As we in Jews for Jesus present the gospel to Jewish people, we often encounter various objections to our message. An objection is really different from a question. A person sincerely seeking to know the truth and willing to believe in Christ would logically ask questions to clear up whatever part of the message he or she found confusing or hard to believe. An objection, on the other hand, seeks no response. It is a reason or excuse for not believing, and it becomes a smoke screen for the person who does not want to believe in Christ.
The oddity of this kind of reaction is that sometimes when people are putting up the biggest smoke screens, they may, in fact, be closest to coming to Christ. Some put forth objections because they really do not want to believe or hear our message and are trying to silence us. Others put forth objections because they are actually close to faith and are frightened at the prospect of becoming believers. Sometimes we are able to voice their unspoken objection” by asking, “If the Bible is true and Jesus is the Messiah, are you willing to believe and follow him, even though it may have severe social consequences for you?”
I encountered that kind of situation while I was traveling through the Midwest with the Liberated Wailing Wall, our mobile evangelistic music team. A Jewish man named Loren came to one of our church presentations on a Friday night. He had come at the invitation of two Christian friends. When Karen, one of our team members, talked with him after the presentation, Loren had many objections to the gospel, but he seemed willing to study the matter further. Karen gave Loren a copy of our book Yeshua, the Jewish Way to Say Jesus, and wrote down Loren’s name and address for future contact.
Sunday night Loren came to another of our meetings, and this time Karen asked me to speak to him. He had finished the Yeshua book. Afraid now that he believed that Jesus might be the Messiah, Loren confronted me with a whole series of objections:
“If I believe in Jesus, will I be buried in a Jewish cemetery or a Christian cemetery?”
“If I believe in Jesus, can I still go to my synagogue and observe Jewish rituals?”
“If I believe in Jesus, where will I worship—in a church or in a synagogue?”
“If I believe in Jesus, won’t I be betraying the whole concept of Judaism that we believe in only one God?”
Although each of Loren’s questions had legitimate answers, basically they betrayed his fear that he could not be Jewish and believe in Jesus at the same time. He was afraid of being ostracized by his Jewish peers if he decided to follow Christ. The real answer to all of Loren’s objections was that the Jewishness that Moses and the prophets taught our people was not the primary issue. Moses was not primarily concerned with ritual, nor with cultural separation, nor with mere concepts. Moses was concerned with God and Israel’s relationship to him.
I told Loren that it was wrong for him to be satisfied with a merely cultural Jewishness. He needed to be concerned about his relationship to God. That was his primary need as a Jew, to be in right relationship with the God of Israel. Loren had already read the evidence in the Yeshua book that Jesus was the Messiah, and he was beginning to believe it.
When Loren had first come into the church building that evening with all of his rapid-fire objections, he had not seemed very open to the gospel. But after he and I had talked for about half an hour, I stopped him and said, “I don’t know if I have any more answers that might really be of help to you unless, of course, you want to pray.” At that point, Loren really surprised me by saying, “Yes, I do. I want to receive Yeshua.”
Loren’s many objections to the gospel had been a mask, a smoke screen. He was afraid of the fact that he was beginning to believe. But when he came face to face with the real issue of reconciliation to God, Loren knew that he had a decision to make. Speaking to Loren and then praying with him taught me a lesson: Objections can be a smoke screen used not only by those trying to avoid the gospel, but also by those who are standing at the very threshold of faith!
Editor’s note: Joshua Moss led the Liberated Wailing Wall until December, 1985. He and our staff missionary, the former Gina Ciavolino, also a past member of the Liberated Wailing Wall, were married on December 28, 1985. Josh and Gina are now stationed at our Los Angeles Branch.