentiles have worn skullcaps and prayer shawls, speak Yiddish and declare, in their testimony, that Messianic Judaism (rather than Jesus) has saved them! I know this is an extreme case, but, to repeat an earlier verse, Gentiles, particularly those who profess to love the Jewish people, must realise that salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. Are your actions in accordance with this command?
Gentile Christians who have studied the Jewish roots of their faith have been mightily enriched, particularly when they are able to teach others in their churches or worship with like-minded believers in Messianic fellowships. But – and this is a BIG BUT – unless there is a genuine and demonstrable love for the Jewish people – it can be seen as a selfish exercise, carried out just for personal blessing. It may bless you but in no way is it blessing the Jewish people or providing a balance in our expressions of our faith. Sure, you can learn from the Jewish roots, but don’t neglect the very people who literally shed their blood to ensure that these teachings have survived to enrich you. It’s not rocket science. Just treat your Jewish neighbour first as a human being and the Holy Spirit will do the rest.
Returning to the article by Kay Wilson, it is worth paying heed to her conclusion. “We must learn to embrace the paradox, through making a distinction between relationships with individual Jews and our views of the Jewish people as a whole. This will invite the God of Israel back onto centre stage and in doing so spur the Christian Zionist into the greatest expression of Biblical support for the Jewish people, first and foremost a Spirit-led relentless proclamation of the crucified and resurrected Jewish Messiah, the sole true hope and comfort of Zion. With the priority of salvation binding Jew and Gentile together, both will be able to stand in mutual depravity yet God-given dignity before the throne of Messiah. Only then will both be able to wonder in awe at the election of Israel; only then will the tension between God’s fairness and His sovereign choices be truly understood.”
For the next article in this series, click here.
For the previous article in this series, click here.
You can reach Steve with any comments or questions at the Saltshakers Web Community website.
What happens when Jews and Gentiles worship together?
Written by: Miriam Emenike
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