Gentile Inclusion – thinking out loud

Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice.  Each will be like a hiding place from the wind, a shelter from the storm, like streams of water in a dry place, like the shade of a great rock in a weary land.

~ Isaiah 32:1-2  ESV

If our tradition tells us that Yeshua of Nazareth is the promised Messiah and He will return to complete His Messianic mission, and if our tradition tells us that He will reign as King from Jerusalem and all the earth will worship G-d at the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, if in the Messianic Age the Torah will go out from Jerusalem to all nations, and if Messiah will appoint leaders (some say the resurrected Apostles will fill this role, others say men selected the age when Messiah comes – who knows) ….

Then this verse is super awesome because it says those who are chosen to lead – the princes – are the kind of people that bring such rest, such peace, such assurance, such blessing.  No wonder the nations will flock to Messiah, if His princes are this way!  Isn’t this the way Yeshua was as He walked the earth so long ago?  Isn’t this how we’ve encountered Him along our journey?  Oh that we should be more like Him!

Hhmm – with the MG-MJ thing and my recent shared ruminations, I think you may see where I’m going.

We need to be those people now, prepare for the coming Messiah.  Though we MGs may not be selected as princes, our MJ brothers certainly may and doesn’t a wife rejoice when her husband is known in the city gates and respected among his peers?  Doesn’t the wife benefit from her husband’s honorable success?  But as many of us know, a wise and honorable husband has a wise and honorable wife standing beside him.

May we grow, as a people, into the wise and noble ones that Messiah is looking for – that pure and spotless bride.

Just thinking…  (and not getting much work done)

The Messiness of Gentile Inclusion, Pt 5

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves

~ Philipians 2:3

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment,

~Romans 12:3a

My ancestors in the early days were carefully observed by the religious leaders as they moved out of paganism and toward Judaism.  As they became G-d Fearers, their walks were scrutinized so that the leaders and teachers could get a better understanding of what was truly in their hearts. Yesterday I finished my thought for the day asking about our Holy Master’s example and our serving one another.  Isn’t this what we’re instructed to be striving toward, more than outward appearances and dietary restrictions?  I don’t know how things worked in the First and Second Centuries but today one doesn’t draw the ire of many people by being kind and considerate.  If it was illegal to worship outside of the prescribed Roman way, and Jews had a special waver but that it came with special discrimination and taxes, what was a non-Jew who worshiped the G-d of Israel to do?  My guess is that laying low and flying under the Roman religion radar was a common thing for my ancestors.  Remember when people came to the Jordan River to hear John and when people who weren’t super religious asked him what they should do, he instructed them to do their jobs in righteousness and purity rather than telling them to stop being tax collectors and such.  I imagine that this same idea was applied to my ancestors back in the day.  “You’ve already received the mark of acceptance.  Walk in righteousness and purity, treat others well, and be humble.  You don’t need to do more, just keep growing strong in this way.”

If your Roman neighbor is a jerk, be nice to him anyway.  When he has a need, help him.  If he woke up on the wrong side of the bed, be kind anyway.  If he lives on the wrong side of the bed, be kinder still.  Honor your word and walk with righteous deeds.  What will your neighbor find to hold against you?  And if you are hauled into court because he finds out that you are a Roman atheist, then consider your struggle as a sort of honor because you are being persecuted for the sake of the Kingdom.  G-d will not turn away from you.  To me, this seems to be the crux of much of the Apostolic Writings.

While it’s easy to say, it’s not so easy to do. Continue reading

The Messiness of Gentile Inclusion, Pt 4

In this series of thoughts about being a non-Jew who adheres to Messianic Judaism I’ve wanted to touch on the shocking acceptance of Cornelius, the history of Gentile inclusion from the Scriptures, and an illustration about why I personally think it’s important to address the subject of Gentile Inclusion in a careful manner.

Today I hope to share some of my thoughts about what we who are MGs could do to make life easier.

Part 2 of this short series included some descriptions and examples of non-Jews who were recorded to be somehow connected with or living on the fringes of Judaism.  There are some interesting observations about such people.  I think that we can learn a lot from the examples that these people left behind for us, but we have to do a little digging.

If the “ger” became the convert and son or daughter of Abraham, then the “nokrei” is the pre-convert, the G-d fearer.  There are many reasons why conversion may have been discouraged by Paul and other Apostles in the First Century.  Some people, like the Roman Centurion or later on, Cornelius, may have lost their livelihood and become destitute while others may have had different concerns.  In the First Century it was against Roman law to be an atheist, to refuse to worship the Roman Pantheon. Continue reading

The Messiness of Gentile Inclusion, pt 3

I’ve written twice about some thoughts I have on the subject of Gentile Inclusion – part 1 and part 2.  So far I’ve been thinking about Cornelius in Acts and the few times when my Master Yeshua interacted with non-Jews.  Let me tell you why this is a topic that matters a great deal to me.

We raise cattle, sheep, and goats.  What we have the most of is sheep, and that means this is where most of our learning and experience is too.  We have always named our animals whether they were born here or came to us later.  One friend often says to us, “Never name something you’re going to eat.”  The last time this friend made this statement to us our daughter replied, “We always name them.  They grow better.”  Her reply got me thinking.  What did she mean that they grew better, and why? Continue reading

The Messiness of Gentile Inclusion, pt 2

Yesterday I wrote out a few thoughts based on Peter’s experience with Cornelius in Acts and ventured to guess a little about who this Cornelius man was.

Today I want to think out loud about the abundance of non-Jews we find in the Hebrew Bible.  Sometimes it is a reference to non-Jews directly, other times it’s a reference to the G-d of Israel being G-d over “all flesh” and that “everything that breathes” will one day worship Him.  My assumption is that “all flesh” and “everything that breathes” includes me, a Gentile.  My second assumption is that people like me are intended to be following the lead of the people of Israel as they are called to be “a light to the nations” and “nation of priests”.  My second assumption may not be the assumption that most people make, but as I read the Bible this assumption grows stronger and stronger.  I realize that we non-Jews have teachers and leaders whose task it is to show us the way, we’re not supposed to go our own way and hope to arrive at this intended destination.

We find mention of several different classes of non-Jews in the Hebrew Bible. Continue reading

The Messiness of Gentile Inclusion, pt 1

Our story has been messy, and that’s often the joke about this walk because it is indeed messy.  At first we didn’t know we were on a journey that would take us away from where we started, and then we didn’t know where it would take us at all.  To be honest, for the first few years we weren’t sure that anyone else was even on this journey.  Imagine our surprise when we discovered that there were others walking this same road.

It would be so easy, so nice, if this journey had been tidy and clean.  If we had a roadmap and clear instructions and people to show us the way.  Yes, that would have been great.  Goodness, even one of those things would have been a welcome treasure!  But instead we’ve had teachers we had never met, “virtual” communities, and vague idealistic ideas from our studies as we pressed ahead and wondering where in the world we’re going.

Today is a time when MJs is struggling with the idea of Gentile Inclusion.  This isn’t a new thing.  Throughout the Bible it’s been a dicy topic.  To say that people in the old days had to convert in order to be accepted might be a bit anachronistic, but that’s the way it had become by the days of our Master.  I’m not sure that the wives of Jacob’s sons had to convert or that Rahab and Ruth had to formally convert, and let’s not talk about the mixed multitude in the desert.  But by the time of the Second Temple, that’s the way it was.  If you wanted to be accepted by G-d and among Israel, you needed to convert to Judaism.  Period. Continue reading

The Messy-ness of Being a M(Non)J Part 5: Safely Landing

Years ago we stopped defining ourselves based on what we weren’t and started to define ourselves based on what we are:  Gentiles who practice Messianic Judaism.

What is Messianic Judaism and is that any different than the Hebrew Roots movement?

I won’t attempt to give a detailed answer to the question above, but I’ll do my best to give a brief explanation based on our experiences and what we have learned.  When we first started on this journey we did not realize that we were on a road that would take us on a journey that was so different than what we had always known.   We knew that things were different and we wanted to run this race, but we had no roadmap and we didn’t know any runners ahead of us in this race.  We felt like trailblazers stumbling through overgrown brush trying to make a trail for our children to follow and making things up as we went along, doing the best we knew to do. Continue reading