These days, it’s a rare occurrence to hear about people coming together in unity. Around the world, we are enmeshed in battles, wars and tensions. Closer to home, members of the messianic community are entangled in our own battles, be they theological, doctrinal or personal. People are intent on sharply clarifying their differences but as is often the case with any conflict, our tensions do not remain within neat borders.
The mainstream Jewish community is well aware of the things that partition us and is capitalizing on them, finding ways to widen the divisions even further by taking its cues from us. In Moment Magazine, Dennis Prager encouraged the Jewish community to, Divide and conquer the Jews for Jesus…” He separates us into two groups: those “…who have renounced Judaism and embraced Christianity by believing Jesus is God” and those “who believe Jesus was the Messiah, but not God. These people have not abandoned monotheism and can be embraced as Jews who have an erroneous messianic belief” (June-July 2000).
Our questions of identity are complex and in printing this edition’s lead article and its forthcoming sequel, our aim is not to encourage division. Rather, these essays urge us as Jewish believers to be theologically aware and astute as we encounter new and diverse messianic trends and teachings.
With this in mind, we’ve devoted the rest of the issue to stories of reunion, reconciliation and hope. At the heart of reconciliation is awareness of the need for personal forgiveness and the startling, unsettling, stupefying reality of God’s GRACE. Reconciliation also necessitates a response—the granting of forgiveness. Forgiveness calls for a willingness to forget, just as God chooses to forgive and forget our wrongdoing. When we are estranged from a brother, a spouse, a parent or a community, we must take steps toward forgiveness and then forgetfulness. We choose exclusion or embrace.
At the heart of the reconciliation stories in this issue of Havurah is the understanding that in order to be reconciled, each of us has to be willing to lay aside past hurts, missed opportunities and sincere regrets in order to gain the greater whole. As a messianic community, we must be willing to overlook our differences and seek to close the gap between brethren before we fall into the abyss of proclaiming, “I’m Jewish, you’re not.”
We welcome your responses to the questions raised in these articles and will print as many as we can in the months to come.