The Real Reason Jews Take Offense at the Invitation to ‘Become a Christian’

by | Jan 22, 2020 | Culture

I first visited Israel in 1976.

I had responded to a small ad in the back of a magazine that said, “Wanted: Christian clergy to visit Israel. Only $600, from New York City.”

It was sponsored by the Jewish Agency for Israel, an operative outreach for the World Zionist Organization, and the price was right.

It was 28 years after Israel had become a nation and three years after the Yom Kippur War of 1973 when Israel was surprised by an attack by a coalition of forces from Syria and Egypt, while the Jews were in their synagogues acknowledging their sins as a nation. Within three days, however, Israeli forces had pushed the Syrians back to the pre-war ceasefire lines.

All conflict finally ended 240 days later, with Israel gaining even more land in the Golan Heights from Syria and Gaza from Egypt. By 1976, the nation seemed fairly safe and peaceful.

The Jewish Agency set the daily agenda. About 20 American clergies traveled by bus to various national and religious sites during the day and were given various briefings by government and civic leaders. A Jewish rabbi traveled with us and invited dialog as we traveled. I remember how he seemed more knowledgeable of Christian history and theology than we clergy were of Jewish history and theology.

On several evenings, back at our hotel, we were presented lectures by various academicians on Hebrew history and modern Israeli successes. Again, I was unaware of much of Jewish history and persecution over the centuries—much of it caused by “Christians” and “in the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” At first, the lectures were interesting, but then I felt defensive—all right, self-righteous. After all, I had not personally discriminated against Jews—I barely knew any, nor had I done or said those despicable things.

Slowly, I began to realize how objectionable to many Jews such words as church, Christian, conversion or even Jesus’ name had become. Even in Bible college, I don’t remember being taught much about the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust. But these people had either lived through these terrible times or had relatives who had died in these atrocities.

These events were not 12th-century crusader stories to be read about in history classes. These were the events of family history for them. It is understandable how their views of Christians and Christianity were shaped by these realities.

—Jews were often killed indiscriminately by the “Christian” Crusaders, while they pursued their commission by Rome to drive “the infidel Muslims” from the Holy Land.

—During the Spanish Inquisition (14th and 15th centuries) many Jews were killed because they would not convert to Christianity, as demanded by the official church.

—For centuries, generations of children in Western nations were taught anti-Semitic attitudes by their own parents, teachers and even church leaders. Most Christians smugly called all Jews “the Christ-killers.”

—The Protestant Reformation did not “reform” those attitudes. Martin Luther himself wrote and taught against Jews with deep animosity. Unfortunately, it was common for the times.

—The Nazi Holocaust was birthed and nurtured in a nation that was nominally “Christian,” while most nations (sadly, including the United States) did nothing to stop the actual slaughter of the millions of Jewish people and other outcasts of society.

Given these failures of Christian history*, it is understandable why the idea of “becoming a Christian” is viewed by many Jews as a betrayal or renouncement of their own ethnic origin, culture and history.

Accordingly, many of those seeking to communicate God’s love to today’s Jewish people refer to themselves as “Messianic” rather than “Christian” and use the literal Hebrew equivalent of Jesus’ name, Yeshua, to overcome the corruption of His name throughout history and its negative use and meaning in modern Jewish culture. After all, Jesus is first of all the Jewish Messiah and the then the gentiles’ Savior (Rom. 1:16).

The apostle Paul urges us to do “good work—to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile” (Rom. 2:16). While the standard of living in modern Israel is relatively good for the majority, approximately 21% of Israelis (mostly immigrants and certain Arab communities) were recently found to be living under the poverty line—more than in countries such as Mexico, Turkey and Chile.

I have frequently given to IStandwithIsrael.com, “a benevolence outreach of Maoz Israel Ministries, established to meet the needs of hurting believers in Israel.” I invite you to review their mission and ministries and donate as often as you can.

Also, to better understand the cultural clash modern Jews and Christians often experience, you might want to read the personal testimony of Ron Cantor, “Leave Me Alone, I’m Jewish.” At his blog site, you can read the first two chapters free. Ron is the CEO of Tikkun International, “a global family of Messianic congregations, ministries, and leaders dedicated to the restoration of Israel and the church.” I have come to really appreciate his ministries and insights.

Finally, you will never fully understand and appreciate Jewish people, Israel or the modern Messianic miracle without visiting Israel. I recommend that you review the exceptional, pastoral-led tour opportunities through InspirationTours/Israel or the ones conducted by Ron Cantor, where you can be introduced to the rebirthed Messianic movement in Israel.

*Insights are drawn from Jack Hayford’s “Reaching His Chosen People,” Ministries Today (March/April 2001): 20-21. {eoa}

Ordained to the ministry in 1969, Gary Curtis is a graduate of LIFE Bible College at Los Angeles (soon to become Life Pacific University at San Dimas, California). He has taken graduate courses at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois, and Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. Gary served as part of the pastoral staff of The Church on The Way, the First Foursquare Church of Van Nuys, California, for 27 years (1988-2015); and served for the last 13 years as the vice president of Life on The Way Communications Inc., the church’s not-for-profit media outreach. Now retired, Gary and his wife have been married for 50 years and live in Southern California. They have two married daughters and five grandchildren.

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Troy Black Shares A Message to Help You Fight For Faith Again

Troy Black Shares A Message to Help You Fight For Faith Again

Young, old, rich or poor—nobody is immune to the feeling of brokenness. Jesus' life, death and resurrection on earth is a constant reminder that death no longer has a sting. Fear and hopelessness lurk throughout the earth trying to find an opportune moment to consume...

Kevin Sorbo’s Transformative Encounter as a Teen with Billy Graham

Kevin Sorbo’s Transformative Encounter as a Teen with Billy Graham

Actor Kevin Sorbo is known today for his roles in faith-based movies, like "God's Not Dead" and "Left Behind," but the iconic "Hercules" star's Christian roots took form at an early age. Sorbo recently told CBN's "Faith vs. Culture" he first read the prophetic book of...

7 Forms of Functional Cessationism

7 Forms of Functional Cessationism

In this article, cessationism refers to the doctrine, practice or belief that the ascension ministry gifts and the manifestations of the Holy Spirit ceased with the early church and do not function in the present church age (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 12: 4-11). The...

Practical Tips to Maximize Your Time

Practical Tips to Maximize Your Time

We all have the same amount of time—four hours a day, seven days a week. And the longer I live, the more I discover that time is too valuable for us to waste any of it. That’s why it is so important that we learn to live on purpose, for a purpose. The truth is if you...

Enter the Courts of Heaven with Rabbi Curt Landry

Enter the Courts of Heaven with Rabbi Curt Landry

This article was first released by Curt Landry Ministries. Note: This is the first of a two-part series of articles. When you enter heaven's courtroom to do spiritual warfare, you are asking that the will of God, what is written in His books, be released from heaven...

The Spiritual Awakening of Buffalo, New York

The Spiritual Awakening of Buffalo, New York

Monday night, Jan. 2, 2023, God drew our nation to prayer as Bills player Damar Hamlin experienced cardiac arrest on live tv. Could this have been the largest spontaneous prayer meeting in the history of our nation—beginning with players on the field, spreading to...

RECENT ARTICLES

Mario Murillo: ‘What I Have Said About Kat Kerr and Robin Bullock Stands’

Perhaps you read my previous blog entitled "Mario, where have you been?" I went through a fiery ordeal before I obeyed God and wrote it. I thought, "Why should I wade into such controversy and incur...
Dr. Don Colbert: How This Every Day Ingredient is Killing Your Brain

Dr. Don Colbert: How This Every Day Ingredient is Killing Your Brain

Read Time: 4 Minutes 43 Seconds Of the many artificial sweeteners out there, such as aspartame, sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sugar Twin and Sweet’N Low) and neotame (NutraSweet), aspartame is one of the most common. How common? Aspartame is an ingredient in more...

Messianic Rabbi: The Problem with Paul

Messianic Rabbi: The Problem with Paul

Read Time: 3 Minutes 36 Seconds I cannot tell you the number of conversations that I have participated in, or the number of sermons or Bible studies I have heard, where someone made the statement, “The problem with Paul is…” and then the person made a definitive...

Pin It on Pinterest