Now for something a little different . . . At Tikvat David, we are in a series about our values and vision. As I see it, we have three meta-values in Messianic Judaism. They can be seen to spring from the words MESSIANIC JEWISH SYNAGOGUE:
MESSIANIC = Messiah
JEWISH = Torah
SYNAGOGUE = Community
Thus, to me, the three values of Messianic Judaism should place highest are Torah, Messiah, and Community.
By Torah, I mean God’s teaching. This starts with the Torah proper (Genesis through Deuteronomy). It includes the other inspired writings (Prophets, Writings, Apostles). But most importantly, in Messianic Judaism, when we speak of Torah or the Bible as a meta-value, we have in mind a particular way of reading the Bible.
You can read the Bible for many reasons (religious obligation, curiosity, historical interest, theological interest, etc.). But our way of reading the Bible, influenced by Jewish tradition, is to read the Bible halakhically, which means to read it in order to do it. From the Jewish tradition of halakhah, we learn to read the Bible as Yeshua and James recommended. We are to be doers of the word (James 1:22) and those who build our lives on Messiah’s teaching (Matt. 7:24-25).
By Messiah, of course I mean Yeshua (Jesus). But I also mean something more specific. It is not just that we value Messiah as a founder or a savior, but we recognize that God has given to Messiah all power and authority and that to be God-centered is to be Messiah-centered.
In Daniel 7:14, God hands over the kingdom to Messiah and puts all things under his feet. Our mainstream Jewish critics may say that Yeshua is an idol for us Messianics. Far from it, we are obeying God when we surrender our lives to Messiah and allow him to live through us. Our value in Messiah is not merely to recognize him, but to give up everything to follow him. When we in Messianic Judaism give up everything to follow Messiah, then the Jewish community will see something worth following.
I include myself in that little critique and I am realizing more than ever how much we need to grow in our seriousness about God and Messiah. We have not failed to bring more Jewish brothers and sisters to Messiah because we have been too Messianic, but because we have not been Messianic enough. And Messiah calls us to a life of radical love, deeds of mercy, and selflessness.
Finally, we place a value on community. Yeshua came to start a community. He chose twelve as the inner circle and built a community of a hundred and twenty in his day. And Yeshua’s teaching about community is radical. He is the one who said, “These are my mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters.” He is the one who said, “Love one another as I have loved you and by this all people will know you are my disciples.” He also said, “You are the salt of the earth,” meaning that we exist not for ourselves but for the world.
Torah. Messiah. Community.
Our movement must make the teaching of God, including tradition, a pattern to do and live out and walk in.
Our movement must place a higher value on being centered in Messiah, giving up self-will and cleaving to Messiah’s way.
Our movement must take up the call to radical community that is relational, selfless, and transforming.