Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
But what of the Jews? Now that there is a growing Jewish component to the Body of Christ, perhaps things can change for the better?Something has to change. Let’s dream a bit. What would our One New Man Church look like, this holy temple in the Lord, if the passage in Ephesians had actually been followed? I’m not sure but I am quite certain that it wouldn’t have looked like any fellowship that I have visited claiming to be ‘One New Man’. Yes, this may seem to be judgemental of me, but, to be honest, if we are going to base a ministry on a passage of Scripture then the very least we should do is … base the ministry on the passage of Scripture. Here are some questions that need to be asked regarding the Shalom of Oneness that we need to see implemented in such ministries:
- How Jewish are they? How many of their practices are taken from post-Biblical rabbinic traditions?
- How Gentile are they? How many Gentile practices are rejected or overlooked?
- Are they always places where Jews are Jews and Gentiles are Gentiles?
- Are they places that actively promote peace between Jew and Gentile?
This is simply an observation, not a condemnation. These fellowships are as valid as any other, as long as they are initiated by God and run according to Biblical principles. The question that I really want to pose for further thought is this:
Could there be a better way?
The rest of this section will explore this question further and may hopefully prompt some considered thought. I believe that we are at the beginning of a wonderful journey. Here is my premise. What can we learn from the Jewish experience over the centuries? We know what Gentiles have brought to the table, so to speak, good and bad, because we see this in the Church as it exists today. But the Jews, forced to live a precarious existence thanks to the Gentile Church, have survived bloodied but intact. And they have a story to tell. I am going to attempt to analyse the Jewish experience, explore what the One New Man Church might have looked like, and still could look like, if your Christian forbears hadn’t made that tragic decision to abandon the Jewish roots of their faith.
Here’s a thought to whet your appetite. First, let’s consider that well-known verse from Romans 11 about the Jewish people:
Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring! (Romans 11:11-12)
Now let’s turn it on its head and rephrase it. This time, imagine the Gentile Church being the subject of the passage:
Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation is now coming back to the Jews to make the Church envious. And how much greater riches are the Jews bringing through the restoration of the Hebraic roots of the faith, lost for centuries!
And what are these greater riches? Well, we have already seen two of them, the gifts of the Sabbath and the Passover Seder service. They are both spoken of in Leviticus 23, introduced by the following:
The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘These are my appointed festivals, the appointed festivals of the Lord, which you are to proclaim as sacred assemblies. (Leviticus 23:1-2)
Appointed festivals, appointed times, Moedim in Hebrew. At no other time are people of God instructed to proclaim sacred assemblies, so you get a sense of how important Shabbat (Sabbath), Pesach (Passover) and the rest of the Biblical feasts, particularly Shavuot (Pentecost) and Succoth (Tabernacles) are to God. If they are important for Him then ….
You may want to now visit this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbumtZy1Lsc&t=31s
This is an extract from the book, Shalom, available for £10 at https://www.sppublishing.com/shalom-239-p.asp
How can Jews and Gentiles learn to play nicely together in the Church