The Professional Guest: A Question of Faith

Jewish torah scroll in cover

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.… John 15:18-19.

A Jewish friend of mine recently posted on her Facebook page that she had received an email flyer sent home with her child from public school. It was an invitation to join a Christian after-school group called the “Good News Club.” This had sparked a furor of emails from her and all her Facebook friends, over 50 comments which included: “This is not okay!” “You should contact the principal!” “Write a letter!” Their premise was “the school should not be hosting this event.” Separation of School and Religion and State! They even went as far as attacking Young Life, a Christian campus organization that my son attended. When you are a parent, you look high and low for things your kid can get involved in and when you are the parent of a special needs kid, the lariat grows even wider. My friend may encounter the special things that come with growing up Jewish, but she will never know what it is like to raise a child in the autism spectrum.

Her response made me feel sad, and worse, it made me feel attacked and hated. I laid in my room at night, looking up to the heavens and let sadness fill my soul. Maybe this is what the Jews felt back then when they were singled out. Today, I was singled out. I am a Christian and my son attended Young Life Capernaum, a special division of Young Life geared toward those with mental and physical handicaps. My son, who is blind and autistic, thrived at YLC. He looked forward to every get-together, found people he could talk to and came away feeling like his young, teenage life meant something. Those volunteers, all young people in their 18s and 20s surrounded my kid, made him feel special, made him feel called, and reinforced his beliefs. Those beliefs included worshipping God, confessing your sins and getting right with God, and then being the best human being you could possibly be: sharing, giving, receiving, forgiving, honest, kind toward others, and loving others.

Back to the Jewish slant on this story. I don’t just feel a kinship with Jews, I feel a brotherhood. But it has been a” big brotherhood” for over 2,000 years. They are the big brothers and we Christians are the little brothers. They carried the oracles of God for thousands of years. And they were instructed to keep certain rituals and temple instructions in order to never forget the one true God they served. He gave them rules and regulations to follow, not because He wanted a group of automatons, but because he wanted them to SURVIVE. If He told them not to eat pork, it was because He knew about trichinosis and other terrible things live in swine. It was about survival. He told them to stay away from dead bodies (“You are unclean..”)…why? because disease spreads with dead bodies. In those days before the advances of Medical Science and antibiotics, this was the way to preserve a healthy generation of people.In the decidedly pagan lands they traveled through, this was unique.

They were looking for a Messiah, an “Anointed One” because he had been prophesied through their scriptures. I think they were expecting a kingly warrior to ride in on horseback and defeat their enemies, even though their scriptures clearly said he would be humble, be from Bethlehem, come riding on a donkey’s colt, and suffer and die. (Read the book of Isaiah again). So when Jesus appeared and proclaimed that he was indeed God’s son, the religious leaders of the day couldn’t accept it.

It is wrong to assume that the Jews rejected Jesus. Most of the earliest converts to Christianity were first and foremost Jews. The “regular” Jews flocked to Jesus and his teaching. And why not? He healed everyone who came to him. His 12 disciples were Jews. It was the learned rabbinical sect that could not see him…the Pharisees, the Sadduccees, the religious teachers of the day. THEY were the ones who didn’t like Jesus back then, and they still don’t like him.

Just the other night, I met with the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. We had dinner together and she told me how her mother, who was born in Greece, was spirited away by Christians, hidden in their house and although her father and aunts and uncles were transported to Auschwitz, her mother survived, thanks to the Christians who hid her and adopted her as their own family. Once again, the little brothers were protecting the big brothers. She is closer in age to me. She still remembers.

I fear the younger Jews are forgetting the huge role that Christians played in resisting the Holocaust and saving the Jews. They are starting to bark at schools for sending home “recruitment pamphlets” from the Good News Club.

My advice? “Pick your battles.”

Christians have, for the most part, been friends of the Jews. There have been idiots over the years but they have not spoken for the majority. For the life of me, I cannot understand why the Good News Club poses such a threat to my friend’s school. After all, if they received the email flyer in their inbox, all they had to do was say “No, I’m not interested.” But they took it to the next level and viewing themselves as champions of freedom from religion, they called on each other to rebuke this expression of personal religion. I don’t think they would have done this to a Muslim organization. They’re not that gutsy. The threat is real for Islam. You get your hand cut off, your family can be threatened with death, your own children threatened with death and these threats are real.

I don’t know of any Christian organizations that does this other than the one or two stupid, deranged abortion clinic bombers and those guys are mental…through and through. They do not represent conservative views.

No, this is a decidedly Jewish thing. The Jews, themselves being victims of persecution, hounding, and bullying for their beliefs have banded together to become the champions of anti-bullying, anti-discrimination, and pro-underdog. It’s in their DNA to do this. This is not a bad thing! I’m thankful for the Jews who protest injustice and religious discrimination.

But the Jews need to be careful that they are not themselves jumping on the bandwagon of singling out religious groups, labeling them as threatening before even learning a thing about them. Remember, it was the Christians who hid many of the Jews during the Holocaust. I know of several personal stories from Jews who survived those awful years because Christians took them in, hid them, covered for them, at great personal cost. Why would a Christian do this? Because Christians worship the same God as the Jews.

On the other hand, I don’t know of any Muslims who shelter Jews and Christians. To me, Islam is the Anti-Christ. They are not even on an equal platform with the God of Judaism and the God of Christianity. The former love truth and life. The latter agree it is okay to lie, cheat, fornicate and kill in the name of their God. I’m not afraid to say it. I’m a writer. I must write the truth.

Back to the Good News Club. When I was a kid, my mother organized a Good News Club in our neighborhood. We were children of the 50s and 60s. Back then, most everyone considered themselves a Christian so it was no offense to get a flyer in the mail inviting you to the neighborhood Good News Club. We gathered in my house, in the den. My mother had flannelgraph boards set up and we saw pictures of Jesus telling the disciples to cast their nets on the other side. Then we saw nets full of fish. We saw Jesus on the Mount of Olives speaking the Beatitudes (“Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-12). I don’t think the Jews have ever understood that this was THEIR man, THEIR messiah, talking about the persecution that THEY would receive, and blessing them. He was a Jew, first and foremost.

We got little plastic tags to sew on our beanies for being part of the Good News Club. I was very proud when I got several tags. I think the Lions Club does the same thing, fashioning badges and pins from their global outreaches around the world. Even the English aristocracy does it, fashioning coats of arms. Everyone wants a badge. For the Jews, unfortunately, it was an arm sleeve band with a Star of David and the label “Juden.” But even they turned this into a badge.

So, I am slightly offended at the reaction of my Jewish friends about the Good News Club. For me, it was just after school instruction in religion. No one barks at them for going to Hebrew School. I do not expect to be barked at for going to Good News Club. If I got an email from school saying my son was invited to attend Hebrew school, I would either toss it or file it. Like any party invitation, all are invited. YOU DON’T HAVE TO ATTEND!

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