THIS IS THE INTRODUCTION OF A FIVE PART SERIES, THE OTHER POSTS ARE A MORE IN-DEPTH LOOK AT SCRIPTURE
I read the book of Galatians this morning, and my heart was broken again for those who are in the "Hebrew Roots Movement," and those who are Torah-Keeping Christians. Paul and I have read quite a few books and articles written by Messianic Jews and Hebrew Roots proponents, so we understand well where they base their claims. It can be easy to be taken in, if you are not constantly filling your head with the whole council of Scripture (meaning reading the Bible cover to cover). I am writing this post with a particular audience in mind - those who are already Torah Keepers. (Though my prayer is that this post will bless all my readers, because chances are that you know at least one person - or read at least one blog - written by someone who is involved in the Hebrew Roots Movement, it is no small thing!) Please consider what I have to say. I have been down the road you are on, and I completely understand where you are coming from. Please know that this is not meant to be an attack, but a loving letter. I would not be putting myself under the scrutiny of all my blog readers, many of whom will not understand, were it not for my deep love and concern for you!
A prayer as I begin:
Father, please help me state things in a clear, concise way that will educate and encourage all those who read this post. If there be any trapped in any form of bondage, I ask that you will bind the Strong Man, Satan, away from their minds that Your Holy Spirit might work to transform their hearts. Use Your servant to show people Your Way. And, show me where I am in error or bondage as well.
I ask this in the Name of Your Son, the Christ, Amen.
A Brief Personal History:
Paul and I started looking into Torah Keeping in the Spring of 2009, after reading a few health books. These healthy living books were written from the perspective that if you keep the Law of God you will be healthy. One book in particular, which was written by a Messianic Jew, made a seemingly solid case that all Christians ought to be keeping the Law. I was persuaded and began sharing my findings with Paul. Together, we pursued this new-to-us idea that modern day Christians are to be Torah Keepers.
The first change we made was our diet, we began eating biblically clean foods - to the best of our knowledge. We read every label scrupulously. We threw out nearly every pre-packaged food item that was in my cupboards. We acquired a special cookbook, from the author of one of the books alluded to above. Just by taking this stance (eating only clean foods) we were cut off from nearly every family member and acquaintance we had! No one understood why we could not share a meal with them (without furnishing our own foods), and Christians were by far the least understanding - and typically, the most cruel.
Throughout our whole journey, it was the Christians who were hurtful to us, rebuking us with knowledge, but not always love. I am very grateful to the believers who loved us and prayed for us, without treating us like we were stupid! So, when I say I am writing this post "in love," you can be assured that I have felt the pain that well-intending Christians can produce!
Our second lifestyle change was to begin keeping a Saturday Sabbath. We kept our Sabbath from Friday night (sunset) to Saturday night (sunset). During that time we did not get on the computer, prepare meals, wash laundry, or do any other kind of work. Our Fridays became "preparation day" as we had so much to do to get the house and food ready for the next day without cooking or cleaning.
Paul's family could not understand our new way of doing things. And, at first they had no respect for our attempts to keep the Sabbath day holy. They would call or arrange for family get togethers on days that we could not participate. They were terribly hurt by our seeming lack of care or love for them. We did not mean to appear so un-loving, as that was not at all what was in our hearts. We truly believed that we were honoring the Lord above all, and that this was part of Christ's admonition that you have to love God more than family.
The last and biggest change that we made was a changing of the name of our Lord. Knowing that by One Name we would be saved, and that by One Name God would answer prayers and petitions, we became very concerned that we used the correct name. We began to be further separated from all the people we know and love, because we could not even pray together... because, who were they praying to? We were convinced that the name "Jesus" was an attack on the Son of God, the Messiah. We were disgusted by that name, because we believed that it was calling the Christ a pig - an unclean thing. (To my readers who have never heard any such teaching - please do not judge too harshly. It is by God's Grace that you have not ever been persuaded by such teaching yourself, and you ought to praise God and not boast at all in your own merits. You too can fall!)
Overall, we were in a position where we were keeping as much of the Law as we knew how. All the while, we were beginning to look down upon those who called themselves Christians, but did not keep the Law. We lost sight of the Gospel we once believed - for a time - and started focusing on our own deeds. How we kept the Law was far more important than the atoning work of God's Son on the cross.
I think that, for me, the breaking point was the name change. I felt like I truly lost Jesus. I did not know Him anymore. I was miserable. I began to hate preparation days and Sabbath. I was lonely and had no family or friends to turn to. I was cut off from all other believers, and in some cases doubted the salvation of all "so-called Christians" except for those who were Torah Keepers.
I was miserable. I felt like I was in bondage. I certainly would not have called this new life we had found "freedom!" I was trapped.
Read more in Everything Old is New Again - Part Two