Tag Archives: reconciliation

Day Zero

divide-by-zeroThat fall, Pastor S. from a church in another county came to our church to share in a morning service how they felt led to the mission field and were going to go to another country. S. shared his testimony followed by his wife L. L’s testimony paralleled my life closely, baptized at an early age, regular in church and youth activities but still felt empty. However in her early 20s she realized that she had not admitted that she personally was a sinner and that Christ’s death was for her. At that moment, God opened my eyes and I realized why I had been feeling guilty as my own pastor was preaching. I know the facts about Christ, his birth, life and death but had never applied them personally to myself. I had never admitted I personally was a sinner destined to hell without the shed blood of Jesus and had not believed in the reason for his death on the cross. My sin.

-Testimony found in last Sunday’s church bulletin.

There’s more to the writer’s testimony but I decided to quote just the portion specific to this blog post and of course, I took out any information that might identify the parties involved. This is Day Zero, the last few hours of the last day. At midnight tonight, time runs out in my countdown.

Yesterday, I went to church. It was interesting.

I walked in the side door and immediately ran into Pastor Randy. He smiled and greeted me. In a very friendly way, he asked where I’d been the last couple of weeks (he wouldn’t be the only one). He also surprised me. The day I met him and we had our rather lengthy chat in his office, I had volunteered to do some work for the church that is within my skill set. He hadn’t brought it up again, but yesterday, he said he talked with the deacons and they’d like me to proceed. He’ll email me later this week to set up a meeting and tell me what he has in mind. I’ll keep the nature of the work to myself for now, but in the moment that Pastor brought it up, I knew I was committed to the church. Actually, I knew that before I walked in the door that morning.

I also saw Charlie, who teaches my Sunday school class. He said he’d been thinking about me and wondering where I was. I saw Dick and Virgil and a number of other people whose names I still can’t remember (I’m getting better at it, though). People were friendly, but the friendliness was a different quality. I can’t explain it in so many words, but I felt more welcome somehow. As my wife says, maybe what’s different was my attitude.

Church was still church. There was a brief DVD presentation made by missionaries in the Congo. They baptized 18 people in the first month they were there. They make bricks for their worship structure out of clay that has to be dried in the sun. After the first Sunday service, a storm blew the thatch roof off of the structure and they had a “church work day” to put it back up. Services are spoken in French and then translated into one of the indigenous languages. It’s a different world, and yet, we’re all human beings on a journey to encounter God in our lives.

Pastor spoke on Acts 8:9-25. I’d recently covered the same material in D. Thomas Lancaster’s Torah Club Vol. 6, Chronicles of the Apostles, and Pastor Randy’s treatment of Philip’s encounter with Simon in Samaria seemed very different from Torah Club. The immediate impression I got was that the church was trying a little too hard to apply a modern Christian sense of evangelism to people and events that are 2000 years distant. Ancient Judaism likely didn’t concern itself with how converting someone of Simon Magus’s statue would be a big accomplishment.

But he said something else that made more sense.

Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed…Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.

Acts 8:14, 17-21 (ESV)

simon-the-magicianWhen Simon first hears the Good News from Philip, it seems like he too comes to faith in the Jewish Messiah King and is willing to reconcile his life to the will of the God of Israel. In other words, it seems like he has converted to Christianity. But his subsequent response to seeing the giving of the Holy Spirit indicates that he completely misunderstands what he is observing and what his faith in God is supposed to really mean. Pastor Randy says there is a faith that doesn’t save. And he said more than that.

He ran off a litany of verses from the New Testament, all “convicting Christians of their sin.” Verses such as 2 Cor. 13:5, Gal. 5:19-21, Eph 5:5-6, 1 Jn 3:6-10. Here’s another one.

For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:5-11 (ESV)

One of the objections I hear about “going to church” from believers who are not church-goers is that the church gives a whitewashed, “feel good” message, that doesn’t communicate the reality of the Bible, sin, and salvation. That may be true in other churches but it wasn’t in the one I attended last Sunday. It was anything but “whitewashed, feel-good.” The quote I opened this “meditation” with is part of that message. The message is that just because you believe, you may not have a terrifically realistic grip on the consequences of your belief. If you call yourself a Christian or a believer, but still can violate the Word of God with no feelings of guilt, anguish, or remorse, what you have may not even be what is called “faith.” Believing isn’t enough.

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!

James 2:19 (ESV)

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV)

Think about the author of the text I quoted from at the top of this blog post. If he hadn’t experienced God’s message about his life, at the end of all things, he might have been one who the Master declared that “I never knew you…depart from me!” How horrible that a person might live that long and believe they are truly in the service of God through Jesus Christ only to be told to their face that they have been woefully mistaken about what faith means. Even performing great signs and wonders isn’t meaningful. Simon in Samaria was a magician who was called “great,” and yet his magic meant nothing to God.

hourglassIn the days of the Torah the great magician Balaam was commissioned by Balak, a King, to curse the Children of Israel. Balaam spoke with God and an angel of the Lord appeared to Balaam, but he was no servant of the God of Israel (see Torah Portion Balak). Yes, what you do matters (James 2:14-24), but behavior, purpose, and intent all go hand in hand. Everyone has times of doubt when we wonder if God will ever come near, including me, but there comes a time that we can’t simply wait on God to tell us what we need to know, we must pursue God with all of our strength, our will, and our resources. If He is our goal, then we have only one avenue to reach it; Jesus Christ and a true and saving faith in the promises of the Messiah.

There’s much more to do once faith is affirmed or reaffirmed, but sometimes you need to touch home plate to make sure your foundation is solid. It’s like I went to church and God asked me, “Do you know what you’re doing here?” “Do you know what you want?” “Are you sure you want this?” The answer is either “yes” or “no.”

My time is up. The clock is running to zero. Before the last hours, minutes, and seconds ticked down and the hourglass emptied, I said, “yes.”

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A Walk to Redemption

WalkingThe chassidic community in Poland was in a state of shock. The great chassidic master Rabbi Moshe of Lelov had decided to ascend to the Holy Land and settle there. How could they possibly go on without his leadership?

To his closest disciples the rebbe revealed that when he was a small boy, his father, Rabbi David of Lelov, had said to him: “I did not merit to see the Holy Land, but you must go there. Through your divine service which you will perform there, you will succeed in bringing Moshiach sooner, and hastening the Redemption.”

-Rabbi Yerachmiel Tilles
“The Shattered Goblet”
Chabad.org

Last spring, after Shavuot, I wrote a two-part meditation called “Redeeming the Heart of Israel,” Part 1 and Part 2. I received a certain amount of criticism because I was perceived as somehow elevating Israel and the Jewish people above the non-Jewish believer in the Messiah. While the church is slowly moving away from its stance of supersessionism (I know, I used that word, again) and anti-Israel/anti-Jewish beliefs, it is still difficult for many Christians to take Paul at his word and believe that “all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:26)

Part of the problem is understanding what redemption means. From a traditional Christian point of view, individuals are redeemed; we are saved by our faith in Jesus Christ, which generally means, when we die, we go to Heaven. All seems so nice and simple and reassuring. But that’s generally not how Jews see the concept of redemption and the coming of Messiah. As we see from Rabbi Tilles’ story, it is clear that the coming of the Messiah is closely coupled with the redemption of national Israel, not necessarily focused on each individual’s redemption (although this too is important). However, the Jewish point of view is often criticized by Christians as extra-Biblical and thus invalid.

But is this actually true or did Christ’s own disciples believe he was supposed to accomplish Israel’s national redemption?

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Acts 1:6-8 (ESV)

I’ve mentioned all this before, but I don’t know if anyone is taking the message seriously. I’m not trying to “undo” or contradict the doctrine of personal salvation through Jesus Christ, but to illustrate that one of the things he will do upon his return, that was expected the first time he was here but not accomplished, is to restore Israel as a nation to a state of rule over the earth, and return the Jewish people to their Land and heritage in glory and honor.

That’s the part some Christians, including some of those in the Hebrew Roots movement, have a problem with. The “inequality” among the body of believers in the form of salvation coming from the Jews. (John 4:22) Traditional Christianity has historically taught (and thankfully, this is changing) that the church has replaced the Jews in all of the covenant promises, and that Jesus killed the Torah in the process. Hebrew Roots maintains that the Torah still lives, but that the distinctions between Jew and (Christian) Gentile have been totally eliminated and there is only one new identity before God, the “Messianic” identity, despite the fact that God has promised to be a God to the Jewish people forever, to return them to their Land, and to establish Israel as the head of all the nations (i.e. the rest of us).

If you read all of Rabbi Tilles’ tale, you’ll see that sadly, Rabbi Moshe of Lelov never accomplished his mission to reach the Kotel and summon the Moshiach. It is believed that this occurred because the time for the Moshiach’s arrival had not yet come. While Christianity doesn’t believe we can do anything to hasten the return of Jesus, Jews believe by performing acts of tikkun olam or “repairing the world,” that we all, Jews and Gentiles alike, can take part in bringing the time of his coming (or return) just a little bit closer.

In the face of everything I’ve just said, we Christians have a couple of choices. We can accept that the Bible is telling us that we are dependent on the Jews for our salvation through the Jewish Messiah and our covenant relationship with the God of Israel, or we can ignore those parts of the Bible that present this information and focus on either the traditional church doctrine of supersession, or one of the variants being created in minority movements within larger Christianity (which includes Hebrew Roots in general and it’s subgroups such as One Law, which indeed is a Christianity and not a “Judaism”).

Probably the most lively debate on this topic currently happening (though it seems to be winding down) in the blogosphere is on Gene Shlomovich’s blog. I’m actually learning a great deal from a few of the individuals posting (and I may mine some of those comments and pull them together for a future “meditation”), mixed in with the more expected objections to Jewish “choseness” within the Messianic body. But I struggle to remember a lesson that I very recently wrote discouraging the acceptance of someone else’s “gift” of their own anger and hostility, which is not an easy task on the web, but one that is absolutely necessary if we are to truly call ourselves disciples of our Master.

We see in the early chapters of Acts that the community of disciples of Jesus Christ were all Jewish and that, upon accepting the Spirit and declaring their discipleship, the Jews did not deviate in any way from being Jewish. In fact, in the Torah Club commentary I’m reading this week, the early Jewish disciples are referred to as “The Temple Sect.”

Contrary to popular assumptions, the disciples did not teach against the Temple or the Levitical worship system. If the gospel did cancel the Torah and the Levitical worship system, the apostolic community in Jerusalem seems to have been ignorant about the change. They continued to revere the Temple and participate in its services throughout their lives.

The disciples of Yeshua revered the Temple because their Master revered it. He regarded the Temple as his “Father’s house.” As a boy, Yeshua was reluctant to leave the Temple courts. As an adult, He was found in the Temple teaching and attending the festival services. He spent the last days of His life, prior to his crucifixion, in the Temple. He prophesied its coming destruction only with sorrow and weeping…

After the ascension, his disciples “were continually in the temple praising God” (Luke 24:53). They were likely in the Temple when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them on the day of Pentecost. Aftr that, they remained day by day in the Temple together.

As I continue my study of the book of Acts in the First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) Torah Club, I hope to find that my perceptions are becoming clearer on these points, including what redemption truly means for Israel and the nations, and where we all stand, Jews and non-Jews, as brothers and sisters in the Messiah.

In my Days series, I’ve been recording my plans to return to more traditional Christian fellowship, in part to reconcile on some level with the larger body of Gentile believers. I don’t know how successful I will be, but I’ve been challenged to trust God more than I have in the past. Hopefully, the ground will remain firm rather than falling out from under me.

Walter Donovan (Julian Glover): As you can now see, Dr. Jones, we are on the verge of completing a quest that began almost two thousand years ago. We’re just one step away.

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford): That’s usually when the ground falls out from underneath your feet.

from the film
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Hopefully and with God’s grace, my journey toward reconciliation and redemption will also have a “happy ending.”

When I Was Foolish…

When I was young, and foolish I used to argue with Christian missionaries (I later graduated to arguing with OJ fundies, and have since realized that is foolish, too.)

-DovBear
“Matthew and midrash?”
dovbear.blogspot.com

Well, I’m not young but I guess I’m guilty of being foolish. I’ve been accused of being too “thin-skinned” before, but I seriously don’t believe that God intended our primary means of communication to be arguing and bickering. Recently, I was (again) told that I don’t understand the educational value of discussing disagreements. In fact, I do. I just don’t understand personalizing conflicts. I’ve recently dismissed the idea that we can engage in any sort of Chavruta debate on the web, and fortunately, since I wrote that blog post, no one has tried to challenge me on it…exactly.

I know that in the controversial world of religion, and particularly the variants of Christianity that we find in Hebrew Roots, there is a lot of disagreement. That’s not really a problem as such, but when people are called out by name in the title of blog posts, or “Anonymous” commenters feel free to use profanity in referring to a fellow brother in Christ, then there is a problem. The problem gets worse when blog owners are confronted and yet deny that there is any sort of difficulty with the management of their blog or with their own ideas about what constitutes treating a fellow believer (let alone, any human being) in a respectful and loving way.

Telling me, “I’m saying it all in love,” doesn’t really cut it, since anyone can scream, and carry on, and spout the most disagreeable accusations and assumptions about another’s character and then say, “but I’m saying it (sometimes “it” is in ALL CAPS, which is really screaming “it”) all in love.”

My calendar says it’s day 28 (out of 40) of repentance. Elul ends at sundown on Sunday, and I feel in no way ready to encounter God, Tishei, or Rosh Hashanah (and certainly not Yom Kippur). Not that I really have to I suppose, since of everything I just mentioned, only God appears on the typical Christian landscape, and the concepts of confession, repentance, and renewal aren’t (for the most part) tied to a particular time of year.

Nevertheless, the habit of considering the High Holidays and living with a Jewish wife make the days of repentance impossible to ignore, and if I feel the need to write a third “meditation” in one day, then obviously I’ve got some last-minute house cleaning to do.

I’m a really big fan of forgiveness, but I seem to have forgotten recently that one can forgive a difficult and unrepentant person and still not reconcile with them. I’ve been trying engage such a person, not with the idea of ever-changing what we disagree over, but with the hope of improving the process of our communication.

It didn’t work.

How can I maintain even a tenuous fellowship with someone who, although nowhere near perfect, continues to behave as if every conflict and disagreement they encounter is caused outside of themselves, and without recognizing that they too contribute to disagreement and discord?

I can’t. More to the point, I really don’t have the time or inclination to, in essence, beat my head against a stone wall. For the most part, I’ve already given up going to specific websites or blogs that I know will just raise my blood pressure and yield no positive fruit. I had hopes for one, but now I realize that seeking peace with God and with my fellow human being isn’t going to be accomplished by continuing to pursue what is, by definition, an individual with an adversarial (at least online) personality.

I’m not saying that people can’t post a comment on my blog and disagree with me. Far from it. I welcome differing points of view. I do draw the line at personalizing disagreements and certainly “name calling” is way over the line. However that doesn’t mean I have to go “looking for trouble” either. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” I think I’m going to take the Master’s advice and let trouble take care of itself. It doesn’t need my help.

I’ll certainly continue to visit and comment on blogs that I find uplifting and informative, but there’s enough craziness that happens in life just because it happens without me pursuing it and letting it aggravate me over what one of my instructors in Graduate school used to call “OPPs” (other people’s priorities).

If the High Holidays are for repairing and renewing relationships with God and other people, one of those relationships has to be with me. I think I’ll feel better about living in my own skin and be a better companion with everyone I connect with, if I follow a couple of pieces of advice from a sage advisor:

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. –Ephesians 4:29-32 (ESV)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. –Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)

The phrase “Charity begins at home” originated with Sir Thomas Browne but has been echoed by many others, including John Wycliff and Charles Dickens. In the same vein, I think peace, and particularly peace of mind begins “at home.” Sorry if this sounds a tad self-serving, but I’m going to focus on my peace of mind by thinking about things and associating with people who are honorable, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise.” I think I’ll be a nicer person and more like the person God wants me to be if I pursue that course.

As DovBear might say, “when I was young (though not actually young) and foolish, I used to argue with people who argued for its own sake.” By God’s grace, I’m not going to do that anymore.

Please feel free to visit my blog and if you disagree with me (and I don’t really mind), it’s OK to talk about it with me. Just keep personalities out of it. However, I’m no longer going to visit places in the blogosphere that forsake the ways of peace because they absolutely need to answer the clarion call, someone is wrong on the Internet.

Nitai the Arbelite would say: Distance yourself from a bad neighbor, and do not cleave to a wicked person.

– Ethics of our Fathers, 1:7

Peace.

Walking Together to the House of Prayer

Walking TogetherUnfortunately, intolerance among Jews can be found in all directions. Shortly after Kristallnacht, a Reform synagogue in Rhode Island conducted a special service to which they invited recent Jewish refugees from Europe. Many of those refugees came to the service wearing hats or kippot, which at the time was against Reform practices. A prominent member of the congregation demanded that everyone remove their head coverings. Although the rabbi of the congregation was extremely upset by the man’s behavior, he felt too intimidated to do anything.

Similarly, there are some Orthodox Jews who too easily brand their less observant coreligionists as “heretics” or “non-believers.” Yet, prominent sages such as Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook and the Chazon Ish have ruled that we live in a time of God’s concealment and therefore cannot apply the religious laws concerning heresy to modern-day Jews who question their faith. Furthermore, it is wrong to harm those who deny even Judaism’s most basic beliefs. Not only should we not hurt such people, we should help them if the situation ever presents itself.

from the Lev Echad blog
“E Pluribus Unum”

While blogger Asher aptly illustrates how different groups of Jews can be less than generous toward each other, this isn’t exclusively a Jewish issue. Certainly different groups in humanity have distrusted and harmed each other throughout history, and this can also be seen in various faith groups, including Christianity. The difference here is that, as I mentioned the other day, being Jewish isn’t just a matter of holding to a collection of beliefs or a certain faith. Jews are tied to each other and connected to God in a way no other people group can claim. Any Christian can renounce his or her faith, but a Jew is always a Jew.

I suppose it’s rather tragic for me to say that “any Christian can renounce his or her faith”. It makes it sound as if our commitment to Christ is too easily ignored or broken, and we see this sometimes. We also see, as Asher points out in Judaism, that the different denominations or groups of Christians cling to their own specific religious views and can take shots at each other, believing that if you don’t believe, say, and do as they believe, say, and do, you are not really a Christian and you are not really saved.

Christianity can be very “tunnel-visioned” in its approach to God and the Bible, especially for those groups that have a very literal understanding of what the Bible says (in English, ignoring the original languages and contexts involved). How Asher ended his blog article suggests another way that we Christians can look at each other, at Jews, and at the rest of humanity:

It takes a considerable amount of humility and tolerance to refrain from forcing our beliefs upon others, but that’s exactly what we should strive for. To do so, objective ethical standards must be upheld, while the more subjective areas of life can be left to the individual. It’s ironic that people tend to focus so much on the subjective when it is really the objective that matters most. For example, some regard those with whom they disagree politically or religiously as bad people, instead of simply judging their overall behavior to determine what kind of person they are. This needs to change if we are to produce a better world.

One of the unique aspects of Judaism is learning about all the different roads people take that lead them to God and a life of goodness. While this is certainly a fascinating phenomenon, it can also be a great impediment to how we treat one another. Therefore, our goal in life should not be to turn all our fellow Jews into ideological and/or religious replicas of ourselves. Rather, it should be to guide – not force – others into a life of serving God and His children in a way that best matches their individual personality.

Christians tend to look at the world as made up of two groups: saved and unsaved, us and them. While we are mandated (see Matthew 28:19-20) to go and make disciples (not converts, disciples) of the unbelieving people around us, we also sometimes see the unbelieving people around us as “the enemy”. It’s pretty difficult to convince a non-believer of the love of Christ if we don’t even like non-believers. It’s even harder to show the unbelieving world Christ’s love if they see that we don’t even like each other due to our different theologies.

Asher might suggest that we try to put our differences aside, both between different groups of Christians and between Christians and everybody else. Try to look at people the way God sees people:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. –John 3:16-17

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. –Romans 5:9-11

The opportunity to be reconciled to God is universally applied to all people everywhere. All we have to do is accept it and start living the life that God designed for us. He didn’t offer reconciliation to only a favored few and He didn’t extend His love only to a select group. It is true that God chose the Children of Israel, but it wasn’t because they were the best, the brightest, or the most numerous:

The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. –Deuteronomy 7:7-9

House of PrayerWe also know that God’s love is not limited to Israel but extends to the whole world (John 3:16) and that what He created in Israel was to be a light to the nations, so that we could all call the House of God, a house of prayer:

In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. –Isaiah 2:2-4

And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” –Isaiah 60:6-7

So here we are, fighting and bickering with each other without considering how God sees us all. He’s like a Father who watches His small children argue and fight about who He loves the best, but in truth, He loves us all, just as we love all of our children, even though they are different from each other, and even though they sometimes act foolishly.

I read something written by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman which he applies to the Jewish people, but I think we can also adapt it for the rest of us:

The sages tell us that our father Jacob never died. “Since his children are alive, he is alive.”

Each and every Jew is the personification of his father Jacob, and the heart of each and every Jew is alive and beating strong. To say about any one of them that he is spiritually dead is to pronounce our father Jacob dead. If to you it appears that way, the fault is in you, not in the Jew you observe.

G-d sees only good in them. He will make great miracles for them and they will be safe.

We could say that our “Rebbe”, Jesus the Christ, the Jewish Messiah, lives in the heart of each of his disciples. He died but has risen and he sits at the Father’s right hand. He is alive in us and he makes us alive in him so that through him, we can be sons and daughters of the Father. We absolutely must remember though, that God sees the good in all people and He will make great miracles for everyone, and accepting God, we will all be safe in Him.

Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song. –Psalm 95:1-2