As we approached the City of Jerusalem yesterday our guide, Aaron, warned us about the “Jerusalem Syndrome.” This mental disorder is where people are so taken by the spiritual high of being in the Holy City, so close to places Jesus walked and to the other biblical stories, that they mentally snap and believe they are Jesus, Mary or one of the other biblical characters. Aaron warned us about this in the hopes we would not fall prey to this kind of delusion.
Now, most people don’t suffer from the Jerusalem Syndrome, but some are radically affected by the Jewish roots of their Christian faith in a way I think that can be negative. By this I mean they wish they were Jewish when they are not in order to identify with Jesus. And being in Jerusalem there is no better time to live out that wish. This desire manifests itself when wanna-be Messianic Christians buy kippahs (head coverings), tallits (prayer shawls), jewelry with all kinds of various Jewish symbols (Star of Daivd or a minora) or functional a shofar.
But have no fear, I will not coming back from this trip eating kosher, calling Jesus “Yeshua” (even though that is his name) or reciting prayers in Hebrew. Here is why:
I am not Jewish
(as far as I know)
That may not mean a whole lot to people, but it does to me. I know people (not on this trip) who are not Jewish, but they want to be, so they adopt Messianic Jewish practices. As much as I may want to identify with Jesus, I first heard about him through the context of a western, American, conservative, evangelical church and worldview. This is how I was introduced to Jesus, accepted Jesus and have devoted my life to Jesus. I am a child of the 2nd Covenant (the New Testament), all Christians are (ethically Jewish or otherwise). It is this very fact makes us not Jewish, religiously.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe to understand the New Testament, you have to understand the Old. To see Jesus as the Messiah/Christ you have to study Jewish tradition, law and practices. To get a fuller picture of the ministry of Jesus you should travel to Israel (you really should!). I don’t believe the Church has replaced Israel or that because of Israel’s sin they are X’d out of God’s covenant or promises.
I just feel I can be a Christian without having to become Jewish, partly Jewish or wishing I was Jewish. This is the issue the early church dealt with in Acts 15. From the lips of James, the brother of Jesus:
“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles
who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain
from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled
animals and from blood.” Acts 15:19–20
No, no one is saying Jewish nomenclature is necessary to be saved or close to God. But neither does it aid in being saved or getting close to God. The issue is one of authenticity. If you are a Messianic Jew, own it, love it and allow it to be your genuine express of devotion to God. If you are not, do the same. Just be who God created you to be and not something else.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there
male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28