I have lived in Israel for 10 years and I gladly report that no one has given me the slightest trouble about my faith—until now.
I have shared the good news with Orthodox Jewish hitchhikers, seeking to get from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, with secular Israelis curious as to why I would leave the other promised land to come to a land filled with terror and $8 a gallon gas, and with many friends with whom God has given me favor who are curious as to what led to my belief in Yeshua—but none of them have ever reacted negatively towards me.
However, last week I engaged an Orthodox Jewish woman who blogs on one of the more famous English websites in Israel. I was intrigued by an article she wrote whereby she shared how deeply touched she was when she had dinner with two American pastors who visited her West Bank settlement. She seemed genuinely jealous of these men and their walk with God and grieved that traditional Judaism has not done enough to attract young people.
“And so, as I floated home I couldn’t help but feel that those people made me want to sit around a Christmas tree with them and drink eggnog. “And then it hit me – why many of our youth go “off the derech,” off the religious path, some even embracing other religions, and yes, some even joining the ranks of “Jews for Jesus.” “Perhaps we can learn something from our Christian Evangelical Zionist friends.”
Oh, she made it clear that she would never convert and despite her love for these pastors she lamented she did understand that “Christianity is a missionary religion.” But still, it was clear to me that she felt the presence of God on these men.
I sought to engage her in the comments area of her blog. She again, firmly, made it clear she was not open and expressed disdain for Messianic Jews. Part of me wanted to just let it go, being happy that these wonderful pastors had made such an impact on a Jewish woman. On the other hand, I wanted to see if she was interested in intellectual honestly… in other words, how can you say that evangelical Christians are swell, but Messianic Jews are deceitful criminals? Theologically, we believe the same thing—as Messianic Jews, we live as the Jewish disciples did—as Jews. Of course, this is the crux of the issue in her mind; you can’t mix Jesus and Jewishness.
I was gentle, but sought further dialogue. I also posted her article on my personal Facebook page, encouraging people that these pastors had made Romans 11:11 come to life:
“…because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” (Rom. 11:11b)