Mishpahah, the community of family members that extends beyond the nucleus of parents and children speaks to me volumes of our need for one another. The context of this group as part of the “single worldwide Jewish Family” has its parallel in the largely notional worldwide “body of Christ”. As a tangible relationship we have yet to lay the foundation or to properly identify it clearly. This foundation, of course, is Christ, but for far too long we have attempted to “get it right” in terms of doctrinal statements rather then proper relationships and practices. Marvin Wilson points out that the Hebrew life was “tied primarily to a relationship, not to a creed”. Even this runs parallel with the Christian’s emphasis on “a relationship not a religion” but where we as Christians primarily speak of the “relationship” with Christ – as an abstract, the Hebrew rightly speaks of concrete relationships with God, through everything, and directly with one another – fellow believers – the Mishpahah.
This is far more then a “grass is always greener” mindset of someone raised in Christianity to that of Messianic Judaism. The practical, proven and consistent testimony of Judaism challenges me to look deeper at my own faith then ever before. We certainly have a strong heritage that has demonstrated tremendous virtue at different times of our history, small circles of believers who have resisted persecution, clung to each other, and to one another’s testimony. But each of these point to the bedrock of our Jewish heritage, not the mainstream ideologies of the Church – neither the individualism of Protestantism or the Hierarchal, forced conformity of Catholicism. Christians shine the best when they embrace principles found almost exclusively in Judaism. The Puritans for example, specifically chose Hebrew as their model. While even erroneously practicing Catholic asceticism, inherited from the Greeks, it was their Jewish like community that exemplified everything good and noble in them and that held them together.
When I think about the potential Christians have to demonstrate, properly, the genuine embodiment of Christ in the earth today, from this perspective, I am awed. When Christians are truly connected intimately and genuinely in close knit relationships – as “God intoxicated (and sobered), God thirsty (and satisfied)” people, no longer looking for the “escape” from our world – we will discover the joy of embracing our real mandate to change the world confidently and optimistically rather then fearfully. Mr. Wilson’s detailed description of the active kind of faith, that is the only kind of faith the Bible speaks of, describes a confronting attitude rather then a passive one. This kind of confident living comes not from having all our doctrinal facts lined up properly but from genuinely knowing “those from whom (we) learned it” 2 Timothy 3:14. Faith can be transferred from one person to another in loving contact, speaking, hearing, sharing in the sweet fellowship with His Spirit, AND practical everyday living - our “walk” gathered in His name. The Scriptures provide wonderful examples of men and women in vibrant, quality, and intimate, relationships that far surpasses what most settle for as “mere friendship”. It is up to us, and all believers, to discover, shape and develop these exciting relationships in ways that are not only beneficial to one another but also transform our societies to the glory to the Father.
Let us not cling desperately to yesterday but boldly reclaim what has always been ours and can never grow old.
Richard (and Marie)