A Word from Kevin
I’m always excited to meet other believers in Yeshua, regardless of affiliation or relationship to the Messianic Jewish movement. Recently, we were getting to know another believing family, and over the course of those first few awkward moments of getting acquainted, the young father asked me, “So, what kind of music do you like?” Now, being a musician myself, this was not a strange question to me—in fact, it was one which I could readily answer. Yet within me, it struck a dissonant chord of superficiality. Here we were: two men in Yeshua, two fathers of sons, meeting for the first time, and our best point of connection was the kind of music I like?
While one’s taste in music may be shallow common ground for planting a relationship, believers in Yeshua have been known to build on less. But what about more substantial issues, such as controversial doctrines? Are shared beliefs on things like “once saved, always saved,” predestination, baptism, speaking in tongues, or whether or not Christians are required to keep Torah, enough to establish the foundation for deep, enduring relationships? Or perhaps we can find our camaraderie over slightly less contentious matters, such as style of worship, method of prayer, or manner of preaching?
But what happens when our tastes change? What if our doctrinal perspectives shift? How can a relationship built on personal preference or position papers survive such a transformation?
An ancient voice keeps calling out, “In the wilderness, prepare the way of Adonai; make straight in the desert a highway to our God” (Isaiah 40:3). The prophetic call to be God’s trail blazers has been passed down through the generations—from Elijah (see 1Kings 18:36-37), to Isaiah, to John the Immerser/“Baptist” (see Matthew 11:10-14)—and it will continually resound until the Day the Master Yeshua triumphantly returns (see Malachi 4:5-6). Yet for today, “the way of Adonai” goes woefully unprepared. In our generation, we have misunderstood the instruction and wandered far from the path of our prophetic purpose. We have wrongly imagined “prepare the way” as a call to build, when it is, in fact, just the opposite.
Most of us (I hope!) would say that we love the Word of God… that we depend on it, submit to it, and try our best to fully abide by what God says. But the way that sentiment is realistically worked out in each of our lives is often dramatically different. Sometimes those differences are caused by the pervasive influence of the world. Sometimes it’s because we selfishly pursue our own interests. But in my experience, the fundamental reason why we don’t approach our relationship with God and our reliance upon His Word in the same way is because we do not bear the same standard when it comes to living for Yeshua. The reason we fail to know God and listen to His Word is because our aim has drifted from the goal.
Most of us toss around the word “friend” as casually as we lob our dirty socks toward the laundry basket. Friends—we think—are buddies, chums, or pals; people we “hang out” and “do stuff” with, or know from work or school. We call, text, and Facebook with their disembodied avatars; we meet them for lunch, accompany them on errands, and invite them over for dinner. We “go to church” with them, attend Bible studies, partake in fellowship meals—even pray, cry, laugh, and perform ministry together. But on what basis can we consider all (or any) of these acquaintances true friends? Surely, there must be more than mutual, interactive enjoyment, the sharing of common interests, or mere situational convenience. By what standard should we call one another “friend”?
I have this stupid idea that if each of us can stop thinking about ourselves for one minute, and humbly read the Scriptures without imposing our own preconceived ideas, pet theologies and personal preferences on them, that we will agree on the plain, simple truth of the Word of God. In this fantasy world of mine (you know, the one in which I have stupid ideas), even so-called difficult passages of Scripture fail to hinder us, because we no longer stand to lose or gain anything except the ability to know and follow God’s pure and perfect Word. In my enchanted and magical wonderland, we as disciples of Messiah are wholly submitted to the principles and commands of Scripture—no matter what they say, how they make us feel, or the cost that they insist we incur.