David Brickner’s article has me grappling with an ongoing challenge: people are going to be offended by certain things that actually need to be said.
He gives our That Jew Died for You video as an example of a message that some found terribly offensive but others found very positive, or challenging in a good way. One friend and supporter of our ministry wondered if the video was effective enough to warrant offending many for the sake of those who responded positively. I take that to mean, “Was it necessary?” Here’s how I see it, and hang on, because I promise to get to how all this might relate to you.
Don’t let the Holocaust keep you from telling Jewish people about Jesus. Don’t give the Nazis that power
The already unimaginable catastrophe of the Holocaust has been compounded into an even greater evil by the perception that Jesus and His teachings were behind the hatred and the horrors. If by chance there is any sense of twisted pleasure to be had in Hell, I’m sure Hitler “enjoys” knowing that his atrocities have helped prevent so many Jewish people from hearing, and so many Christians from telling, the gospel. For me, the underlying message of our video is, “Don’t let Nazis make up your mind about Jesus. Don’t give them that power. If you don’t know Jesus, look at who He is and make up your mind from there. If you do know Him, don’t let the Nazis keep you from telling Jewish people or anyone else about Him.” So, speaking for myself, the truth of that message is worth the risk of offending.
Similarly, Avi’s refusal to be scared off by the young Nazi, with the fruitful conversation with a Jewish man immediately following, strikes me as a metaphor. I say it’s a metaphor because yeah, we’ve occasionally been literally threatened by modern-day Nazis but even worse, we’ve been denounced by some of our own people who really do see our evangelistic efforts as a wholesale attempt to destroy our Jewish people. Will we be moved, deterred by that? Would it make a difference if we gave way to fear of being compared to Nazis as opposed to fear of being beat up by Nazis? In either case, to give way means to forfeit the conversation with the Jewish seeker.
So what does all this have to do with you? Aren’t there moments when you know the Lord would have you speak up for Him, and you pause because you know . . . someone will be offended? Or you agonize over the fact that if you say what you know is true, you’ll be labeled and categorized in a way that is untrue and hurtful?
I think we’ve all been in those situations. I’m not saying we have to blurt out every true thought that comes into our heads. But there are times, we all know there are, when it’s not right to leave a false notion unchallenged. It takes a lot of prayer and sensitivity to know when to keep silent and when to speak up.
Sometimes God’s still, small voice tells us, “I want you to take a stand for Me now” and other times, it’s, “Don’t worry, this one is not your battle.” But how will we hear that still small voice if we are tuned in so intently to those who are taking offense?
Can we be compassionate to people without allowing their offenses to regulate us? Genuinely hear others’ concerns without being constrained by them? Can we truly care for others without handing them the power to say when we should speak or be silent? Through Jesus, and by the power of His spirit, we can!
Ruth Rosen, editor
Note: We don’t normally feature “So what?” in our print edition, but it is a regular feature in the online edition of our newsletter: every month you can explore how our newsletter articles might apply to your own life and witness.
Newsletter Editor, Missionary
Ruth Rosen, daughter of Jews for Jesus founder Moishe Rosen, is a staff writer and editor with Jews for Jesus. Her parents raised her with a sense of Jewishness as well as "Jesusness." Ruth has a degree in biblical studies from Biola College in Southern California and has been part of our full-time staff since 1979. She's toured with Jewish gospel drama teams and participated in many outreaches. She writes and edits quite a few of our evangelistic resources, including many broadside tracts. One of her favorites is, "Who Needs Politics." Ruth also helps other Jewish believers in Jesus tell their stories. That includes her father, whose biography she authored in what she says was "one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life." For details, or to order your copy of Called to Controversy the Unlikely Story of Moishe Rosen and the Founding of Jews for Jesus, click here. Or click here for a video desription of the biography. For the inside story and "extras" about the book, check out our Called to Controversy Facebook page. Ruth also writes shorter "faith journey" stories in books like Jewish Doctors Meet the Great Physician as well as in booklets like From Generation to Generation: A Jewish Family Finds Their Way Home, which you can download for free here. She edits the Jews for Jesus Newsletter and RealTime for Christians who want to pray for our ministry and our missionaries. In her spare time, Ruth enjoys writing fiction and playing with her dog, Annie, whom she "rescued" from a shelter. Ruth says, "Some people say that rescue dogs have issues, and that is probably true. If dogs could talk, they'd probably say that people have issues, and that is probably even more true. I'm glad that God is in the business of rescuing people, (and dogs) despite—or maybe because of—all our issues." You can follow Ruth Rosen on facebook or as RuthARosen on twitter.