Why are we “Messianic”? The most simple answer is, “Because that’s the label that most closely fits.” But the term Messianic is a rather broad one, and one that contains a lot of wiggle room. There are a lot of sects within the Messianic circle, just like there are within the Christian circle and the Jewish circle.
“Messianic” is easier to say quickly than “We are Law abiding, Hebrew Rooted Christians”. ;)
What is “Messianic” anyway? Here is an excerpt from the introductory paragraph from Wikipedia’s Messianic article:
Messianic Judaism is a religious movement whose adherents believe that Jesus of Nazareth, whom they call Yeshua, is both the resurrected Jewish Messiah and their Divine Savior. Many Christians consider Messianic Judaism to be a form of Christianity.
To make a long story short, as we began to study the Bible as a family in the evenings we found ourselves learning an incredible amount of new things. We would read a passage and look at each other asking, “Why haven’t I ever seen that before?” or “Did He really mean ‘Forever’?” You can read My Testimony for more on our story.
While we were seeing all kinds of new things in our family Bible readings, we began examining our “sacred cows” *. We were holding up all that we believed, all we had been taught, to the Scriptures and testing everything we held to. We so much wanted answers to certain questions, we wanted to be assured that we were indeed walking in the ways of the L-RD. While it was sometimes rather painful to thoroughly examine our “sacred cows”, it was good. It provided us an opportunity to draw some lines in the sand and it forced us to make some decisions. Which side of the line would we come down on? Who were we going to fear – G-d or man? Who were we going to serve? Whose acceptance and pleasure were we seeking? Which path – the wide or the narrow one?
Through our reading we learned that Jesus, or Yeshua – His Hebrew name, was a law keeper. Of course He was, He was Jewish, right? But you see, it’s deeper than that. He Himself said that He did not come to abolish the Law (the Torah of G-d, Torah meaning “instruction” or “teaching”) but to fulfill the Torah, to uphold it. This is traditional “Rabbi-speak”. You either destroy something by a poor interpretation of it or you uphold/fulfill something by your proper interpretation of it. If He ever broke the law or taught others to do so, if He ever taught that the Law was changed or encouraged others to teach that it had been modified, He would have been a false prophet by G-d’s own standards. Surely our Master was not a false prophet! The deep digging into this and other concepts, and the holding up of our tightly held beliefs to the Word was really quite exciting, it still is! We began to find that what we had held tightly to in the past was changing. We began to see that the whole of Scripture wasn’t a deep mysterious chasm that left us with more questions than answers, but the Word was revealing to us the Heart of our Creator. We were seeing our Father more clearly than ever before and finding such joy and peace in following our Master. So much of the Word began to become clearer and clearer as we read it with our new understanding. To say it was thrilling, exciting, amazing and awe inspiring simply doesn’t say enough – there simply are no words. If you’ve ever been down this road, and I know many of my readers have, you know exactly what I mean. Peace that passes all understanding, joy unspeakable and simply unmeasurable – those seem like adequate phrases to me. :)
We began to see that The Holy One, blessed be He, has not changed. He is still the same as He ever was. His heart toward us has not changed, His standards have not changed, His will has not changed. We have begun to understand concepts like holiness and righteousness, to better understand G-d and His Reputation and about The WORD. Yeshua surely could not teach contrary to the Father and the Spirit could never lead His followers contrary to the Word. If this is all true then what did Yeshua teach? What about the disciples and apostles? All of their teachings would have to stand on the foundation of the Torah (the instructions/teachings of G-d as recorded by Moses). We began to understand better how to walk in the footsteps of our Master, to live and do as He instructed. All of the sudden, everything was crystal clear and the mystery was gone. The only mystery we were left with was how on earth we missed something so simple, so plain, for so long.
The best description of “what we are” would be some combination of these: Torah Pursuant Followers of Yeshua or Law Abiding Students of the Master or Law Abiding Hebrew Rooted Christians. But that’s not really what people are looking for when they ask you what denomination or religion you are. We soon found that we didn’t fit in some of the same places that we used to fit. We generally aren’t accepted in the Christian churches we’ve been to or in the Christian circles we used to attend. We also aren’t accepted in the Jewish circles.
We began to search for an identity, a group to point to and say “That is what we are”. The title that contains our beliefs is the broad title of “Messianic”. We have discovered that there is a tremendously large number of people around the world who believe like we do. In the years since we’ve discovered this “title” we’ve seen it grow by leaps and bounds.
One thing that blesses us tremendously is that we came to these conclusions BEFORE we ever heard of a ministry or a book or a teaching that was “Messianic”. We had become rather firmly positioned in our faith and understandings before we ever found another group or ministry or set of teachings that agreed with what we were learning. When we found that we weren’t alone, it was inexpressable joy all over again. :)
For part 2 of this series, visit Why Are You Messianic Pt 2.
* “Sacred Cow” is defined as: an individual, organization, institution, etc., considered to be exempt from criticism or questioning.