After reading Part 3 of this series you might be asking yourself, “So what if Christians feed the hungry and tend to the sick? Christians have always done that.” Yes, that’s my point exactly. What sort of significance and advantage were you looking for, anyway? Becoming a Christian is a little like joining the Army or the Red Cross. You get to do some good and some cool stuff, but you’ll always have to work hard, sacrifice for others, and often, set your own wants and needs aside for the sake of God’s Kingdom.
All of that, by the way, is referred to in religious Judaism as Tikkun Olam or “Repairing the World,” so as far as performing the Torah mitzvot as a Christian, you aren’t missing a thing. In fact, you are representing the very best of what the Jewish Messiah King had to teach his disciples.
But is there a direct relationship between being a Christian and Judaism? Put another way, relative to Jews in general and Messianic Jews in particular, is there a special role or advantage to being a Christian? Absolutely and in fact, I not only discovered this role months ago, but I wrote about it at length:
We in the church, have a critically important role and an incredibly powerful purpose in the plan of God and the coming of Jesus Christ. If we fail to fulfill our mission, absolutely everything is lost. Our responsibility is just unimaginably awesome. I cannot state this strongly enough.
In the Messianic movement, a great deal of dissonance has been created between Jews and non-Jews. Christians in the movement have generally been rejecting of, not the Jewish people, but the quality of their Jewishness, causing these Jews to push back to the point where some have suggested that no non-Jews participate in Messianic Judaism. Jews are made to feel that they should be ashamed when they act like ethnic, cultural, and religious Jews, and many Christians in the movement feel ashamed for being Gentiles, seeing themselves as “inferiors” to their Jewish brothers. This drives the need of many non-Jews to believe that “one law” fits all or that any Gentile attracted to Torah is a “crypto-Jew” from the lost tribes.
Now we see that both Jews and Christians are vital to the realization of God’s plan and the return of the Messiah. The nation of Israel must be the centerpiece of the world so that Messiah can rule and reign. Christians must support Israel’s return to the Torah or the nation will fail and we will never see the Messiah’s return. No one has to be ashamed of who they are, whether they’re Jewish or Christian, and I’m indebted to the brilliant, young Jewish scholar Jordan Levy for presenting this point just prior to Boaz’s final teaching. I also thank her for saying something I hope I’ll never forget and something I don’t want you to ever forget. She said that in fulfilling our role as supporters of the redemption of Israel, we become “the crown jewels of the nations.” What a wonderful blessing for us to have as we bless Israel and play our part in restoring her to God.
Blessed be the nation of Israel and may she return her heart to God and the Torah, that she may be redeemed and restored. And may the Messiah come soon and in our day.
If that isn’t enough to show you that we Christians are special, have many unique advantages, and have a wonderful, awesome, and exciting role in the Kingdom of God, then frankly, I don’t know what it’s going to take to get the point across.
Who are you and where should you go? I guess it depends. Many Christians who are already in a church or have ties to a church can continue to worship and serve God in a traditional church setting. I know that will rub some of my readers the wrong way, but if you think the church needs to change and become more kind and gentile to Judaism and Israel, you can be the change you want to see in the church by being part of the church.
That won’t work for everyone. It might not even work for me for many reasons, but there are alternatives. For instance, if there is a Messianic Jewish congregation in your area, one that is dedicated to preserving Judaism for Messianic Jews in an authentic and halachically correct manner, you can worship there. It’s no secret that probably 90% or more of the members of such synagogues aren’t Jewish. Some are married to Jewish spouses, but many synagogue members are Gentile believers who just seem to “fit” better in a Jewish worship context.
Many intermarried Christians occasionally or frequently worship with their Jewish spouses in a traditional (Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox) synagogue. In that context, you’ll be in the minority as a Gentile, but if your heart is turned toward Jewish worship, it is an acceptable alternative as long as you can maintain your faith in Jesus in a place where Christ will never be acknowledged.
There will always be disadvantages to any of these choices and I don’t doubt that some members of my audience will point them out to me in abundance. There is no perfect house of worship. There will always be “problems” and “challenges.” If you’re waiting for me to suggest Nirvana, I can’t give that to you.
What about joining or making a One Law congregation? It’s not illegal, immoral, or even fattening, and for ten years I worshiped the God of Israel and the Jewish Messiah in such a setting. We did our best to be at peace with each other, and with both traditional Judaism and Christianity, but as hard as we tried, beyond a certain point, we were always apart from those other groups. I suppose if that’s what it takes for you to feel unique, then no one can stop you, but as disciples of Jesus, we are supposed to be part of the larger body of Christ, not an excised organ or limb trying vainly to crawl away from the larger whole.
I believe that it is possible to be too comfortable in faith and belief. I think community requires a certain set of challenges, otherwise how can we grow spiritually and become closer to God? Creating a congregation in your own image and modeled after your personal wants and desires may sound incredibly appealing, but Christians have been reinventing the wheel for 2,000 years, and then watching it spin into new and different shapes and visions.
We don’t have to do that. The body is already here. We don’t have to make another one like some futile Dr. Frankenstein, robbing body parts that belong to others in order to “reinvent” Christianity once again. Find a congregation of some sort, a fellowship, a home Bible study. You’re probably surrounded by them in your community and don’t even know it. If Christian venues won’t do, some synagogues will allow non-Jews to join their Talmud, Hebrew, and other available classes, so if you are drawn more toward Jewish education, that’s also a possible option.
The one thing I do strongly suggest is that you don’t try to claim what already belongs to someone else. The “raincoat” (see Part 3) God gave you is good enough. In fact, it’s a fabulous coat and just in your size. If you borrowed someone else’s coat, it’s time to give it back. Once you are properly attired; once you are where God wants you to be, (and that isn’t always where you want to be) then you will be uniquely placed to raise the ancient Tent of David:
“In that day I will raise up
the booth of David that is fallen
and repair its breaches,
and raise up its ruins
and rebuild it as in the days of old,
that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations who are called by my name,”
declares the Lord who does this.
-Amos 9:11-12 (ESV)
In one of the great formative moments of Christianity, at the Jerusalem Council, when James and the apostles were discussing the role of the Gentiles who were coming to faith in Yeshua, James quoted Amos 9:11–12: “‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name,’ says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old” (Acts 15:16–18).
The Tent of David is a reference to the Davidic kingdom, which Amos envisions will encompass even the Gentiles, non-Jews who attach themselves to Israel and to Israel’s Messiah. James reckoned that the believing Gentiles of his day were the first fruits of the fulfillment of Amos’ prophecy.
God has already prepared a life and a role and significance for us in His plan for raising David’s Tent. We don’t have to invent it for ourselves, we just have to learn to recognize what we already have. We don’t have to be someone we’re not or take an identity that seems better than ours. We are unique, and we are wonderful, and our lives are awesome just as God made them…just as God made us to be.
The hall is rented. The stage is set. The audience is waiting. The curtain is about to rise. All you have to do is take your place and perform the role God has given to you. He has given different roles to others and you may not have those roles because they weren’t written for you. Trust me and if not me, trust God. Your role is more than significant. It is special, and wonderful, and it is yours.
Being a Christian is as good as you let it be. Let it be good.