One late winter a woman who was active in her charismatic congregation started discovering the Jewish roots of her faith. She was so very excited to learn of the 7 Jewish festivals (6 feasts, 1 fast) that God gave Israel as it was all new to her and she was like a child in a candy store. When Resurrection Day drew near in the spring, she was excited to attend her first Passover Seder and discover all the hidden clues about Messiah therein, and started attending a study group focused on Jewish roots of faith.
During that spring and early summer she began going to a local Messianic congregation, attending the Friday night Shabbat and the Saturday gathering for worship. Her attendance at church on Sundays became irregular, and she became convinced that she was right in all things Jewish and the rest of her friends had lesser knowledge. She wasn’t outwardly arrogant, just that she felt she had something they were missing, and would later admit she saw them as less spiritual.
A turning point
She did so however in a very uncertain way, as all this revelation of the Jewishness of the Lord caused her to examine everything she had believed to that point in her life of faith, and she was afraid to ‘make a mistake’ in her faith. She never sat down with a friend to ask ‘Is what I’ve been taught correct in light of the New Testament?’, but when she had a question like that she would go back to her teacher (Rabbi) at the Messianic Congregation for clarification. They would study (for instance) Galatians but teach differently about it than what she’d been taught before. She was confused, and though she didn’t understand everything they were saying, the rest was so ‘right’ she went along with it.
Soon, her friends found they could not have a relationship with her aside from her new-found Jewish faith. Gone were the stress-free and relaxed visits over coffee or tea to talk of life and the kids and what the Lord was doing in each other’s lives that day and that week. Conversations were one way, tense, dominated by this or that bit of information she had learned at the Messianic Bible classes or service. She too felt disconnected from her friends as she connected with new friends at the Congregation.
She loved the ceremony at the Messianic church with the processional bringing in the scrolls of the Word, the songs with a Jewish beat and lyrics, and the certainty within herself that the more she learned of the Jewish roots of the faith the closer to God she would be, and the more mature in her faith.
Justifying her faith or converting her friends?
She always seemed to be trying to either justifying her new-found faith to them, or convert them to her way of thinking. They were just trying to talk with their friend over coffee what the Lord was doing in their lives, but she seemed to have no real relationship with the Lord Himself or Father any longer, it was more a relationship with the Old Testament and the traditions, rather than the Lord Jesus.
Her friends were happy she was learning so much, but as time passed observations were made among her friends how much they had grown in character and maturity in the Lord over the previous year, while their Messianic friend seemed stagnant in her faith with an underlying sense of discontentment, even fear that if she didn’t do thus and so she was in sin or disappointing the Lord. She lost the intimacy she once had with her friends from the church she had attended and been active in for years. She found she no longer had close friends at all.
This is the dilemma
I could go on with story after story of situations similar to the above, and though the players may change and the details may differ, the basics are all there – how Jewish should a non-Jewish (Gentile) believer be?
I’ve seen equally yoked marriages become unequally yoked as one spouse will go whole heartedly into Messianic faith while the other continues in their Gentile charismatic or other church. I’ve seen people become spiritual islands to themselves as they either leave churches or are asked to leave because of strains in their relationships with pastors and the people in their church similar to what I’ve described above. I’ve seen pastors grudgingly give in to strong-willed church members who eagerly want to share the Jewishness of their faith in church services that Pastor (in their thinking) doesn’t know about, and so much more.
A little history
Throughout Israel’s history Gentiles (non-Jewish people) have converted to Judaism and been welcomed into covenant with God. Those converts became fully Jewish. There are notable examples throughout the Old Testament, but I’ll only mention 2 here for the sake of space.
The first is the Moabite woman Rahab, the harlot of Jericho, who protected the spies of Israel in her house on the wall of Jericho and let out a red cord (red-redemption) so she and her family would not be killed when the rest of the wall fell around her house. Joshua 6:25 tells us Joshua saved her, her father’s household, and all she had, and that she settled in Israel. That’s all we are told in the book of Joshua of what became of her in the Old Testament.
BUT we are told in Matthew 1:5 when Matthew gives us the genealogy of Joseph (Mary’s genealogy is recorded in Luke’s gospel) that Rahab married a Jewish man named Salmon (sal-mon), and that they had a son named Boaz. (Also see Ruth 4:21-22)
Boaz would grow up to be quite successful, and one day noticed a Moabite woman new to the area named Ruth, who had like his own mother converted to Judaism. So he had no hesitation falling in love with Ruth, being from the same country as his mom and had become a believer in the God of Israel like his mom. They married and had a son named Obed, who had Jesse, who had David. Therefore David’s great-grandparents were Boaz and Ruth. David’s great-great grandparents were Salmon and Rahab. (Now you know why the book of Ruth is in the Bible).
Even up to Pentecost in Acts 2 some witnessing the event were identified as ‘proseltyes’ – Gentile converts to Judaism. (2:10) They became Jewish upon believing in the God of Israel, though born Gentile. That was Old Testament times, pre-Pentecost. Should we be the same way in our day? We will pick it up there next week, until then, blessings,