February 06, 2017

Closeted Faith

I visited a church that seemed to be conflicted in their identity. The best way to describe it is a blend of Jewish, evangelical and mainstream traditional. One man wore a skull cap and when I called the church contact person to fact-check the spelling of his name I asked if the man were Jewish. Hesitantly the woman said, “A lot of us are Jewish…we just don’t advertise it.” I’m still bewildered by her comment, but I also see a parallel with the Jews who witnessed firsthand the miraculous signs done by Jesus. “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God” (John 12:42-43).

3 comments:

Steve Corey said...

Gail;

-----But she did, after all, confess their Jewishness when asked. And not advertising it might be the appropriate thing for them to do. For there is now no more distinction between Jew and Gentile in the Lord. Personally, I consider it sad when I see “Hispanic” made a big deal about Hispanic church’s, or “Black” about Black churches. I’m even bothered by the distinctions advertised between “Pentecostal” and “Baptist” and “Nazarene” and “Lutheran” and “Presbyterian” and “Catholic” and “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and “Episcopals” and “Anglican Saints”, and we all get the drift. Why should we be so choosy and groupie-like when it comes to gathering for worship, support, and evangelism? After all, it is only the Lord we call upon, isn’t it? Or do call upon “the” group, too?
-----My biases are aimed a bit more towards making a big deal about “body of the Lord” churches. “We love the Lord” churches. “We make no distinction” churches. “We don’t go beyond what’s written” churches, wherever they are. And many are; it just doesn’t show through each one’s particular, promoted distinction. Oh…and when I say “making no distinction,“ I mean no distinction beyond distinguishing between “practicing evil” and “practicing righteousness”. Even the ability to discern that distinction in others quickly disappears in the complex interplays between faithfulness and imperfection. I dare say we are unable to make such distinction between our very own most subtle habits and beliefs. Only the Holy Spirit has the ability to dice us down to the last jot. And He shows us more of what He discerns about ourselves the more genuine our desire to know becomes.
-----I only assume that you knew of the church so you could visit it by their advertisement of belonging to Christ as Christians. If so, that’s a good thing. And if this church truly is a blend of Jewish, evangelical, and mainstream traditional, it would appear to be closer to the, “Let everyone be fully convinced in his own mind…the faith that you have, keep between yourself and God“ (Rom 14:5b,22a) attitude Paul prescribes for Christ’s body of souls yet chained to imperfection.

Love you all,
Steve Corey

Gail Marvel said...

The blend of traditional and evangelical seemed more in outward appearance. The name Jesus was not used, but rather Hebrew variations of Lord and God. I could be wrong, but my sense was they identify as Jewish, but trying hard to be inclusive and appeal to mainstream.

Steve Corey said...

Gail;

-----I have a friend who has been stressed over the Yeshua, Yahweh, “You gotta know the name right; you gotta get close to Judaism” movement. We had a long conversation yesterday about calling on “the name,” and demanding precise name use is merely a form of idolatry. He had been approach by a few different groups, each one insisting that calling on the name of the Lord and praying in His name is recognized by Him only when His name is pronounced and spelled precisely as their group says it must be. It is an “I’m right and everyone else is wrong” mentality. which God’s Word says we do not know enough to rightfully hold. And it is just another modern form of Judaizing. It is interesting that you found these people trying to be inclusive. Evidently, there’s now two branches of this modern Judaizer movement: Judaizer -exclusive, and Judaizer -inclusive. Some of these people are thoroughly convinced you go to Hell if you don’t engage Judaism’s rituals.

Steve