An evil person is like a dirty window, they never let the light shine through. – William Makepeace Thackeray
For a short while the Rabbi went to visit his family so he had substitute leaders in his classes. In one class we were talking about conversion motives. One of the three ladies leading the course asked me about my wife. “She’s strongly Christian,” I said. “How will you raise your kids?” she asked. “A mixture of Jewish and Christian beliefs – something along the lines of Messianic
There wasn’t much more said, but a week after my last post (The Blogging Conundrum) the Rabbi held me after class. “There’s something I want to talk about. Something I heard was very concerning.” The conversation basically went on about how all Messianic people are duped or liars or couldn’t be trusted because in reality they are Christians trying to disguise themselves as Jews.
I agree that there are many problems with the Messianic movement, but if they are hesitant to admit they are Christian then it’s more often because the term “Christian” has been stigmatized in a way that doesn’t relate to their beliefs. The modern-day American/westernized “Christian” church for the most part doesn’t teach doctrine or morals or verse-by-verse truth of the entire scripture but rather pecks and pulls out what it wants for some agenda – often something that has to do with money or converting.
These same “Christians” choose certain commandments that apply to “followers of Christ” but choose to ignore the rest because of the belief that the Messiah (whether he’s come or not) will “release the yoke of the law” (a.k.a. do away with God’s law). This is a preposterous belief from feel-gooders and ego-strokers that have little to do with Christian or Judaic scripture. People who have studied both the old and new testament (at least as much as I have) see that God’s law is good to those who choose to follow all of it and that certain truths, such as Shabbos being on the last day of the week, are contradicted for political or man-made-religious reasons rather than biblical ones.
We then got into a discussion about how Jesus/Yeshua can not – in any way, shape or form – be even considered as a candidate of the Messiah. I brought up that a popular Jewish believe is that the Messiah fulfills two opposing lives or that there will be two separate Messiahs. That if this is true, we cannot completely exclude him from the picture. His point was that whether it’s reincarnation or Messiah-twins or any other concept … Jesus cannot be in that picture.
That put me in a difficult position. I believe there’s that likelihood that Jesus somehow fits in that role. Obviously, not all of the Messianic prophesies are fulfilled by Jesus. The concept that Messianics have is that when he returns he’ll finish those off. Jews strongly believe that the Messiah will completely reveal himself so that there’s no doubt who he is. I can see both sides.
I’m just thinking of sitting back and watching what’s going on, but not flat-out telling my kids that Jesus was a complete fraud, nor do I tell them that he is the embodiment of God. There’s a reason why God doesn’t show himself – we would carve idols in his likeness and start worshiping them. (Seen any crucifixes or statues in church lately?)
Telling my kids that Jesus was a fraud that would cause all sorts of confrontations with my wife. Second, I can’t convict Jesus any more than I can convict O.J. Simpson or George Zimmerman. I don’t know all the facts and according to many, not all the facts have been played out yet. I also know enough about politicians and how religion has played in that power to know how corrupt even Popes and Rabbis can be. History – both in the Torah and out – show this clearly. Possibly rooted more deeply is a fear of the whole “if you deny me I’ll deny you” thing. If there’s any possibility that he’s the judge that would be a bad move.
So because I won’t convict someone and refuse to create disputes with my wife and have this fear of judging someone who claimed to be the Messiah, the Rabbi and I have had to part ways – at least for a while. People in the Synagogue will murmur and whisper as people do… I’ll have to discuss that aspect in another blog (hence why this one has the “Erev” in the title).
I was taking the class to go through the process of conversion, and perhaps at the end of the course be fully convinced of some amazing truth that would have revealed Jesus as a fraud. I already agree that he was an apostate of sorts – not following the man-made additions of the old religion. Regardless of the outcome of the conversion, I knew it would be an adventure – to learn, understand, adapt and change. Perhaps it wasn’t that I wanted to become a Jew … but that I just wanted to be closer to God and sought refuge in an institution or a religion more deeply rooted in His words and ways and language than any other.
Had that one class leader not told the Rabbi that I used the naughty “M” word (“Messianic”), such as I’m sure many Jews did about Moses’ “M” word (“Murder”), the Rabbi wouldn’t have confronted me on the matter and I wouldn’t have fled to the proverbial wilderness. Maybe it’s far reaching to compare myself to Moses in these different encounters with others “gossiping” against us. Nevertheless, I feel a connection: that rejection – that fear – that urging to get away for a while.
I’m grateful for my Rabbis and what they have taught and still teach. There is no ill will from my end (hopefully none from his) and this Rabbi is completely justified within his rights to lead his congregation and help individuals in the best way he knows how. He’s a wonderful man and just as Moses arose out of the wilderness after visiting God, perhaps I’ll come upon an epiphany that will lead me back to the synagogue – maybe the Messiah will come tomorrow and just set things right. Until then, I keep searching, learning, reading & hearing… doing what I can to obey the LORD. As the Rabbi said at our last parting … “You would make a great Jew.”
There’s much more to this story for future posts ahead, but tonight is Shabbos and there’s plenty to do in preparation.