Passion is admirable. Fervor is exciting. Teaching someone about God is a joy. But when that teaching comes in the form of accusations or condemnations… what is being accomplished? This method and the attitudes that accompany it are frighteningly prevalent in the Messianic movement. Because of emotions and misguided intentions many are scared away from Messianics. Why should we think more highly of ourselves? Are we any better than our sinful brother simply because we choose a different menu or dress modestly or worship on a different day?
Thinking about this makes me wonder about the best methods of teaching people about what it means to be Messianic. Lately I have had quite a few people ask me about my journey and inquire about certain topics like Shabbat or Kosher eating or thinking Hebraically. In the past I’ve often gone the route of slamming the bible over someone’s head and trying to “prove” what I know to be right and make them see it like I do. I proof-text like a hound and I outline the key issues with panash. But mostly, that method didn’t bring anyone nearer to me or to God. So what is wrong with it? Why didn’t it work?
I realized that it is good to educate in the sense that it’s good to inspire… to point in the right direction, to open the door and say “Look through here. And walk through if you’re willing.” Sometimes when we teach it comes out like a stern lecture from a father or a mother. Or it feels like a slap on the wrist for something you don’t understand. One thing I like to say that illustrates also how I like to be taught is this: “I’m just a bum telling the other bums where the food is.” I’m just a hungry, ragged bum–all of us truly are. And we’re all desperate for food. And if one of us sees the good food and is nourished by it, we need to tell the other bums where it is. We need to open those doors and say “Look in there. And walk through if you’re willing.” We can’t shove or smack someone for not eating when they don’t know where to find the food in the first place. But we can show them. We can lead them. And we carry them if they need it.