Christians’ responses to anti-Semitism: the worst and the best

Christians’ responses to anti-Semitism: the worst and the best

A pastor who had considered inviting Jews for Jesus to minister in his church wrote to us:

“I’m sorry, after what happened in Pittsburgh that opened many eyes to see ANTISEMITISM is alive and well in this country . . .  I cannot condone your ministry [i.e., evangelizing Jewish people] and will not allow you to come to my church.”

How sad! In recent years, entire Christian denominations have abandoned God’s call to share the good news with Jewish people. They think it’s the right thing to do. But what if I told you that failure to share Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) with God’s own people is an insidious form of anti-Semitism? It is nothing short of withholding the message of eternal life!

The Scriptures are clear

The Scriptures are clear that the good news of Messiah is meant for Jewish people: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek (Gentiles)” (Romans 1:16).

The deadly attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last fall sent shock waves around the world, and no doubt it was an eye-opener to the above-mentioned pastor. But having his eyes opened to anti-Semitism did not necessarily open his eyes to a Bible-based understanding and response.

We know from the Scriptures how Satan hates whatever God loves. We also know God loves the Jewish people and chose them to play a crucial role in His plans to bless the world. God promised Abraham, “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” (Genesis 22:18).

The failed attempts to derail God’s plan of salvation

Satan has tried time and time again to derail God’s plan of salvation by influencing evil men to attempt to annihilate the Jewish people. Next month the Jewish people will celebrate the Feast of Purim, the story of God’s deliverance of Israel from the wicked Haman, as told in the Book of Esther.  This story, as relevant today as it was when it unfolded in the sixth century BC, demonstrates God’s miraculous preservation of the Jewish people.

Purim is a day of feasting and celebration. But for many Jewish people in the United States this year, the celebration will be tempered by the tragic events of last fall. We are reminded that anti-Semitism is still present in our own country as well as around the world.

Christians who respond to anti-Semitic violence by backing away from the privilege and duty of offering Jewish people the gospel of peace unwittingly empower anti-Semites to do even more harm. Of course the gospel should never be forced on anyone; it’s to be explained with sensitivity and humility. But the gospel is life. It is our only hope. Anti-Semitism does not, cannot change that. But some Christians respond to anti-Semitism with mistaken ideas of what it means to love the Jewish people.

Righteous risk-takers

My Jewish people have a term, “Righteous Gentile,” to aptly describe those who risked their lives to protect Jewish people during the Holocaust. Who are today’s righteous Gentiles? They might not be called on to risk their lives, but they do risk their comfort, or even the good opinion of some, by stepping out in faith to share the gospel. That is love.

Christians can be faithful friends to Jewish people while remaining faithful to the Great Commission. We saw a beautiful demonstration of this last year in France. With anti-Semitism escalating there, an atmosphere of hatred — as well as deadly attacks — has many Jewish people wondering if it’s safe for them to remain in that country.

In the midst of that climate, Jews for Jesus helped bring leaders of the French evangelical community together with Jewish leaders and thinkers in a conference against anti-Semitism. To our knowledge this has never been accomplished before. Leaders from both communities have forged connections and are corresponding with each other.

Please join us in praying for these connections to bear fruit.

We’re seeing encouraging openness among Jewish people around the world. Many are seeking for answers and for hope. We have those answers. We have that hope. Why would anyone who loves the Jewish people refuse to share the eternal life-giving gift of the gospel?

Find out more about David Brickner, his writings, speaking schedule, and possible availability to speak at your church.

Download the entire February edition, including bits from our Dnepr and Budapest branches as well as an article for dog lovers who want to share Jesus.

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David Brickner | San Francisco

Executive Director, Missionary

David Brickner is executive director of Jews for Jesus. David oversees the world-wide ministry from its headquarters in San Francisco. David received his Master’s degree in Missiology with a concentration in Jewish Evangelism and Judaic Studies from the Fuller School of World Mission. He has authored several books, and has been interviewed on national television shows such as Larry King Live. David’s daughter Ilana is a graduate of Biola. His son Isaac is on the missionary staff of Jews for Jesus. Isaac and his wife Shaina have one daughter, Nora, and a son, Levy, which makes David part of the grandparent club, a membership he is very proud of. See more here.

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