Monday, November 16, 2009

The Messianic Vision in a Gentile Church

Two weeks ago a friend from the IAMCS wrote a nice e-mail to me. One thing he said probably deserves a blog post.
It must be a great loss to have no Messianic community for worship and fellowship.
Actually, it isn't.

I certainly did miss the Messianic Vision. But my family has recently found a nice church named The River that allows us to continue being part of all six points within this plan of God.
  • As a church, it naturally can't be a synagogue. But two of the local synagogues are happy to have Messianic Jews visit, so my family can still participate as much as we desire in local synagogue life. (Sadly, this is currently quite limited by my wife's extreme gluten sensitivity.
  • The group is big on discipleship and making our lives appropriately like Yeshua's.
  • The pastor is knowledgeable about the Jewish roots of his faith and the significances of Yeshua's Jewish identity.
  • It is a good place for Jews and Gentiles to be worshiping together.
  • The group was expressly founded to be welcoming and helpful to people with big life-problems. Eugene, like many medium-sized cities, has its share of churches whose members look and act respectable to an extent that people struggling with addictions, poverty, family problems, etc. do not feel like they fit in. The River is not one of those. Because of this church purpose, the natural human aversion to God's difficult refining is talked about and not tolerated.
  • The River does little for Israel, but is at least more pro-Israel than the city's biggest synagogue!
I had earlier tried visiting the churches nearest my house (in case there was a sense of neighborhood I could be part of) and a Shabbat-keeping church (so I could worship on Shabbat). But I kept having the same problem: on many weekends only Smiley and I attended because of my wife's extreme gluten sensitivity. It just was not working to try to regularly worship without my better half!

I'm sure there are other churches in Eugene or Springfield that fit the Messianic Vision as much as The River. But for my family The River is best because several gluten-free families go there. So folks there know what precautions to take so gluten-sensitive people stay healthy.

Anyway, back to my friend's e-mail: worship and fellowship.

I still do the Messianic Jewish style of worship dance at home. That's really enough. I also dance in worship at any church I visit; I don't mind doing it alone. I suppose that if I wanted, Eugene has enough young believers that at any church I really joined instead of merely visiting I could probably rally together a group that also enjoyed learning to worship in that way. (I have not yet tried at The River.)

Regarding fellowship, a church is much easier than a Messianic Jewish synagogue. Part of this is the gluten: in a synagogue it is difficult to do anything without challah crumbs everywhere.

The other part of better fellowship is having less arguments. At a church led by the Holy Spirit people ask, "What is God telling us about how to worship?" In my experience, God is able to answer this question a lot more clearly (usually because people hear His answer more accurately) than when Messianic Jews instead ask, "What is God telling us about how to worship Him while using Jewish culture?"

Any of Yeshua's followers can have a more meaningful and sensible walk with God by knowing more about the ancient Jewish background of their faith. It is nice to know what the writers of scripture had in mind when they wrote what they did! But in many Messianic Jewish synagogues more time is spent discussing the ancient and modern Jewish applications: how to act, think, relate to God, and relate to other people.

As someone who grew up Jewish I love that culture immensely, yet at the same time it has been so refreshing to live a year almost without any discussions of what a rabbi said. Those discussions about applications were always much more divisive to community than helpful to spiritual growth.

So do I miss the Messianic Jewish worship? Only a little. Dancing in a group in unity is indeed part of why that type of movement is worshipful. Do I miss the Messianic Jewish fellowship? Not yet.

Would I miss the Messianic Vision? Tremendously, but I still get to be a part of that even without a Messianic Jewish synagogue.


Jeremy said...

Thanks for the insight. I agree with you about how churches tend to do better at listening to God. I also enjoy the intellectual aspects of Jewish culture. How can we have the best of both without having to go to more than one congregation? Or is it a good thing to go to more than one congregation?

David V.S. said...

> I agree with you about how churches
> tend to do better at listening to God.

Hm. Neither what I said, nor something I'd agree with.

Regarding your phrase "tend to" I'll only say that I've known many more chuches than Messianic Jewish synagogues, but I know more of the latter who take listening to God seriously and do so extensively.

Regarding my own phrase "hear His answer more accurately" I'll elaborate for clarity. In my experience, churches mainly ask God simple questions such as "should we change this?" or "which of these should we do?". These churches can clearly hear God's answers. Yet I won't say the Messianic Jewish synagogues are less practiced or experienced at hearing from God just because they muddle God's complicated answer when asking complex questions such as "how do we put together a seder, from the gazillion Pesach traditions and new inspiration, to create an evening that is worshipful to us, welcoming to a non-religious Jewish visitor, and edifying to a visitor from the Gentile church?"

andrew Ben David hessel said...

It is funny you should ask this. If you had truly understood the idea of Messianic Judaism, you would understand that only G-d can put these things in place. We use the worldly term Messianic, because it simplifies things in a simple world. Traditional ways are what you need to understand and this was our basis. Did Messianic Judaism hurt Eugene by leaving, yes it is because as a Jew we ought never loose our identifier, our traditions.....