What I Found In Christ
I didn’t become a Christian because I thought that Christianity was nicer than Judaism. The fact of the matter is that I was far more comfortable with Jewish customs and traditions. I became a Christian because I was convinced that Jesus was true, that He fulfilled the promise of Scripture when He came to earth, died for our sins, and rose the third day from the dead.
Once I received that gospel message as being true, it followed that I had to commit myself to Him.
It’s not merely that my eternal destination changed, and I am now headed for heaven, which I don’t doubt one bit. But eternal life does not begin after we depart this earth. It’s a very real factor here and now, and I know, because I tested it.
Let me give you a few examples: 1) When I came to believe in Jesus, and prayed to receive Him, I received the Holy Spirit, Who strengthened me, and particularly strengthened my will to do what was right. Several times, I had tried to quit smoking. This was before the surgeon general disclosed how unhealthy it was. I knew I was addicted when I had to have a cigarette when I got up in the morning, after every meal, and I needed to smoke to have a good conversation with someone. But though I tried to quit, I never had the strength. Yet, in Christ, I prayed that I might have the strength, and found that I did. That also worked with other bad habits.
2) The second thing that I found through the Holy Spirit is that the love of God is shed abroad within us. I need to admit that I have always had a problem accepting other people, let alone loving them. I didn’t like non-Jews because I was persuaded by world events that they didn’t like us. And some of their quaint customs seemed to border on idolatry. I had the usual prejudices involving minorities. I prayed that I would really be able to love people who weren’t like me, and was surprised by the fact that I could disregard the differences and appreciate and embrace people for who they are.
But not only that, I prayed that I might love my wife and children (at the time, I only had one child) the way that I thought other people did. It’s not that I didn’t love my wife, but I knew that there must be something deeper, stronger than what I was able to feel. And when I prayed, I found my own love growing deeper.
3) I was told that when the Holy Spirit came, He would teach us all things. Many things were completely blank to me as a Jew. For example, the mission and destiny of the Jewish people just didn’t make sense. If God gave us the Land, why weren’t we all there? As I was growing up, the answer I heard to that question was, The rabbis say that we’re getting punished.” Still, I wondered, when would the punishment be over? Exactly what role do the Jewish people have in the world? Well, after I became a believer, I still had those questions. And while it took a bit of patience and persistence, I found out that the Christian Bible teachers believe more in the Jewish people than the rabbis I knew. And being Jewish made much more sense in the light of biblical teaching.
I miss my own people—believing in Jesus made me an outcast. The Jewish community is extremely defensive when it comes to Jesus, and the defense strategy is social excommunication for believers like me. I say “social” rather than ecclesiastical, because it is not a formal excommunication. Nevertheless, it is effective. Most Jews feel a need to withdraw from me, and from other Jews who are known to believe in Jesus—and though many withdraw politely, it hurts.
If it were not for the fact that the gospel is true, it might not be worth it. But the gospel is true, and God can provide the strength to endure rejection, and even to overcome the walls that have been raised.