Healing the Rift

Not long ago I attended a large international Christian conference in Jerusalem. I had a lot in common with the other attendees; most of us were Jewish, and all of us were believers in Yeshua. I should have blended in perfectly.

But instead, I stood out. Even though I was in a room with hundreds of other Jewish men, I was the only person wearing a kippah.

Before long, I was spotted by one of the other conference-goers. He approached me to feel out whether or not I was there as an attendee, or just there to stir the pot. I think he must have assumed I was there on behalf of a local anti-missionary organization. When I reassured him I was attending in good faith, he pressed a little further, asking which Messianic fellowship I attend here in Jerusalem. He was visibly shocked when I confessed that I regularly attend an Orthodox synagogue.

With the full force of his commanding British accent, he rebuked me by quoting 2 Corinthians 6:14:

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?

Living in Jerusalem as a disciple of Yeshua and a practicing Jew, I constantly feel the tension between the Messianic and Orthodox Jewish worlds. Yet that tension was exceptionally sharp as I had to defend my Jewish practice to a fellow believer in Yeshua. I was reminded yet again that most Christians consider traditional Jewish practice to be backsliding and legalism. Worse, most Christians believe that the Jewish people are cursed, that they are children of darkness, and that they will continue to be totally estranged from God until they accept Yeshua as their Messiah.

At First Fruits of Zion, we have made it our mission to combat these unbiblical and anti-Jewish ideas. We envision a world in which Christians cultivate a vibrant relationship with the Jewish people, their co-heirs of the faith of Abraham. We strive to help Christians recognize that Yeshua, the Twelve, Paul, and the rest of the first-generation disciples were all practicing Jews who worshiped at the Temple and in synagogues. We look forward to a time in which Messianic Jews and Messianic Gentiles will not be unfairly judged because of their attachment to the very faith of Messiah, to Judaism and its way of life.

One of our newest books, Israel Matters, is specifically written to challenge Christians to reconsider their stance toward the Jewish people. This book makes the case that God’s covenants with and promises to the Jewish people are everlasting; they cannot be revoked, as God has staked his reputation on their fulfillment. The Jewish people will forever be God’s people—period. Every step toward repairing the church’s relationship with the Jewish people is a step that uplifts the name and reputation of Yeshua our Messiah, the King of Israel.

This article originally appeared on First Fruits of Zion, August 22, 2016, and reposted with permission.