I meet a lot of people. Some are Yeshua-believers unsure of how to appropriately share their Yeshua-faith with Jewish in-laws or friends. Often, these are ardent Yeshua-believers who sense that the ways they have been given to understand and share their faith don’t seem to be a good fit for the social realities they face. They are afraid of being insensitive to their Jewish “others” on the one hand, and untrue to their own faith commitments on the other. They find themselves in a bind, but at a loss as to how to think or act their way clear.
I have a six word suggestion, comprised of three pairs of words that outline three postures people may take in relating to Jewish relatives and friends. Understanding these three postures should help us all to see which options we wish to reject, and which we wish to explore more fully.
Option #1 is the NO-BUT option in which the Yeshua believer feels obliged to say NO to the validity of a Jewish person’s faith and experience, while saying in effect, “What you have is without value, BUT I have what you need.” If you will pause to think for a while, you will discover that this is a position many people take.
I remember years ago meeting a couple, Jewish wife, Gentile man, both Yeshua believers. The Jewish wife’s parents had become Orthodox, partially in reaction to their daughter’s having come to Yeshua faith. The son in law, a Christian, felt obliged to share his faith with his in-laws, but also believed he needed to discount as fruitless all they knew and did compared to what he wanted to share with them about Yeshua. You can guess how successful he was in his evangelistic labors.
Sometimes the people who come to me for help in sharing their faith with the Jewish “others” sense that their conservative Christian contexts have only equipped them for a NO-BUT approach. This is why they are looking for other viable options.
Option #2 is the YES-BUT option in which the Yeshua believer only listens to the Jewish other’s accounting of their own faith and experience as a prelude to sharing Yeshua faith with them. This is like the salesman who finds a common area of interest with his contact, and encourages the contact to speak about about that interest, but only as a pretext for the sales pitch the salesman has in mind.
Or perhaps you, like me, have experience with people who are always thinking of what they want to say to you while you are talking with them, so that you never get a real hearing, nor the respect that hearing entails.
People with a YES-BUT mentality are not good listeners, and relationship with the Jewish “other” only goes so far, if it can be called relationship at all.
Option #3 is the YES-AND option whereby the Yeshua believer genuinely respects, hears, and values what his Jewish significant other reports about the value of his/her Jewish life, faith and experience. This involves saying a YES to all of that, AND going on to report how, in and through Yeshua, God is at work to deepen Jewish life experientially, while bringing the Jewish people and their tradition to their foreordained consummation.
Those who are committed to seeing Judaism as a fundamentally false religion will not be able to take this approach, nor will they get very far with their Jewish in-laws or friends! While some would insist that Judaism is an incomplete relation, such people forget that even the best of Christians sees “through a glass darkly.” The Christian view is also one in which “we know in part, and we prophecy in part.” What this means is that the Christian must avoid the temptation of coming across as if he or she has all the answers. Even St. Paul would not say that!
This YES-AND approach is the one I favor and which I teach and develop. If it is not the approach you can live with, then I wonder how far you are getting with your NO-BUT or YES-BUT options. In my experience, these other approaches are popular with the propagators, but have limited if any value in winning the interest and respect of the those significant Jewish others whom they seek to reach out to.