The Way to Have a Message

The discussion this week is about MJ having an intelligent message for promoting Yeshua-faith. It is about the cause of representing hope and faith in the Jewish community and showing that there is a better way to live and know God and love people. And I do believe that in every way, in every form of Jewish expression, Yeshua is needed. There isn’t any aspect of Judaism that isn’t taken to greater heights by the realization of who Yeshua is and knowing his kingdom teaching.

But there is a very good reason why MJ doesn’t do well at representing Yeshua to the Jewish community (a reason I will share after the jump).

Meanwhile, we’ve had lots of great discussion. I want to point out in particular a comment by Rabbi Joshua Brumbach (which I will respond to):

I think we are first and foremost to be a representative presence of Yeshua within the Jewish community. We are a community of faith and our promoting Yeshua-faith to the wider Jewish community should come as a natural outgrowth of that. It is secondary (yet still imperative) to our existence as a holy remnant within, and as a part of, greater Israel.

I also want to point out a comment by Bob Williams:

I think many of us in MJ circles would like to see much more of a “Relationship Evangelism” aka “Lifestyle Evangelism” but too many of our people are not in relationships of any sort with Jewish non-Yeshua-believers. Its hard to influence those you never interact with in any meaningful way. (Perhaps an even bigger problem here is that for “Relationship Evangelism” to work, there must be evidence of transformation in the lives of our people. Sometimes when I look around I wonder what’s supposed to be so attractive here.)

Great thoughts. Now let’s talk about how to have a message.

The reason MJ doesn’t do well at representing Yeshua is simple. It was in yesterday’s gospel reading (John 7:14-36):

. . . if any man is willing to do his will, he shall know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
-John 7:17

We don’t represent Yeshua well because we don’t emphasize living the kingdom as Yeshua taught it.

SUBSTITUTE #1: Weekly meetings and lively musical worship. This is all good, but it’s not the main point.
SUBSTITUTE #2: Torah study / Bible reading / online study for inspiration and social interaction / reading books. This is input. Where is the output?
SUBSTITUTE #3: Feeling like we are right and others are wrong, as if being “right” is what the kingdom is about.

When will our Jewish people know the words of Yeshua are true?

You know the answer if you been engaging in “Substitute #2.” It will happen when we get caught doing the will of the Father.

KINGDOM LIVING #1: Have weekly meetings where people are empowered to form community, to live on a higher plane of love and deeds of kindness, and to make a difference so that our goal is to make this world more like the world to come.
KINGDOM LIVING #2: Read the Torah, the gospels and Acts (in particular, but the whole Bible as well) in order to do what it says and the doing is more important than the learning.
KINGDOM LIVING #3: Be busy doing right and don’t worry about being right.

When we are more know for what we do than what we believe, we will have a message.

So, in part, then, I agree with Rabbi Joshua’s statement cited above. And I agree with Bob Williams’ statement. We need to get busy being the holy remnant. We need to ask, as Bob Williams is asking, “I wonder what’s supposed to be so attractive here.”

Just so no one thinks I am still only being theoretical, let me mention a huge list of things that doing the kingdom includes. The point of this list is not to limit what doing the kingdom means, but to give some practical guidelines and pointers. Your applications of Yeshua’s kingdom teachings will no doubt grow over the years as you study Torah and gospel:
Live in forgiving community — work for Tikkun Olam — feed hungry people and clothe naked people — be a person in the workplace who helps people with problems — use possessions to help people — know and be able to explain the world to come — care for children — be strong in marital and family love — give tzedaka (alms) — pray with a vision to work that the prayers would come true — develop Middot (the measures of Torah character) — heal relationships — visit lonely or needy people — share hospitality deliberately and often — help people harmed by injustice — confess wrongs — teach children — volunteer — give up control — serve in every situation and do not look to be served — pay off debts so you’ll have more to give — live simply and joyfully — support others in community with cooperation and participation — be of high integrity in your work and social interactions — and any other applications which come out of your regular reading and prayer.

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12 Responses to The Way to Have a Message

  1. “Live in forgiving community…”

    Derek… everything you listed is already practiced by those devout non-MJ Jews who go above the letter of the Torah (imperfectly, of course, but then again, what you listed here is an ideal few if any will ever attain), and of course all this is already part of the traditional Jewish teaching. Ironically, historically speaking and at least after the first century, the Jewish community has a much better record in all of the above than a Christian community (you can say that Jews, overall, have been better ‘Christians” without actually being them – including suffering for one’s faith even unto death and persevering in the face of great adversity). Is there more to the message of Yeshua that would make these Jews desire to become Yeshua-disciples?

    • Lrl79 says:

      Christianity has been responsible for amazing things in this world to be sure. When you consider things like the abolition of slavery, hospitals, higher education, orphanages, the willingness of so many good and loving souls to go and help, educate, and tell hurting people (who are a different color and ethnicity than themselves) all over the globe about the Messiah, and the formation of America, the likes of which is unprecedented in history, one can hardly ignore it’s achievements.

      So, my question is, since you said that the Jewish community has a far better track record than Christianity does, can you explain that? I’m not aware of non Yeshua believing Jewish people going out to the ends of the earth to bring comfort, aid, education and compassion to hurting, non Jewish people. I realize I have not been in any community where this has been brought to light, so please don’t take this as a sarcastic comment, it isn’t.

      • It’s a huge topic. Let’s just say that Jews have been at the forefront of abolishing slavery in America, abolishing apartheid in South Africa, proving for the impoverished, at establishing hospitals and institutions of higher learning way out of proportion to their number.

        As far as reaching out to non-Jews and giving to non-Jewish causes, here’s something about Jewish charitable organizations:

        “In his 2003 study, Mega Gifts in American Philanthropy, Tobin studied 865 philanthropic gifts of $10 million or more made between 1995 and 2000. Of those, the 188 made by Jews totaled $5.3 billion and of that amount, only 6 percent went to Jewish organizations or institutions. Most of the money went to education (49 percent), arts/culture and humanities (21 percent) and health (6 percent).”

        “But perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the list is that at least nineteen of the fifty philanthropists are Jewish. As such, Jews represent 38 percent of America’s 50 most generous philanthropists in a country where they are only 2.2 percent of the population. This is nineteen times more than their numbers would suggest.

        http://www.jewishachievement.com/domains/phil.html

        And this is only in MODERN times.

        • Lrl79 says:

          Interesting. The things you mentioned are mostly in donating funds, which is not to be marginalized, but when I think of Christianity, at least the type that moves and motivates me, I think of more “hands on” examples. The act of looking a hurting soul in the eye and extending, and or risking, yourself, or possessions, to them. Loving them, caring for them, sacrificing for them.

          You know, getting dirty.

          And I am just not aware of non believing Jewish people doing that. (for non Jews I mean) but the stories are endless of Missionaries, sacrificing for others who are nothing like them.

          People like Corrie Ten Boom (and her family) move me, and William Wilberforce, Mother Teresa, among others.

          So would you say the Christian “achievements” in bringing about a more careing world and ending slavery, lending a hand, going to foreign countries to give relief and build homes etc. are just publicized more?

      • Also, look up info Jews and the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.

      • Donna Levin says:

        Shalom. Well, I can think of two recent example of Jews helping non-Jews. Jewish charitable organizations and units of the IDF have gone to Haiti to help after the earthquake. Also, Israel has been very helpful to the people and government of Japan after the nuclear meltdown they just had. I do agree that many Christian groups have been on the ground helping those in need for a very long time (i.e. Franklin Graham’s group in recent years), so we should try to be cautious when making such general statements.

        • Lrl79 says:

          Great examples, thank you for mentioning.

          Also, I wasn’t making a general statement, I was stating what my understanding is and asking for examples of things I am not aware of. Different thing altogether.

  2. JD says:

    More than you learn, do. -Pirke Avot 6:5
    It is simply true.
    As for Jews being better ‘Christians’ it is true they have done very good, and especially since the rebirth of Israel they have done more than countries bigger and richer than them. Yet Christians have also been known for this, or genuine christians. Many of the now secular NGOs were originally christians charities. And we must not forget the martyrs either, during the Inquisition both Jews and true Chrisitans were burned at the stake together. Neither comunity is perfect, yet it is also true that ‘Christianity’ has so much more to blame, for the crusades, the inquisitions, the ‘christianisation’ of the America’s all that violence was done in the name of Christ.
    So as derek says, we gotta focus on doing!
    In an edition of the periodical “The Messianic Jew” http://vineofdavid.org/remnant_repository/index.html
    the editors enumerate their goals as a MJ comunity, their first one was this: ‘Not to leave a stone unturned until the stain on the name of our Lord is wiped away and he stands revealed to the Jewish nation as the true Jewish Messiah.’

  3. louise says:

    Derek- This IS an interesting discussion!

    ‘Messianic Judaism is actually not a new movement, but a restored movement:-

    -if one reads ACTS carefully, Scripturally, that statement is true. Romans 11 adds to the fact that Israel was to be comprised of grafted in Gentiles. Unity was what Yeshua said He desired in His last words to the disciples, prior to Gethsemane, that that was His desire. One wonders if we believers in both churches and in Messianic synagogues really want that above else, wonder sometimes if we don’t flatter us selves by wanting to rub wool with those more like us. Jesus said that we are to seek His Kingdom first, that prob . means unity or at least WANTING to reconcile and not always have our differences.

    On a personal note, i am the daughtger of a mixed marriage, i.e. Jewish mother whose family left judaism early on, and gentile father who left the Catholic church. they agreed to never discuss religion. it worked, sort of….except that somehow or other Jesus indeed loved me before I loved Him, and led me to repentance and being born again; in a church. that is where God has seemed to place me but now, having learned so much more about Jesus and the whole Word of GOD, i have to be a presence for Romans 11 Gospel in the church where he put me and where i am kind of ‘forced’ to interact frequently and sincerely with sheep quite unlike me at times. The interesting thing is that by reading your books and perspective Derek, as well as some others who have helped me a lot (Dan Gruber, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, among others) God uses me to occupy until He comes.

    Jesus also told us to teach all men everything He taught from the Scriptures. It is FROM the Scriptures that He explains Himself, 40 day seminar He gave His disciples before He ascended and promised to return again. Those who were paying attention generation after generation to prophecy and to longing for Messiah the first time He came began to understand that the Lamb of God had to be sacrificed for salvation, both personal and universal/cosmic. The rest of the prophecy has to do with His return for judgment of sin, of tribulation, of some of the important realities of Revelation among ther prophecies in the prophets, etc. etc. Is the church really preaching much the t enfohrHEREtandThe church got pretty good at focusing oHE Ce re

    • louise says:

      not sure what happened…

      continuation:

      Is the church focused so much on personal salvation that it is not correctly understanding the need for His Second Appearing? Are believers sometimes so self-oriented we fail to see beyond our ‘ticket to heaven?’ In Judaism I think it can be the same thing–do the good deeds, guarantee one’s place in the House of the Lord, but not really long for Messiah to reign, to assume His place on the earth as prophesied. From discussions i have had with non MJ Jewish people, they are not longing a whole lot for Messiah any more than a lot of Christians are.

      All of us, in both MJ congregations and churches should probably be less happy with our dis-unity than we are. Our focus should be the King, and His Name is the KING OF KINGS, Lord of Lords, and we need to be about the Father’s business in every situation we are placed, in congreations and in the marketplace. That i think is the Gospel. He is coming again and this time not as a baby in a manger but with a sword. Either we will have a part in this truth being spread or we can hide in the sand and comfort zones, and doing good deeds matters but without the Gospel message of THE KING’S coming they are not enough. Plenty of non-religious people do good deeds.

      John the Baptist preached repentance the first time, to announce Jesus’ first coming. He was not wimpy, he got beheaded. MJ congregations and churches need to discuss these things ….they mattered to Jesus. The almost last words in the Bible are focused on ‘Even so COME Lord Jesus’.

  4. Lrl79 says:

    Louise says: “kind of ‘forced’ to interact frequently and sincerely with sheep quite unlike me at times.”

    Wow! You are such a blessing! Hangnin there and thank you for sharing that!

  5. Bob Williams says:

    What an honor to be quoted alongside Rabbi Joshua! I really think his comments are central to this whole issue of MJ as “message focused.” Yes we have a message to Jewish people but, that is a secondary matter. “(F)irst and foremost” we are to be “a representative presence of Yeshua within the Jewish community.” We are “a holy remnant within, and … a part of, greater Israel.”

    As I replied to Rabbi Joshua’ post: “The thing of greatest importance is who we are as a MJ community. Only after that is what we do from that identity, ie, witness, proclaim, etc.” Of course Derek rightly puts the focus back on out actions. The only way to truly BE that “holy remnant” is to “get caught doing the will of the Father.” (I’m reminded of a joke about Frank Sinatra as a great philosopher… “Do. Be. Do. Be. Do.”)

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