Years ago, I became interested in a particular group of people who called themselves Messianic Jews. For a while my interest was just sort of a fascination, but in the last couple of years I've become more and more interested in learning about what they believe and how they live and why. I'm still a baby in this process, but there is no doubt in my mind that it matters; and I am more and more convinced that in separating ourselves from Jewish believers in Christ, we "Christians" are doing ourselves a huge disservice.
I didn't want to believe that we were doing this for a long time, even as recently as yesterday. I wanted to believe that the church had a proper and healthy respect for Israel. But the signs are all in front of me that we don't. I once spoke about my respect for Israel and the Jews to an acquaintance who was part of a ministry team. She told me to "be careful!" I never figured out what she meant. Perhaps she meant that I should be careful that I didn't have so much respect for Israel that I ignored the fact that the Gospel is also for the Gentile. But I don't see this kind of caution. I see us ignoring, or hating, or acting like we are better because we think we know so much about Jesus. To tell the truth, I'm actually feeling an anger about it. How can we call Jesus the hope of Israel and then speak hatefully about people who are Jewish? It was Jewish believers who brought that hope to us! How did we come to be in the position of trying to convert them? Is it any wonder they don't have an interest in Jesus? Now on top of whatever cultural disdain they have for him, many are also so embittered because of the way "Christians" have treated Jews that they might not be able to accept the truth about Jesus even if their hearts were convinced!
Jesus was Jewish. He followed Jewish laws and customs, and so did his followers. He didn't come here to do away with the law. He came to fulfill it. Do we even know what that means? I don't think so. We speak the words, but how can we understand? We don't even know the Jewish laws. We have absolutely no frame of reference except some vague knowledge that Jews offered sacrifices. What a deeper relationship we would have with God if we really understood and followed Christ! "A new command I give you." What was that new command? It wasn't meant to replace the old. It was meant to give meaning and life to the old, to enable us to follow the law out of love rather than obligation! Gentiles aren't required to conform to Jewish customs in order to be saved (because works don't earn us salvation!) But there is no prohibition against Gentiles participating by choice. Nobody is supposed to have a corner on salvation. There is one way to life and that is through Jesus! What are we Gentile believers doing trying to possess the key to salvation and knocking the source of the blessing? We're supposed to be blessing Israel, not cursing it! And what is a curse but a bad attitude spoken in order to bring pain upon a person! If we call Jesus the hope of Israel, then let us look upon Israel with compassion and love!