Hudson Taylor was the first successful missionary from Europe to bring the Gospel to the people of China. Why did he succeed where others failed? Because he realized that it wasn't necessary to force European culture upon the Chinese as a part of the Gospel. He even adapted Chinese culture into his own lifestyle. Despite his success, he was despised by many other missionaries for "compromising" the Gospel --- for not making Western culture part and parcel of the "Gospel."
There is much "alien" culture that surrounds Gentile * Christianity, which makes it unpalatable to most Jewish people. Jews will nearly always reject the Gentile Jesus as being the Messiah, but will much more readily accept the Jewish Yeshua as being their Messiah.
It is wrong and unscriptural to force Gentile church culture upon the Jewish people as a requirement for believing in our own Messiah. Much of the Jewish culture and tradition is based on biblical teaching, and continues to be proper to follow. In the first century, the situation was very different. Then the Jews who believed that Yeshua was the promised Messiah continued to be astonished that Gentiles would come to faith in Yeshua (Acts 10). In fact, many Jewish believers believed that Gentiles must first convert to Judaism in order to come to a faith in Yeshua (Acts 15:1). But the first Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) declared the will of God in this matter, stating that they did not. If Gentiles do not have to become Jews -- certainly the converse must also hold true -- Jews need not become Gentiles to accept Yeshua. The Words of Paul are most clear on this matter: "But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called everyone, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. Is any man called being circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called." (1 Cor. 7:17-20)
In Messianic Judaism we see the greatest fulfillment of the breaking down of the Middle wall of partition. The congregations of the Messianic Movement worldwide will typically approach half Jewish and half Gentile membership (some have a greater percentage of Gentile, some a greater percentage of Jewish membership). This "oneness" is the testimony that Yeshua is who He said He was. (John 17:21)
In the first century, every believer could speak of Messiah Yeshua to the Jewish people. It was much harder to bring this Gospel to the Gentile. The reason is simple -- Messiah is a Jewish, not a Gentile, concept. Even when sharing with Gentiles, the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul, speaks to them from the Jewish scriptural perspective and presents Yeshua as the ruling Jewish King (Rom. 1:1-3).
In removing Yeshua from the culture and land and people that birthed Him, we have alienated that entire group to the truth of His identity. Truly, if there is one people, one land, one culture that cannot be separated from the good news of Yeshua, it is the Jewish people, the land of Israel, and the Hebrew culture. Let us press forward to bring the Good News of His coming to all, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first, and also the Greek." (Rom. 1:16)
A Messianic Gentile
in a Messianic Jewish Congregation
What is a Messianic Gentile? That seems like such a strange term. Perhaps the meaning of the term will become clearer as we attempt to clarify the meaning of "Messianic Jewish."
It is generally understood that being Jewish means that one is a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As well, it generally implies being a follower of Judaism and its practices. In another sense, it is applied to anyone who has joined himself to the people of Israel through ritual conversion. The term "Messianic" (meaning "of Messiah") refers to anyone, Jew or Gentile, who has chosen to follow the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus). In modern language, the term "Gentile" refers to someone who was born of non-Jewish parents and has not identified himself with Israel through conversion. Thus, the term "Messianic Gentile" could be applied to anyone who was born of non-Jewish parents and is a follower of Yeshua.
Most Messianic Gentiles have chosen to worship the Lord in a setting that is largely devoid of any Jewish culture -- the traditional church. There is, however, a small but growing group of Gentiles who have left the gentilized form of Christianity to join with the Jewish brothers and sisters who believe in Yeshua, to worship the Messiah of Israel in an original Jewish way. They have found that in returning to the Jewish roots of their faith, they have achieved a deeper understanding and more fulfilling expression of their faith. Many have begun celebrating the Levitical Holy Days of God, and, in addition, have found great beauty and blessing in partaking of many of the customs of God's chosen people.
We see in the New Covenant that Messianic Gentiles have met every requirement to be accepted as full spiritual partners with their Jewish brethren in the Messianic faith: "Remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh . . . were at that time, separate from Messiah, . . . strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah." (Eph 2:11-13) As well, Acts 15:23-29 clearly states that a Gentile need not become "Jewish" through circumcision in order to become a child of God. In fact, Rav Sha'ul (Rabbi Paul) states clearly that Jews should not seek to become Gentiles -- nor Gentiles Jews, but that each man should remain in the condition in which he was called. (1 Cor. 7:17-20)
We who are Gentile participants in the Messianic Jewish faith are not second class citizens, but are equal partners with our Jewish brethren. As equal partners, we also share the vision of a culturally Jewish expression of faith and an outreach that reaches the Jews first, as well as the unsaved Gentile. (Rom 1:16)
In summary, although it is improper and inaccurate to claim a Jewish lineage if we are Gentiles, it is good to share how we too have come to salvation because of our relationship with the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua. When unbelieving Jewish people hear of our zealousness for the Jewishness of our faith, and our excitement over the Jewish Messiah, it often provokes them -- the natural branches of the olive tree -- to jealousy, and thereby to a knowledge of and faith in Yeshua. (Rom. 11) We trust that they will see that Yeshua is not the Gentile God, but the Redeemer of Israel.
*Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary (1984) defines "Gentile" as:
"n. 1. Among Jews, one not a Jew. 2. Among Christians, a heathen or pagan. 3. Among Mormons, one not a Mormon." Strong lists goy/goyim translated 30 times as "gentile" and 371 times as "nation/nations." These articles are from a Messianic Jewish congregation, and should therefore be considered as viewed from the Jewish standpoint per Funk and Wagnalls.