"If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." Truer words were never spoken.
So what do you stand for?
Somehow my pathway with God has led me to stand for three things that most people say can't or even shouldn't go together. I disagree. And since life is too short to postpone telling others what one stands for, here I go.
- I stand for the rightness of Jews believing in and commiting themselves to the one whom I term, "the more Jewish Jesus." This is in contrast the cliché "Jewish Jesus" who grew up in a kosher home, whose mother called him Yeshua, and who somehow distanced himself from Judaism to start something better. This is also in contrast to "the opposition Jesus" bequeathed to ussince the second century, the Jesus of grace instead of law, the New Testament instead of the Old Testament, "us" (the church as "the new Israel") instead of "them" (the Jews, "the old, and now superseded Israel"), the Jesus of a new tradition instead of the old one. Instead the more Jewish Jesus affirms Jewish life, Jewish custom, Jewish community continuity, and Jewish community structures. For those Jews who believe Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah my question is this: Did the Jewish Messiah come into the world so that Jews would stop living as Jews? The answer should be obvious. At least it is to me. My second point explains a bit more.
- I stand for the rightness and indeed the imperative of Jews returning to and living within Jewish covenantal life, the patterns of living given by God in the Torah, sustained by the prophets, discussed and explained by the tradition, lived by our ancestors, lived out in community, even amidst disagreement. Of course, this is the corollary of what I said earlier about the more Jewish Jesus. If he didn't come into the world that Jews might stop living as Jews, then we Jews should return to or remain in that way of life. Why? Because it brings honor to God. “And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do theSee, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? (Deuteronomy 4:5-8 ESV)" The prophets tell us that the end of days, God will bring the Jewish people back to obeying Torah, in the power of his Spirit. For example, Ezekiel says, "And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules" (Ezek 36:27). Many Jews who already believe in Yeshua like to think of being filled with the Spirit. But I intend to remind them of what is said in this very context: that the Spirit is given so as to cause us to walk in his statutes and be careful to obey his rules. Torah and Spirit should not, never, under no terms, be separated. None of this means that Jewish believers in Yeshua should think of themselves as being separate from Gentiles who believe, but we are distinct. Distinct does not mean separate. And Gentiles should never think that they must practice Judaism to manifest their unity with us. Unity is not uniformity, and our unity is in Messiah.
- I stand for the priority of Jews and their families going deeper into their relationships with God. If I understand the Bible correctly, it is clear that when Yeshua ascended from this earth he sent forth the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit/Divine Presence) to inhabit, transform, and empower his people. It is God's will, and part of Yeshua's work that, in addition to going ever-deeper into Jewish life, we should go ever-deeper into an experiential relationship with God catalyzed by the extraordinary influence of the Spirit whom Yeshua sent.
I call these three essentials "the three-stranded cord," three core elements not meant to be separated but which synergistically strengthen each other. While there are some who would deny that all three strands belong together, I disagree. And this is what I stand for.
Helping Jews and Intermarrieds in Particular With The Three Stranded Cord
At Interfaithfulness we help Jewish and intermarried homes integrate these things by sending out a weekly discussion sheet, Shulchan Shelanu "Our Table") meant to be used around the shabbat table. If yours is a Jewish or Intermarried household, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org and title your communication "Table" and we will put you on the list to receive Shulchan Shelanu every week by email.
But there's more.
We are currently considering launching exciting discussion gatherings in the Los Angeles area for people interested in how to productively navigate the boundary and space between the Christian and Jewish worlds. There are plenty of hot and important issues that arise in such a discussion. But if everyone listens as they like to listened to and speaks as they like to be spoken to it should be more than fun. These meetings are for the intelligently interested rather than the religiously fixated. This is not where you come to preach your message, but where you come to hear what others think because it just might help you think better yourself.And in the process you also get to work out and speak forth your own views, without seeking to trump someone else.
These meetings are Shalom Talks: Conversations for Change, related to my former radio show. And by the way: these will not be lectures. There will be a brief teaching, but this is to lay the groundwork for your own discovery and interaction. The floor will be opened for guided discussion, and that is the main point.
If you think you learn as much or more by discussing as you do by just listening, and if you want a context to work things out, then this is for you.
Plans are to hold these in neutral spaces like restaurant or coffee shop meeting rooms, and in synagogues or churches which welcome this kind of interaction (not enough do!) Attendance will be limited because having too many people makes full participation by all impossible.
If you live in the greater Los Angeles Area and you want to know more, write me at email@example.com and title your communication SHALOM TALKS. This will help us decide in what areas to begin these adventures, and whether there is enough interest for us to start now, or to wait until things ripen a bit more. Without sufficient interest, the project won't be attempted right now. So let us know if you are interested and what area you live. And again, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org
So let's learn. Let's listen. Let's talk. Then let's change the world.
Then let's change the world.