Dirge for Jamis on the Funeral Plain, from “Songs of the Muad’Dib” by the Princess Irulan
quoted from pg 126 of Frank Herbert’s novel
This book outlines a vast mission and vision. At first it can seem overwhelming both in the scope it entails and in the sacrifice it requires.
“Strategic Mission,” pg 164
Tent of David: Healing the Vision of the Messianic Gentile
Part of the Returning to the Tent of David series
Ever since I’ve been writing about my “re-review” of Boaz’s TOD book and the re-evaluation of my “mission” in my local church, I’ve received a certain amount of pushback in various online venues, speaking of “coming out” of the church, as if the church was some kind of prison or trap. Some people talk about being “unequally yoked,” as if the “Messianic Gentile” and the church-going Christian are not the same and are even diametrically opposed spiritual beings.
The quote from Boaz’s book I posted above reminds me of the difference between the first day of class and mid-terms. I remember in any class I took, no matter how difficult the subject, the first day was always a breeze because there were no expectations of me yet. By the time mid-terms rolled around though, I always knew if I was going to be OK, or if I was in way over my head.
I took a lot of notes as I was going over TOD again, but I decided I wasn’t going to use most of them. I don’t want to re-analyze every page of what Boaz wrote. I want to analyze how I am now against who I was a year ago when I was anticipating a return to church. I struggled greatly against my own inhibitions. It finally took the mocking of someone I disagree with a great deal to push me forward. He too “went back to church,” even as he complained about it (and the irony is not lost on me as I type these words).
True imitation of our Master was practiced by no one better than Paul, who left Jerusalem, the Temple, and the apostolic community behind to go through the Diaspora and spread the message of the kingdom.
“Becoming a Shaliach,” pg 94
If I look at my TOD experience in church as a “diaspora” experience, I’ll forever be alienated from church and only be a perpetual visitor. On the other hand, the model of Boaz’s TOD book is focused on the “Messianic Gentile” as a messenger, an emissary, a “sent out one.” Paul founded many Gentile churches, but though he was united with the non-Jewish disciples in Messiah, he was never a part of them in many other ways. He was a Jew, a Pharisee of Pharisees, a Benjaminite, circumcised on the eighth day, obedient to the mitzvot, bound to the Torah of Moses and the Temple, even as he was bound to Messiah.
But the flip side of the coin is that the “Messianic Gentile” isn’t in church to illustrate how different he or she is from Christians but that it is the Jewish Messiah King who unites them…who unites all of us.
I have a Jewish friend who has been very kindly encouraging me to realize that Jesus is a false Messiah and that I should join the ranks of the Noahides; become a “righteous Gentile.” He sees Christianity, no matter how well intended, as ultimately anti-semitic, just as my wife sees the Church. If he’s right, then my efforts in emulating the Master and his emissaries are doomed to failure. If Boaz is right, then imitating my Master makes me stronger than anyone could possibly imagine.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
–Philippians 4:13 (NASB)
But such strength must be in God’s service.
These are all vitally important concepts, but cannot compare to the work of God in reconciling humanity to himself and consummating his entire creation through Yeshua the Messiah.
-ibid, pg 102
Later in the same chapter, Boaz speaks of the Chabad chasidim who are sent out into the world and who believe their efforts are watched over by the Rebbe. How much more should disciples of Messiah feel the watchful eye and empowerment of our Master in our endeavors?
Boaz also speaks of setting priorities, not losing the vision, and being silent rather than talking as the situation demands. As I went through his book again, I found I could argue against a lot of his optimism, but if that’s true, then maybe I’m the wrong man for the job…or I just want to be.
I can make excuses or I can persevere. If I am doing the will of my Master, then I will continue. If I’m not, then whatever I do will fade.
For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
–Acts 5:36-39 (NASB)
No, I am not comparing myself to the apostles in any sense. I am not worthy to wash the dust from their feet. And yet, the principle is sound. I do nothing on my own, but only what I do when I’m in my Master.
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
–John 15:5 (NASB)
Even in pleading with critics of this “mission” to not see the “Messianic Gentile” and “Christians” as separate things, I’ve been making the distinction myself. Even considering myself on a “mission” in church makes the distinction. That’s intolerable because in making such a distinction, I’m implying that I’m somehow “better” or “higher” than the people I worship with every week. But I’ve forgotten something.
In fact, I’ve forgotten the most important thing of all: to seek God where ever I happen to be. If I’m in a church, my purpose is to seek an encounter with God. If I’m in a synagogue, that it is also my purpose. It’s the same if I’m praying alone at home, if I’m in Sunday school, if I’m meeting a few Christian men for coffee, if I’m meeting my Pastor in his office.
If that “mission” is forgotten, the overwhelming priority to meet with God and serve God in every situation and circumstance, then everything that follows is a mere shadow by comparison or in fact, nothing at all.
But if I believe I am serving God, encountering God, encouraging others to encounter God by envisioning Jesus Christ as the Jewish Messiah King, the Moshiach, the Holy One of Yisrael, then I must be in the Church and of the Church without having my convictions and my vision dissolved.
Another step to blessing the church is to maintain your distinctiveness as a Messianic Gentile. Be different; exemplify the change you wish to see in mainstream Christianity.
-ibid, “Restoring the Tent of David,” pg 148
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
I must be who I am and who I am learning to be, because it is God who made me. No matter where I am and what I’m doing I must be that person. To me, this is the only way to be in church and to live out what I’m seeing in the TOD book. To see it any other way, is to be disingenuous in my Christian worship and to possess ulterior motives in every conversation I have with other believers.
The interface, the transactions, the meetings, the worship, the study, everything I do in church and with Christians (or anywhere else) is the crucible in which we burn away the differences and the inconsistencies and finally arrive at the true Jesus, the Messiah, the King, the High Priest in the Heavenly Mishkan (Tabernacle).
It’s not being the change I wish to see, but being the person God wants me to be. Then, if God choses, that person people see will be one of His agents of change. If what I have to say and the life I’m living is worthy, then Messiah will be visible through me as who he really is, the King of Israel, the final inheritor of the Throne of David ben Yishai.
As I was reading the last pages of Boaz’s book, I was feeling the weight of his words. After all I’ve just written, I am, in the end, just flesh and blood. How could so much ride on someone like me?
Arrakis teaches the attitude of the knife — chopping off what’s incomplete and saying: “Now, it’s complete because it’s ended here.”
-from “Collected Sayings of Muad’Dib”
by the Princess Irulan
quoted from pg 137 of Frank Herbert’s novel
If I am indeed the branch in the vine, then I will not be cut off. If I’m not, nothing can keep me from being “complete” in the manner of the quote above. I must have faith that God did not give me life for a vain purpose.
The day is short, the task is abundant, the laborers are lazy, the wage is great, and the Master of the house is insistent.
-Pirkei Avot 2:20
He is indeed. And I must listen more carefully to his voice, tarry on each command, ponder his meaning, savor his teachings, sit at his feet as does the faithful servant, and in letting him show me how to become myself, the man God made me to be, the clay jar in the potter’s hand, I will be the shaliach, the lamp, and the light that goes forth into the world, not for my sake, but for God’s.
This is the end of my Tent of David review. I only ask one thing. If there are other TOD shaliach online, perhaps we could dialog with each other. Is anybody out there?