Steve certainly fits the world’s model of a self-made man. Yet the more I’ve gotten to know Steve, the more I’ve seen, and the more he would agree, that he might just as well be described as a self-ruined man. That is, he was ruined until Yeshua got hold of him! Indeed, on two consecutive days in the hopeless despair of a drug rehabilitation ward, Steve received the first really clear gospel witnesses he had ever had. One was from a nurse and the other from an orderly.
In God’s economy, both of those Christians happen to worship in the same building in North Dallas, but on separate days and with separate Christian congregations. One is a messianic congregation, and the other is a bit more universal in appeal. Those two individuals from the two separate congregations reached out to Steve. They both prayed with him to invite Jesus into his heart and told him about their worship services.
The Holy Spirit is infinitely wise and able to coach us in our flexibility. Maybe Jews need to hear from others who believe that Jesus is the Messiah before they can consider the message. Many seekers fear that they might end up being the only ones of their culture ever to make such a discovery. Could it be right if nobody else sees it? But perhaps it doesn’t take a truly orthodox form to impress a secular Jew who has already dismissed modern Judaism in his search for meaning and truth.
When Steve was released from the hospital, he headed for that building with the Jewish star on it—the place where both of those Christians he had met worshiped. Steve happened to come on Sunday, so there he sat amid the Saturday congregation’s banners of the tribes of Israel and the ark that housed a Torah scroll and witnessed the heartfelt worship of a lot of Gentiles through their contemporary-style praise music to Jesus. Somehow, Steve felt warm and alive and at home there.
The Gentile associate pastor was astute enough about cultural impact to bring me, a Jews for Jesus missionary, into Steve’s discipleship as soon as possible. A friend and I met Steve the next day, and we could see that Steve’s transformation was genuinely under way. His life had been turned upside down (which in his case was a good thing because he certainly had been headed in the wrong direction).
Without the benefit of many sermons, and with very little instruction, Steve already cared about the things believers care about. He wanted to be baptized. He had been reading the Word. He wanted to take steps to burn the bridges that had led to uncontrolled living.
Next Steve brought his lonely, unbelieving aunt from the Gulf area to Dallas to employ her and introduce her to the realm of down-to-earth Christians. (He had no problem with the name Christian,” considering it means “follower of the Messiah.” What could be more Jewish than that?)
Steve’s Aunt Elaine is about half a generation older than he is. He has introduced her to me. She is quite open to friendship and seems to be coming out of her shell. As a matter of fact, she has been more regular in meeting with me to study the Scriptures than her nephew. Elaine is a little different. She likes to speak in positive generalities that seem safe from conflict or argument. As she sees it, health and love are all that count, and we must be nice and tolerant to everyone we meet. (That statement may be good “guru stuff,” but it is not that simple. Health and love are not enough without proper faith in the One who gives us those qualities of life.)
Elaine has begun to recognize that Jesus Himself has already painted a “politically incorrect” picture for Himself. If He is the Way and the Truth and the Life as described in John 14:6, she must decide about those other religions. What are they? In the Jewish vernacular, “chopped liver”? (Yes!)
We have told Elaine that Jesus loves those who happen to be Buddhists and pagans, but they still need to accept His atoning work in order to have a saving relationship with God—that He loves meek individuals on spiritual searches so much that He won’t let evil ultimately steamroll them. We have told Elaine that if she really wants to know God, He will show her, and that Yom Adonai (the Day of the Lord) is coming—a good news day or a bad news day, depending upon whether a person is for the Lord or raging against Him and His Moshiach (Messiah) as we read in Psalm 2:1.
We have seen an unmistakable display of God’s keeping power in Steve’s life, and we pray the same for Elaine. We pray that Elaine will see the true beauty of Jesus, the Redeemer and Savior. In His own self-portrait, He has already spoiled her two-dimensional “ecumenical” view of Him. Now she needs to come to know who He really is. When she finds out what we believers have found out, she’ll like the real Yeshua even better!