Post-Missionary Messianic Jewish Outreach #7 – Six Words Toward New Possibilities

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.

About Stuart Dauermann

The blog of Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann, teacher, mentor, radio talk show host, denizen of Los Angeles, and a visionary with a long career in Messianic Jewish activism. You can hear Rabbi Dauermann as he hosts Shalom Talk, a weekly radio show, and even listen online at Rabbi Dauermann spends time traveling nationally and internationally, and throughout the year is in Israel as a Scholar in Residence at the MJTI Jerusalem Center. He has plenty to say about Jewish-Christian relations, the need for shalom in the world, and the agenda of Messiah, the Son of David.
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4 Responses to Post-Missionary Messianic Jewish Outreach #7 – Six Words Toward New Possibilities

  1. Carl Kinbar says:

    Good post, Stuart. Can I expand a bit on the “Yes-and” approach?

    As you know, we aren’t interested only in discussing Judaism with Jews but in having meaningful relationships that share the joys and sorrows of life. In that context, discussions about Jewish life come naturally, as do talk about family, work, the pain of loss, etc. That kind of relationship is intended to last a lifetime, whether or not we come to agreement on the issues.

    I’m thinking that many Yeshua-believers, Messianic Jews in particular, need to loosen up and develop more full-orbed, healthy relationships with our fellow Jews. Otherwise, even the “Yes-And” option can have a hidden problem: initiating “relationships” in order to have “Yes-and” discussions!

    • I entirely agree, Carl. Those who have “relationships” only with a view toward evangelistic activity are like insurance salesman, or Amway, Tupperware, or Mary Kay salespeople (fill in the blanks from your own experience) who are vigilant for every opportunity to turn conversation around to their product. Experience demonstrates that such people may not thereby build relationship, but that rather, those who are their target audiences often look for opportunities to avoid them.

      Our people are our people whether or not they agree with us on matters of Yeshua faith. We need to get back to having relationship with our people on the basis of our God-given and very human commonalities and mutual respect, without defaulting to a tunnel vision view of why we are together. This should not be interpreted by zealots as some sort of defection on our part from the responsibilities of your Yeshua faith. Rather, it is a necessary corrective to cultivating relationships which are not relationships at all.

      We ought to share with our fellow Jews a common life, a full orbed human life. This is the context in which all else may or may not happen in the fullness of time, and this common life is a wonderfully worthwhile pursuit in and of itself.

  2. Carl Kinbar says:

    Thanks for the comment. I always read your posts in the light of my broader acquaintance with you life and work, so I’m not surprised that I “read” your thoughts correctly!

  3. M Hurley says:

    Love this stuff as usual.

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