I happened to catch a PBS program, Jews and Christians: A Journey of Faith. The commentators, from a variety of Christian denominations and Jewish branches, were, for the most part, modern and liberal in their outlook.
By “liberal” I very much do not mean liberal in the sense of politically so. Rather, theologically so. People who, while don’t simply accept other faiths as being just the same as theirs, but people who are comfortable enough in their faith to be charitable to those who don’t share it. All told, the program was a welcome respite from those whose vision of faith damns everyone who doesn’t share that vision.
The program was most valuable in showing the Jewish roots of Christianity in ways that might have taken some Christians quite by surprise. But then, anyone who has been to a synagogue service on shabbat and to a Mass would be struck by certain similarities. Not to mention that we both, Jews and Christians, share what became known as the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, and both consider ourselves to be Abraham’s descendants.
One element of Christianity that has caused untold misery among the Jews has been the mission to convert the Jews, along with all others who don’t confess Christ as Lord.
A very simple commandment give to us by Jesus, which we normally refer to as the Great Commission. I’m pretty sure that Jesus would not have had Christians threaten the Jews with expulsion, prison, or death if they declined, but this is what has happened, time and again, throughout the history of the church.
As one born Jewish, I can personally attest to Christian anti-Semitism, coming directly from the pulpit. What I’ve learned, and what I believe the church has likewise learned, is that any person who persecutes a Jew for being Jewish is not in communion with our Lord. Such persecution is a sin against some of God’s people. And not just any group of people, although it is likewise a sin to discriminate against any person made in God’s image.
The Jews hold a somewhat special place in the history of God’s revelation of Himself to mankind. Even a casual reading of Scripture makes this evident. And one has to accuse God of being a liar, a double-crosser, in order to assume that the Jews are no longer a people chosen to carry God’s message to humanity.
Stated differently, God keeps His promises. From Pope Paul VI’s Declaration, Nostra Aetate:
God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues-such is the witness of the Apostle. In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and “serve him shoulder to shoulder”
I am convinced that the Jews will be given first dibs to accept Jesus as Lord at the end times. Romans 9 gives us the sense, from Paul, as to how God keeps His promises to the Jews.
Still, the hard fact remains, that no one will gain eternal life without confessing Jesus as Lord. John 14:6 — “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Sooner is better than later to know Christ in your hearts, my friends…