It has been said that where there are two Jews there are three opinions. It’s a joke, yet it is true—and it applies just as well to those of us Jews who believe in Jesus. There are lots of opinions—and everyone wants their own to be perfectly clear.
Many people automatically associate anyone who is Jewish and believes in Jesus with Jews for Jesus. That leads to frustration, even resentment for some who may not wish to be associated with our ministry. Several individuals and organizations feel they must continually distinguish themselves from our mission in order to establish their own identity and opinions. Generally, that is not a problem. We in Jews for Jesus are also mistakenly identified with activities of other organizations and individuals. So the confusion cuts both ways, and in the end, is relatively benign.
But there is a problem that is far more dangerous, and that is a determined effort on the part of some Jewish community leaders to exploit the differences between Jewish believers in order to weaken our story. In an article in *Moment* magazine (a respected Jewish journal) Dennis Prager, a well-known Jewish talk radio host, suggested that those Jews who believe in Jesus but don’t insist on His deity and don’t missionize” should be accepted by the Jewish community as authentic Jews despite their belief in Jesus. They are to be identified as “Messianic Jews.” Those who insist on Christ’s deity and continue to missionize should be regarded as “Jews for Jesus” and excommunicated as heretics.
You would think that most Jewish believers in Jesus would see through this “divide and conquer” strategy, yet some are falling prey to this approach. In doing so, they have defined themselves and their opinions at the expense of brothers and sisters in Christ. In the process we Jews for Jesus have found ourselves publicly denounced by certain other Jewish believers for “proselytizing.” While this is detrimental to the cause of Jewish evangelism, it is not the worst of it.
This wedge-driving strategy is actually affecting some people’s theology. Influential people are waffling on genuinely crucial issues such as the need to believe in Christ for salvation. Some Messianic leaders are actively divorcing themselves from fellow believers while hoping to gain some acceptance by the broader Jewish community. They do not even see the connection between that hope and the slippage in their theology, especially in the doctrines of salvation and the nature of the church.
This particular wedge concerns us so deeply that we have written a two-part article to deal with it in *Havurah,* a publication sent out to some 20,000 Jewish believers in Jesus. The first article can now be accessed at our web site:
The second article, which deals more pointedly with these issues, will come out next month. If you are interested, be looking for the article at:
(this part of the article may not yet be online at the time you receive this e-mail, so if you get a “missing page” message, please continue to check back.)
In addition, you can download PDFs of both issues of Havurah at: http://www.jfjonline.org/pdf-jfjonline/HAVURAH/Havurah06-02.pdf
(likewise, check back again if this link does not yet work).
Division has plagued the body of Messiah since the early church, but it is particularly tragic when Jewish believers in Jesus part ways. There are so few of us, and the pressure to question or at least keep quiet about who we are in Jesus is great. Unity in Messiah unleashes the power of His Spirit, but divisions and quarrels weaken our story and rob God of glory. Our Messiah’s prayer should continue to guide our intercession for this vital organ in the body of Christ: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21)