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Every Tuesday I teach Bible to a Communist.

Actually, she is a British Jewish woman who confessed to me upon joining our group that she was both a communist and atheist. But she was not a militant communist nor atheist. She felt that Communism was more attentive to social justice issues that other political systems. Although she never joined the Party, her experience with Communists in England many years ago was that they were caring people who would give you the shirt off their backs.

 

This lady came to us in a wheelchair with a chronically bad back, and excruciating back pain.  She said she was suicidal from the pain. We prayed for her, and she went for a minor intervention. Between the prayer and the minor intervention for her back, she has been pain free for about seven months—entirely pain free.  That healing, plus the effects of our discussion and the teaching have had an effect on her. She is no longer an atheist, and she grows right before my eyes.

 

Her reminiscences about the old line Communists she knew in England got me to thinking because it was clear that some of these people were more generous and responsive to social needs than many Yeshua believers I know. What can we learn from this?

 

Such thinking brings me back to Douglas Hyde (April 11, 1911-Sept. 19.1996), for twenty years an ardent British Communist, and finally the editor of the Daily Worker in the U.K. Although his life took him from Methodism, to Communism, to Catholicism, there was one theme of his life: commitment to the plight of his suffering fellow man. His disillusionment with first Communism (due to the savagery of Stalin), and then Catholicism (which he viewed to talk a far better game than it played in the realm of human suffering), was due to his idealism being disappointed.

 

Unknown-1In 1966, he wrote a wonderful book, Dedication and Leadership, in which he examines what Communism has to teach Christians about both.  I wish all leaders in the Messianic Jewish Movement would heed his prophetic words. Here are just some of them, extracted from his book.

 

If you ask me what is the distinguishing mark of the Communist, what it is that Communists most outstandingly have in common, . . . I would say that beyond any shadow of doubt it is their idealism, their zeal, dedication, devotion to their cause and willingness to sacrifice. 

 

The Communists’ appeal to idealism (one of the keys to sacrifice) is direct and audacious. They say that if you make mean (British English for “meager”) little demands upon people, you will get a mean little response which is all you deserve, but, if you make big demands on them, you will get an heroic response.  They prove in practice that this is so, over and over again.  They work on the assumption that if you call for big sacrifices people will respond to this and, moreover, the relatively smaller sacrifices will come quite naturally. 

 

Like attracts like.  Those who are attracted by the dedication they see within the movement will themselves be possessed of a latent idealism, a capacity for dedication.  This dedication perpetuates itself.  It sets the tone and pace for the movement as a whole. This being so, the movement can make big demands upon its followers, knowing that the response will come. If the majority of members of an organization are half-hearted and largely inactive, it is not surprising if others who join it soon conform to the general pattern.  If the organization makes relatively few demands upon its members and if they quite obviously feel under no obligation to give a very great deal to it, then those who join may be forgiven for supposing that this is the norm and that this is what membership entails.

 

If, on the other hand, the majority of members, from the leaders down, are characterized by their single-minded devotion to the cause, if it is quite clear that the majority are giving until it hurts, putting their time, money, thought and if necessary life itself at its disposal, then those who consider joining will assume that this is what will be expected of them.  If they nonetheless make the decision to join, they will come already conditioned to sacrifice until it hurts.

 

The paradox . . . is that the Communists show a faith in their people, which Christians, who are supposed to be the great defenders of the human person, are too often not prepared to show.  They ask for a lot and they get the big response they expect.

 

I am convinced that the Messianic Jewish Movement will get the “followers” we deserve.  And if our modus operandi is to “go easy on ourselves,” we cannot but acquire disciples who expect the same concessions. The followers we will get are ourselves writ large.  That is something to think about.

 

Let’s remember that our Messiah said “any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

 

I wonder if we got the memo.

 

 

 

 

Stuart Dauermann, PhD

 

Director of Interfaithfulness: touching tomorrow.

 

 

 

Exploring the synergy between Judaism and Christianity, partnership between Christians and Jews, and the relationship between God’s tomorrow and our today. 

Every Tuesday I teach Bible to a Communist. Actually, she is a British Jewish woman who confessed to me upon joining our group that she was both a communist and and atheist. But she was not a militant communist nor atheist. She felt that Communism was more attentive to social justice issues that other political systems. Although she never joined the Party, her experience with Communists in England many years ago was that they were caring people who would give you the shirt off their backs.

 

This lady is part of a small group I teach every Tuesday, great people. She came to us in a wheelchair with a chronically bad back, and in fact excruciating back pain.  She said she was suicidal from the pain. We prayed for her, and she went for a minor intevention, Between the prayer and the minor intervention for her back, she has been pain free for about seven months–entirely pain free.  That healing, plus the effects of our discussion and the teaching have had an effect on her. She is no longer an atheist, and she grows right before my eyes.

Her reminscences about the old line Communists she knew in England got me to thinking because it was claar that some of these people were more generous and responsive to social needs than many Yeshua believers I know. What can we learn from this>

 Such thinking brings me back to Douglas Hyde (April 11, 1911-Sept. 19.1996), for twenty years an ardent British Communist, and finally the editor of the Daily Worker in the U.K. Although his life took him from Methodism, to Communisim, to Catholicism, there was one theme of his life: commitment to the plight of his suffering fellow man. His disillusionment with first Communism (due to the savagery of Stalin), and then Catholicism (which he viewed to talk a far better game than it played in the realm of human  suffering), was due to his idealism being disappointed. 

Unknown-1In 1966, he wrote a wonderful book, Dedication and Leadership, in which he examines what Communism has to teach Christians about both.  I wish all leaders in the Messianic Jewish movement would heed his prophetic words. Here are just some of them, extracted from his book.

 If you ask me what is the distinguishing mark of the Communist, what it is that Communists most outstandingly have in common, . . . I would say that beyond any shadow of doubt it is their idealism, their zeal, dedication, devotion to their cause and willingness to sacrifice. 

The Communists’ appeal to idealism (one of the keys to sacrifice) is direct and audacious. They say that if you make mean (British English for “meager”] little demands upon people, you will get a mean little response which is all you deserve, but, if you make big demands on them, you will get an heroic response.  They prove in practice that this is so, over and over again.  They work on the assumption that if you call for big sacrifices people will respond to this and, moreover, the relatively smaller sacrifices will come quite naturally. 

Like attracts like.  Those who are attracted by the dedication they see within the movement will themselves be possessed of a latent idealism, a capacity for dedication.  This dedication perpetuates itself.  It sets the tone and pace for the movement as a whole. This being so, the movement can make big demands upon its followers, knowing that the response will come. If the majority of members of an organization are half-hearted and largely inactive, it is not surprising of others who join it soon conform to the general pattern.  If the organization makes relatively few demands upon its members and if they quite obviously feel under no obligation to give a very great deal to it, then those who join may be forgiven for supposing that this is the norm and that this is what membership entails.

If, on the other hand, the majority of members, from the leaders down, are characterized by their single-minded devotion to the cause, if it is quite clear that the majority are giving until it hurts, putting their time, money, thought and if necessary life itself at its disposal, then those who consider joining will assume that this is what will be expected of them.  If they nonetheless make the decision to join, they will come already conditioned to sacrifice until it hurts.

The paradox . . . is that the Communists show a faith in their people, which Christians, who are supposed to be the great defenders of the human person, are too often not prepared to show.  They ask for a lot and they get the big response they expect.

I am convinced that the Messianic Jewish movement will get the “followers” we deserve.  We will get ourselves writ large.  But Messiah sets a high standard for all of us when he says “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

I wonder if we got the memo.