Are you planning any New Year’s resolutions? Many people resolve to make long overdue changes in their lives during this season. Some resolve to lose weight—to go on that diet they’ve been thinking about. Others resolve to spend less time watching television and more time reading. Some will resolve to be more loving or save more money. Resolutions usually involve a commitment to positive change.
But sometimes the best resolution is a commitment not to change, a commitment to be steadfast. God demonstrates such commitment in His Word. For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob” (Malachi 3:6). “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
And so, the babe born in a manger in Bethlehem is the same One who sits on the throne, the same One who created the Universe, the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world.
Situations and circumstances change, but God tells us in His holy Word that His commitment to be our redeemer, to save us, to keep us, remains the same. Aren’t you glad that in this world of change, He has resolved to stay the same?
As the new executive director of Jews for Jesus, I find opportunities—and sometimes, pressure—to change. While I believe that some changes will be good and right, I need to make a different kind of New Year’s resolution, a resolution that involves a commitment not to change. I want to make the commitment to you that Jews for Jesus will remain the same in one very important way. We are going to continue being different.
From the very beginning, Moishe Rosen taught us Jews for Jesus to value the principle of “cognitive dissonance,” or the unexpected twist that causes people to do a “double take.” You see, people ignore what they think they understand, so if we don’t want people to ignore the gospel, we’ve got to present it in a way that causes people to think twice.
We will remain the same through our commitment to be different. That’s a bit of cognitive dissonance right there. But I’m not just illustrating a point, I’m telling you my commitment to what some may call an “oddball” strategy or tactic. Maybe you saw some of the photographs in our October newsletter, such as our billboard proclaiming, “Be More Jewish, Believe in Jesus.” The Bits From the Branches showed one of our London missionaries dressed in a cow costume, handing out tracts titled, “Mad Human Disease,” which presented the problem of sin.
It requires a bit of courage to do what others might perceive as eccentric. When you rub against the status quo, sometimes you get burned by the friction. We’ve got to be willing to take the heat…not unlike another Jew who walked this earth two thousand years ago. And like Him, we face many pressures to conform.
One pressure mounts as someone raises the fear of official or public disapproval. Such a person thinks that public censure is a “bad story.” But is it? Would our conformity bring about the kind of story that wins people to Christ? Do we expect the world to approve of any effective proclamation of the gospel?
Another pressure comes from those who fear that any unconventional means of outreach will cause us to lose support—but who are our supporters if not fellow nonconformists? If I am right about you, our Jews for Jesus supporters, you are much more concerned that we be biblically correct than politically correct.
We Jews for Jesus are never going to be “politically correct.” We’re not going to gain the approval of the world. We’re not going to be loved very much in the United States or Great Britain or anywhere else in the world—except by those people who love Jesus a whole lot. After all, our message is just as radical and just as much a threat to the status quo as it was when Jesus walked this earth.
Nevertheless, we are not total nonconformists. There are areas where we can and must conform. No matter how unconventional our presentation, we must be scrupulously conventional as far as doctrine is concerned. We must conform to Scripture and submit to conventional forms of accountability in our associations with and commitments to the church.
We must proclaim the truth: that people need to be rescued and that there is only one life preserver—the consequences of saying no to Him are greater than anyone could imagine. It’s not exactly a “seeker-friendly” message, but it is one that people desperately need to hear. If anyone stands a chance of proclaiming an unpopular message, we do. However, we need divine unction, we need the Spirit of God to infuse our efforts with His power, to give us courage. We need His help to withstand the “politically correct” mindset of the world.
I have a question for you. What first attracted you to Jews for Jesus? Was it that we were big or that we were bold? Was it because we were like other missions or because we were unique? If you are the kind of friend and supporter that I think you are, you appreciate the fact that we are doing the unconventional thing—only because it makes us more effective evangelists. Will you help us remain on that cutting edge? Will you help us to be “oddballs” for Jesus? Will you pray for me to keep being and doing what is right? Will you help me in my resolution to remain the same by being different? May God grant us the courage of our commitments in the coming year. May we continue to stand boldly for Him whatever the cost. That is my prayer and my resolution for the New Year.