by Gus Wheeler
For many Gentile Christians, the thought of embracing Israel, the Jewish people, the Jewish roots of the Christian faith or anything that appears Jewish (such as keeping the Sabbath or celebrating the feasts of the Lord), causes them to run the other way. There is often an apparent fear that they will become 'Judaized' (converted to Judaism and/or in some kind of bondage, 'under the law,'). Thus, it is a fear of losing their Christian identity and losing the freedom they have in God's grace. This fear, it would seem, stems from one or more of the following: 1. they are not secure in their own possession of God's saving grace by faith to begin with, 2. they harbor underlying roots of anti-Semitism, 3. they hold to the mistaken theology that the Church has permanently replaced Israel in God's plan and therefore Israel or the Jews are no longer relevant or important, or 4. they fear what their pastor or Christian friends would think of them if they showed interest in anything Jewish.
Similarly, for many Jews, the thought of embracing the Gospel of the saving grace of Jesus, the cross of Jesus or anything "Christian" causes them to run the other way. There is often an apparent fear for Jews that they would have to 'convert' to a Gentile Christianity, thus losing their Jewish identity, their special calling or their delight in following the law of Moses and the promises made to Abraham. Their fear, it would seem, is based on one or more of the following: 1. they are not secure, to begin with, in the permanency of their Jewish identity and God's irrevocable calling and plan for them, 2. they have seen how many Christians or Christian groups have, indeed, insisted that Jews drop or renounce any remnants of their Jewish identity once they accept Jesus as their savior, 3. they have seen and heard many examples of Christian anti-Semitism and persecution such as in the Crusades and the Holocaust, or 4. they fear what their rabbi or friends or family would think if they showed interest in anything Christian.
Without the fears mentioned above, what would such an embrace of both Jews and Gentile Christians look like in those men and women who might be humbled by the true grace, love and truth that come from Messiah Jesus? Let's look at both Gentile and Jew separately.
The Gentile Christian is now moved and honored by the reality that he has been included in the New Covenant that was first brought by the very Jewish Jesus to the Jews. He is humbled by the fact that he has been grafted into the Natural, Jewish Olive Tree and is now included along with the remnant of God's Chosen people who have come to know Yeshua as their Messiah and Savior. Knowing that a carnal, legalistic adherence to any aspect of God's teaching is not what prompts God to love, accept and save him, he is secure in his salvation by grace through faith in Jesus, He understands how his desire for holiness and keeping God's commandments, reading the Torah, keeping the feasts of the Lord, blowing a shofar, learning Hebrew, wearing a prayer shawl or embracing anything else that is Biblically Jewish does not lead to his salvation but arises from it.
Further, the Gentile is in awe over the fact that because he belongs to Christ (Messiah), he is now considered to be the seed of Abraham. Although still a Gentile, he realizes that he is 1) included in the household of God (Jewish believers) and 2) no longer alienated from the commonwealth of Israel or the covenants of promise given to the Jews. As a result, with a new-found hunger to know more about his Hebrew roots, he feels a bond and a love for the land of Israel and for the Jewish people. Any hidden anti-Semitism lingering in his heart is uprooted. He progressively comes to understand the ways in which the Christian church has alienated and persecuted the Jewish people over the centuries, right up to the present, and is repentant with respect to these anti-Semitic acts. He feels neither superior nor inferior to Jewish believers. He is passionate about his spiritual ancestry, the Jewish people and Israel, and he is not worried about what other Christians may think of his closer bond with Jesus, the Jews and Israel.
On the other hand, with a humble spirit, the Jewish unbeliever is attracted to the light of the Messiah flowing through Christians who exemplify His love and grace. Their love for Israel and the Jewish people draw him closer. He accepts his Messiah, Yeshua, and now understands that the freedom of his eternal salvation comes totally through the grace of God and his faith in Yeshua's atoning death on the execution stake. The idea that he can earn redemption (through good works and keeping the commandments) is no longer enslaving him. He is now confident that he is not 'converting' to a new Gentilized/Westerized religion but that he is a complete Jew and can stand proudly in his Jewish identity. Knowing that accepting Yeshua as his Messiah will not weaken or eliminate this important identity, he notices, rather, a strengthening of it. As a stronger, more committed Jewish man, he becomes increasingly passionate in his love for the living God, the King of the Universe. He is excited about the New Testament Scriptures and how they fulfill the prophesies and types in his Bible, the Torah. His knowledge of Hebrew and the Torah fans the flames of revelation in this newly established Covenant of his God. He also realizes that he can continue to keep kosher, keep the Sabboth, wear a prayer shawl and strap on tiffilin etc. all without fear of being ostracized by non-Jewish believers in Yeshua.
He learns much from his Gentile brothers and sisters and feels at home in a Jewish Church or synagogue, where there is no division between Gentile and Jew, in that both are now converged into the "one new man." He has neither a sense of superiority nor inferiority to his Gentile brothers. With a renewed love for his Jewish brothers and sisters, he goes forth with a desire for them to come to understand the truth which he has now embraced. Along with Gentile believers, he yearns for the return of his Messiah and the upcoming one-thousand year reign with Him in Jerusalem.
May such a process of dismantling the fears within many Jews and Gentiles rapidly progress in these last days, as the Christian church humbly returns to her First Century Hebrew roots!
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