When it comes to this month’s holidays, some of us Jews for Jesus find ourselves asking, Where do we fit?” We are in two communities who have very different feelings about the holidays. But we have found that the holidays actually put us in a great place to raise high the name of Jesus. Let me explain a little about how it works.
For many Jewish people, Christmas is a time for heightened awareness of our “differentness.” Questions that plague many Jewish people at this time of year include such challenges as: What do you do when you walk into a mall and there is music playing that is not your music? How do you react when your kids have friends who are all excited about celebrating their holiday and the kids just don’t find our [Jewish] holiday as momentous? Then there are the TV specials and the decorations everywhere you turn. Jewish people are a minority and Christmas is one of the times of the year when that minority status is felt most keenly.
The Christian community has a different reaction. There is usually some indignation at the commercialism and the secularization—or even paganization—of the holiday. Yet overall, most Christians have a sense of gladness at this time of year. We want to focus on the reason for the season. “Joy to the world, the Lord is come!” “Glory to God in the Highest!” Lyrics to the best of the Christmas carols resonate with nostalgia and great spiritual meaning for those who have placed their faith in Jesus as Lord and Messiah. Family traditions, friends, church, Bible readings, plays celebrating the birth of Jesus—all of these come together for Christians during this Advent season.
So where are Jews for Jesus in all of this? We are both Jewish and Christian and many of us grew up feeling that Christmas is not our holiday. Still, we have joy in contemplating the Advent of our Lord. Some Jews for Jesus do feel uncomfortable with the cultural trappings of the season, yet find ourselves desiring to sing the wonderful songs that express such deep reverence and personal experience. So what do we Jews for Jesus do at this time of year? What we always do—WE GO AND TELL PEOPLE ABOUT JESUS!
This season is not a dilemma for us—it is one of the best times for reaching out. Jewish people have an increased awareness of Jesus that promotes great conversations. The sense many have of feeling overwhelmed by someone else’s holiday gives us the perfect opportunity to emphasize the Jewishness of Jesus and the fact that His birth was predicted by Jewish prophets and celebrated by Jewish shepherds and sages alike.
Please be praying for us. All the shopping, holiday events, even the movies provide fantastic opportunities for evangelism. Pray that we will take advantage of this time in ways that please God and help many respond to His message of grace.
Josh Sofaer is the leader of the Los Angeles branch of Jews for Jesus. He is one of four boys, but no one else in his immediate family have come to faith yet. Josh previously led the organization’s New York branch and pioneered their children’s program on the East Coast. He received his theological training at Western Seminary. He and his wife, Annette, have two children, Eliana and Taliah.