Two Religions, One Messiah

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!

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9 thoughts on “Two Religions, One Messiah

  1. It is interesting how many times I have said similar to what you said in your entry. We are indeed two groups of people Gentile and Jew. As you have said there are differences in what we are commanded to do.When I entered the “Messianic Movement” I was offended by the fact that some in the movement considered me to be less of a believer than those who were born into the Jewish faith and found Messiah. It placed me in a sad position where I felt I constantly had to prove that I was equal to my Jewish born brothers and sisters in messiah. As time went on I questioned being held to the same standard but not being an equal part in the body of Yeshua. Likewise within the “Church” body I had come out of I was now becoming a person considered to be a freak and of questionable status as far as salvation was concerned. I was told either I was a believer in Jesus Christ and a Christian holding to Christian values and Christian traditions or I was a Jew and not a real believer in Yeshua ( who many still believe is not the Messiah but a cultish fabrication).A few years ago I found out that I was in all actuality born a Jew and adopted into a Christian home.This both cleared up and added more confusion as to just what I was to believe and what my place was withing the movement which I now considered my spiritual home.Having been told I was responsible only for keeping the Noachide laws something felt wrong with that, not in general principle but in the position I started in as a believer in this Jewish Messiah who lived differently than i did as a gentile Christian. Now as a Jew I felt a better understanding of why it felt wrong FOR ME. I like to think of myself as a learned man but not a great scholar but to me it makes sense that if you are called to be part of the Messianic Movemment then as you said if you are a Jew you need to remain a Jew in practice. You are instructed in Torah that G-d’s commandments are unto all generations, not till you accept Yeshua , Not till you become of another religion. We are commanded And you shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart and all your soul and all your might. we are also commanded “I am the L-rd Your G-d … , You shall have no other gods before ME. Ahh to justify Jewish Buddhists, B’hai , and so many others is for another time. Yeshua is not another god He is the G-d of Abraham Issac , and Jacob, in the flesh. The Promised Messiah as you well know, so for me it is a no brainer to say I AM A JEW . just as Yeshua was born a Jew , raised a Jew and died a Jew.was resurrected a Jew. and will still be a Jew when he returns A Jew but so much more way outside our little box we slap him into. Now for the gentile there was no covenent “between me and thee ” The Gentile world did not say to Adoshem Hey Ummm we’d like to be the ones to do what you ask , we’d like you to give us the Torah. No command as to when to worship or even to worship , there is no place in the scriptures that says the gentile world is under any authority other than the Noachide laws ( if you were a gentile in amongst the Jewish people. It was their option as to do it if they wished,( thinking of shabbas goyim) But if you were part of the community and were sojourning with the Jews it made sense to live your life as those you were around rather than feel like a “stranger in a strange land”. So my gut now says if you are a Jew and believe Yeshua is the Moshiach spoken of in the TaNaK , If you are a Jew who feels he is not running from Judaism by being a follower of Moshiach Yeshua . If you want to retain your Jewishness and not assimilate into a strange culture having nothing to do with HaShem or The God of Abraham Issac and Jacob then You NEDD to be a Jewish believer in Messiah and follow the covenant G-d made with HIS people . If you are a Gentile Christian and feel no calling to be more than a believer in Jesus Christ and that that is all you need that is your choice ( though i will suggest following the rules set for gentiles.) If you are drawn strangely to the Messianic Movement and feel there is so much more to learn and understand and if you drawn to follow Torah. Then do so ! Maybe it is some genetic thing making you remember , maybe it is HaShem Calling you Home. or maybe it is Your love for Yeshua saying I need to walk as My savior walked, as part of that Olive tree made of natural and grafted in branches. This does not mean gentile believers are free to do anything they want and because they say i accepted Jesus it is a free ticket to heaven ( faith without works). it simply means As part of the greater body of Messiah we need to understand there are differences and as a part of the messianic movement we need to show understanding and not beat up messianic Gentiles for eating a pigburger or staying with some of the odd customs.But if they claim to follow”Christ ” then they need to do their best to follow Torah the best they can (have the Torah written on their hearts)For though there may be 2 sets of standards we may be held to,if we are to be Yeshua’s followers are we not held to only one standard. G-d’s standard Pick which you shall serve G-d Or Mamon. ( can’t sit on both sides of the fence ) my personal feeling is if it is not cool with The Torah that we do it then it is not cool with Jesus (Yeshua) for us to do it. If you are deeply and fully involved in the messianic movement again a no brainer observance of Torah is written in your calling into the movement and you will know what to do. and as for non believers in all the world(pagans , weird religions , athiests , agnostics etc) well thats for another one of my ramblings.

    thank you Dr Schiffman for your post and for your far more eloquent writing style but then that is why you are a Dr. I am a lowly me…lol
    Your silly Brother in Messiah Yeshua
    Clayton Young
    Kol Shalom Messianic Ministries
    York Pa

  2. But there IS a difference between a Baptist interacting with an AME adherent verses a Baptist interacting with an MJ adherent. Every religious expression is inherently a challenge to all others. Some challenges are more serious than others. I have been shocked with the defensiveness I have gotten from Christians at times. They really seem to act as if they are insecure in their beliefs. You are correct in stating that ours is a different religion, not merely a denominational difference. Furthermore, Evangelicals & Charismatics take a strong “one law” position. We cannot both be right.

    I think that the awareness of the pagan origins of so much of Christian practice is the real problem. Before we got involve with MJ, I argued with my father for 10 years about the holidays. His preference was to do away with them all. My response was that you cannot have a culture without them. “G-d even gave holidays to His people”, I would say.

    Scratch someone who appears violently (as opposed to just strongly) anti-Judaism, and I bet you’ll find someone who is very uncomfortable in their own religious practice, and perhaps even afraid of what they might have to do if the alternative were viable.

    By contrast, when the local Chabad rabbi engaged me recently, he expressed surprise that I, a gentile, would be following Torah. When I responded, “He offered it to me first!”, I got a bit of a chuckle. This man is secure in his belief that I shouldn’t be following Torah.

  3. How about we simply recognize one another as “Kids of the Kingdom” Moshe and Eliahu the Jew and the Tisbit or Foreigner stood before and with Mochiach (The enemy was not in the camp at that moment (The 3 disciples were!)

    I would much rather have coffee with my(Elders, Judah) and talk about the kids….”How long are we going to be of two opinions?”

  4. What about Jews that see Messianic Jews and then question your Jewish-ness?

    I am dogma free and see all religions as many hands pointing to the same moon…. (somebody VERY wise described religion that way to me many years ago). However I think that it isn’t just wrong for gentiles to be critical- It’s wrong for ALL people to be critical and judgmental about how reverence for God is expressed. Who cares if you eat bacon or not so long as you’re a good person. If you call God by any name is not as great? How can a menial creature like mankind make claim to “their” God being better when ultimately God is God no matter what you call her? 😉

    • Sara, there are many kinds of Jews and they all don’t acknowledge each other. Orthodox don’t acknowledge Conservative and Reform Judaism as Judaism.

      All religions don’t point to the same God. You can tell the difference by their actions. Yeshua said you can tell a tree by its “fruit;” meaning actions tell more about a religion than dogma. The Sages of Israel did say in Pirke Avos that the righteous of all nations have a share in the world to come. You say “who cares if you eat bacon or not so long as you are a good person.” That statement is critical of those who follow Torah and refrain from eating it because the Torah commands us not to eat it. Walking with God means obeying HIM. Its not being a good person OR obeying his commandments. Its both!!!

  5. Shalom to all Messianic Believers,
    I claimed my religion as Christianity. But i wander and hop to many christian sect/ organization, and all of these sect claim they have the true doctrines of Christianity. But i sense many differences and claim to be superior and better than the other and i can tell they can never be united in whatever sense. though calling same GOd LORD JESUS CHrist.
    I can relate to these blog. I want to learn more about messianic hebrews / judaism. I am willing to submit under the authority of the Jewish people. I looked them as most blessed people and wish to gain favor from the Almighty One, through them.
    To identify and learn their practices is what im trying to search and needed to be trained.
    I am expecting the return of Yeshua the messiah and reign as King throughout the world, and seat in the Throne in Israel. I wish to be joined in these blessed community and nation.
    Shalom to everyone Jews who can read these message.

    Carolina M. Magno
    Philippines

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