I checked out a discussion on another blog about Yeshua having kept the Judaism of his day, and was appalled to see how many gentiles objected to Messianic Jews living as Jews. Part of the problem is that most Christians just think of Jewish Yeshua followers as Christians of a Jewish ethnic background.
What they are failing to understand is that Messianic Judaism is not Christianity dressed up to look Jewish. We have different holidays, different worship expressions, and a different culture. We are very much two religions with the same Messiah. People who would visit a Black or Korean church and notice differences but not criticize, think nothing of criticizing Messianic worship and practice. Those same people understand that the idiosyncratic practices of those churches do not mean that they have to live or worship that way themselves. But God forbid, if a Messianic Jew elects to follow Torah in a Traditional Jewish manner, bus loads of gentiles come out of the woodwork feeling we are putting them down for not living according to Torah, or being divisive, or somehow requiring they live and worship that way as well.
Let me make it very clear. As a Messianic Jew who seeks to live a Traditional Jewish life, I really don’t care at all how non-Jewish Yeshua followers live as long as they treat me with respect and kindness as I try to do with them. Messianic Judaism is the original Yeshua faith, and therefore, completely legitimate. It was made up of Jewish believers in Yeshua in Jerusalem long before the first gentile came to believe. When Gentiles began following Yeshua, the Apostles, as recorded in Acts 15 and Acts 21, said non-Jewish Yeshua followers need not observe all of Torah to follow Yeshua. They Listed four areas where gentiles did need to observe, but did not require of them anything further.
They did not list this as a blanket policy for all believers. Jewish Yeshua followers were expected to continue living as Jewish people, which meant living according to the Torah. The concept of two subsets within a Universal Ecclesia was established by them. This means, if non-Jewish Yeshua followers choose to live according to Torah, that is fine. If they choose not to live according to Torah, it is also fine, as long as they observe the four areas outlined by the Apostles. It also means Jewish Yeshua followers were still covenantly obligated to live as Jewish people. The problems result when Non-Jewish Yeshua followers want Jews to live like them, or if they have chosen to live according to the Torah, they seek to push all non-Jewish Yeshua followers to live according to the Torah, which is not what the scriptures teach.
What is really needed here is respect. People need to respect each other with their differences without feeling threatened by them. Just because someone is Torah observant doesn’t mean everyone has to be. I attended a Messianic conference several years ago, where someone got on my case for observing Kosher laws. They informed me that they knew a Jewish believer who ate bacon and they were fine, so why did I need to observe the laws. I did not want to condemn the person’s behavior, and hope they repented, but I did point out that just because someone does something, it doesn’t mean it applies to everyone. I told them I knew a gentile who was gay, but that didn’t mean I thought all gentiles thought it was OK to be gay. Rather than think about what I was saying, I was accused of being stiff-necked and they left.
We live in a time when there are many differences between people. Our society is pluralistic, and that pluralism allows each person to determine their own pathway. That same pluralism allows us to live in freedom. We need to show respect for people with their differences, and respond to them with kindness rather than condemnation. If I am truly a Yeshua follower, and Yeshua accepts someone different from me, I need to accept them because He does. If a gentile is a Yeshua follower and Yeshua accepts me, they need to accept me, because He does. Its time for people to stop fighting about differences, and accept one another for Christs sake!