Thursday, 2 May 2019
These words were spoken as a mild rebuke by a pastor friend some years ago. Since that time, I have not spoken of Christians from the nations as non-Jews.
What was his point? He explained. "My identity is a positive one, made up of ethnic roots, biblical roots and American influences. I am not a 'non' something but a positive something." So why do Messianic Jews and Gentiles continue to use the term non-Jew? It is because they have been told by some Gentiles that they are offended by being called Gentiles. They consider the word to mean pagan. Despite this, I would like to issue a plea that we continue to use the word "Gentile."
Further reflection will prove to any objective thinker that ethnic and national identities form part of the identity of individuals. We need to think less individualistically, as important as the individual is, and recognize that there can be no personality without dimensions of ethnicity, which include language and cultural ways of being. In the Genesis creation account God shows that He loves variety. He creates persons, no two of whom are the same. As part of this, He creates corporate ethnic identities. Every language has its unique angle on reality. Every culture produces its unique art and so much more. Eugene Nida, the dean of Bible translation, says that every language adds enriching perspectives for understanding Biblical truth.
Jew and Gentile in the Messiah should first emphasize their unity as created in the image of God and born again through Yeshua, having a new heart or spirit. We are together his Bride. This is our deep unity of identity in the Messiah. This will prevent the wrong kind of ethnic pride while enabling humble thanksgiving for the grace of God given to every distinct culture. The enriching variety of Jew and Gentile and multiple ethnicities will forever fascinate us in God’s eternal ages. "Gentile" is shorthand for those from the nations. It includes Russian, Chinese, Korean, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Zulu, Mayan, Indian, Assyrian, and so on! My friend was right. He is not a non-Jew, but a distinctive personality who is part of an ethnicity uniquely valued by God.
These excerpts were taken from my article.