Question: What does President George W. Bush have to do with Jews for Jesus?
Answer: Absolutely nothing, if liberal media elites and Jewish community leaders have anything to say about it!
Maybe you heard, former President George Bush accepted an invitation from the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute (MJBI, not Jews for Jesus) to speak at their annual fundraiser in Dallas. When journalist Sarah Posner from Mother Jones magazine "uncovered" this story, liberal television pundits Rachel Maddow and Bill Maher, to name a few, raised a hue and cry about Bush giving credibility to "Jews for Jesus." (Our name is kind of like the "Jell-O" or "Kleenex" of the Messianic world … any Jews who follow Yeshua (Jesus) are likely to be "branded" Jews for Jesus.)
It was no surprise when denunciations began streaming in. Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League was "disappointed" that Bush was speaking to the group, while Stephen Wolpe, considered our nation’s most influential rabbi, pronounced himself "disgusted." Dennis Prager, a conservative Jewish voice much admired by many evangelicals, also weighed in, remarking that while he didn’t see Jews for Jesus as much of a problem, he still despises us. For what? That most censured of all activities, "PROSELYTIZING!" For several news cycles on television, radio, in newspapers and especially on the Internet, the disapprobation continued.
What is going on here? It is a strategy, and a time-honored one in free societies such as ours. Disapprobation, or the voicing of intense disapproval, is one of the most powerful tools used in attempts to squelch unpopular messages. The idea is to shame the messengers into silence by attributing motives or attitudes rather than dealing with the message itself. But even more, public disapprobation is intended to drive a wedge between those who won’t be silenced and anyone who might choose to associate with them.
Perhaps some hoped that the former President would back out of his commitment to address the fund-raiser. To his credit, George W. Bush did not back down despite intense pressure, even from some within his own circles. Still, a message was broadcast loud and clear. Any public figure had better think twice before having anything to do with Jews who tell other Jews about Jesus. There is a price to be paid in the currency of public opinion. But can we agree, there is an even greater price to be paid by those who bow to that public opinion?
I like what Jonathan Bernis, chairman of the board of the MJBI, said in response to the hoopla: "The idea seems to be that it is somehow ‘intolerant’ for Jewish believers in Jesus to share their convictions with other Jews. The real intolerance is coming from those who apparently think that no Jewish person should ever be exposed to the claims of the most famous Jew who ever lived."
What really and truly heartens me is knowing that so many in the body of Christ today understand what is at stake and, rather than buying into that intolerance, they are willing to stand with those who are constantly facing disapprobation. We praise the Lord for Christians who demonstrate great love and support for Jews who proclaim Jesus, despite the price they might pay by association.
Of course, some are not so supportive. During our most recent Behold Your God campaign in Israel, one of our missionaries was arrested for openly declaring that Jesus is the Messiah. Sadly, a local Christian leader responded by condemning Jews for Jesus via the Internet. Another instance occurred when a congregation that had teamed up with us on that same campaign was graffitied with terrible slurs against Jesus. Sadly, one of their members circulated an email condemning Jews for Jesus and essentially saying, "See, I knew we shouldn’t have had anything to do with their campaign."
I don’t know if that person failed to recognize the slurs scrawled on the church building were not against Jews for Jesus, but against Jesus Himself. And that is exactly the point! In the end, it is with the Lord Himself that people’s real disapprobation lies. He forewarned us:
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also" (John 15:18–20).
Our love for Jesus compels us to share His truth with others, and that truth is offensive to those who don’t believe. You don’t have to be in Israel or live in a Muslim society or under a communist regime like North Korea’s to pay a price for being a lover of Christ. No amount of kindness or generosity on a personal level or even by way of mercy ministries* will shield us from the disapprobation of those who disapprove of Yeshua’s message.
Let’s all be willing to risk the world’s disapprobation in order to make Messiah known as widely as possible
If we just believed in Him but never made it a point to tell others, we might escape most of the disapprobation. But since Jews for Jesus exists to make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide, I guess that pretty much settles it. We don’t especially enjoy annoying the Dennis Pragers of the world who wish we would just take our message and go live in some dark closet somewhere. But we echo one of the greatest Jews for Jesus ever, the apostle Paul, when we say, woe to us if don’t preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16). But conversely, it really is a joy to invite people to know Jesus.
I want to give a shout out to all those brothers and sisters in Christ who love us and have become family for those of us who have been turned aside from our own flesh and blood because we identify with Yeshua. It is such a blessing to know that so many brothers and sisters really do stand with us and support us in these efforts. Your encouragement helps give us the courage to stand. In turn, may we be an encouragement to you and so many others as well. Let’s all be willing to risk the world’s disapprobation in order to make Messiah known as widely as possible. He is worth it, don’t you think?
*I think that mercy ministries are an important outworking of Christian love, yet they do not replace a clear gospel presentation.
Want to read more like this from David? Check out "The Loving Thing"