Gentiles in Messiah have been transformed by Yeshua’s redeeming work and, as we shall see, are more than just mere Noachides or first-century God-fearers. Those of us from the nations should be proud of who God created us to be. We have an important opportunity to be a light for HaShem and his kingdom that only we can be. Together with our Jewish brothers and sisters in Messiah, we must work towards establishing Messiah’s kingdom and the rule of Torah, while at the same time accepting our own unique roles. At the same time, some may wonder whether it matters if a person is called a Jew or a Gentile.
Aren’t we all one new man in Messiah? Doesn’t the Torah say that there shall be one law for both the stranger and the native-born alike? In the next chapter, we will consider the context of those passages that seem to apply the same standard and obligation of Torah law to both Jews and Gentile believers.
from his soon to be released book:
God-Fearers: Gentiles and the God of Israel
Chapter 1, pp 24-25
This book just became available from First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) but I managed to get my hands on an advance copy last week at the FFOZ Shavuot conference, so I was able to read it several days ago. The first thing I thought of when I finished chapter one was the 1992 Newsboys pop song I’m Not Ashamed (boy, it was good to hear that song again). Of course the song focuses on Christians who are hesitant to share their faith in a world dominated by secular values, but I applied it to how a lot of non-Jews in the Messianic movement seem “ashamed” or “embarrassed” just to be Gentiles in a Jewish religious context. I’ve met more than a few non-Jews in the movement who somehow feel that being a Gentile just isn’t good enough. They seem to think that being Jewish is where the “action” is.
I’ve already written about the absolutely fabulous role that Gentiles play in God’s plan in the redemption of national Israel and the return of the Messiah (see Redeeming the Heart of Israel, Part 1 and Part 2). That means I certainly believe we have no reason whatsoever to be ashamed, embarrassed, or put off about not being Jewish and still worship and honor God in Messianic Judaism. Nevertheless, these emotions are ubiquitous among Gentiles in the various flavors of Messianic Judaism. I suspect this is the motivation, conscious or otherwise, for some Gentiles to be attracted to either the One Law or Two-House theologies (although I know this isn’t true of everyone in those two traditions), each of which require some “equalization” of Jews and Gentiles within Messianic Judaism though a process of homogenization of Jewish and Gentile distinction.
About the only other “cure” (besides just getting past this insecurity and being delighted in who God made you to be) for this condition among some (but far from all) Messianic Gentiles, is to leave the Messianic movement entirely, abandoning faith in the Jewish Messiah King and converting to some other form (usually Orthodox) of Judaism. This is pretty much “throwing out the baby with the bath water” and our movement has been torpedoed (yes, I said “our” since even though I’m a Christian, I can still embrace Jesus as the Jewish Messiah within his correct context) on multiple occasions by people who are struggling with personal faith and identity issues.
I must admit, I can hardly be critical of these folks since more than once I’ve been severely tempted to “throw in the towel” myself, not only in terms of the Messianic perspective, but as far as any faith tradition at all. This life can be miserably hard and lonely and it would be easier to follow the path of least resistance and to either join and blend into a traditional church or just forsake Jesus altogether and enter into the masses of the secular herd.
But I just can’t make myself do it. I can’t make myself walk away. Some incredible drive keeps pulling me back, like an enormous elastic band holding me to the center of God so that I can only run so far away from Him before being snapped back.
The marketing material for Toby’s book wasn’t available from FFOZ when I originally wrote this “meditation,” so my full review won’t appear for the next day or so. I will tell you though, that the direction this book takes dovetails quite nicely with FFOZ’s current and future vision and frankly, it works very well with my vision, too.
Like many Christians who have been involved in the Messianic movement for a while, I’ve gone through the “developmental phase” of almost hating being a Gentile and longing to discover some hidden “crypto-Jewishness” in my genealogy. I never found any, which is fortunate, because if I did, it would have robbed me of the opportunity to discover that God loves Gentile Christians, too and that He has a very specific and incredibly vital role in His plan just for us.
But the most important gift I received over the past week that I want to share with you, is that we don’t have to be ashamed or embarrassed because we’re not Jewish. We don’t have to be jealous of envious of Jews and their unique covenant relationship with God. We have something that is better even than sons and daughters. We have the right to be called God’s sons and daughters. We have the right to be the precious crown jewels among the nations.
I’m not ashamed. You don’t have to be either.
Addendum: I’ve been reminded recently that there are many congregations of non-Jews in Hebrew Roots who are not looking to create their own “Judaism.” Instead, they seek to express their worship and devotion to God in a manner that acknowledges the Jewishness of Jesus. If that’s you and you are perfectly fine being a Gentile Christian in a Messianic Jewish or Hebrew Roots congregation, then this blog post may not be speaking to you. That’s OK, too.