Unchosen Loyalties

Apologies to those of you who’ve been checking the blog for a sudden disappearance over the last two weeks – I have been captured by a monster known as Work Deadline and chained to my office computer, but now it looks like the rescue team is on its way.

When I was in college and considering conversion to Christianity, a rabbi friend tried to talk me out of it, in part by explaining that, as a Jew, I am under the jurisdiction of Jewish law – whether I like it or not. I can disobey a law but I cannot opt out of the legal system, any more than criminals or relativists can opt out of moral law. This did not make much sense to me at the time. It seemed apparent that following Jewish law was a matter of choice, something people took on out of devotion to God, but certainly not because they couldn’t help it. I remember thinking that if this was the kind of thinking Judaism relies on, I was even less interested than I’d been before.

Ironically, the rabbi’s claim is much more convincing to me now as a Christian. All Christians are people of God, specifically the people of Christ, and come to be that way by choice. Jews too can become people of Christ by choice. But before that – regardless of that – they are people of God by election. God has a claim on the Jews, and we cannot run away. Perhaps that is why He makes sure we stick out like a sore thumb in every country of the diaspora, baffling those of us who have long disavowed their religion.

There is a special blessing, therefore, for Jews in choosing Christ – one that is perhaps not fully shared by our Gentile brethren.

A Jew can reject God and suffer the consequences, or he can acquiesce to God’s demands, whether with joy or with a pout. He is subject to the law of Moses; but no one is born subject to the law of Christ.

In Christ, then, God – the same all-powerful God who put the Jews in their peculiar predicament of chosenness (it’s nice to be special, but boy are there a lot of rules, and we can’t help wondering, as the old joke goes, why the s*** always happens to us) – offers the individual Jew what He offers every other individual: the opportunity to choose Him, to kneel next to His suffering Body while others walk away. The one chosen against his will receives a priceless opportunity to choose; the child burdened with family expectations, to offer his parents not obedience, but love.

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About The Groom's Family

I was born in Soviet Russia and grew up in Israel. I was baptized Orthodox Christian in 2006. Today my husband and I live in Northern Virginia. I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment!
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3 Responses to Unchosen Loyalties

  1. Romanós says:

    Sister, these are great thoughts and an excellent post, the second one I’ve read here.
    When I was a Greek Orthodox Sunday School teacher, one of my female students in the 6th grade looked at me very seriously—as I was explaining to the class how God is faithful to us, and once He claims us, we are His forever—yes, no escape! Something about what you wrote reminded me of that bright morning.

    Your post also brings to mind something I recently wrote at my blog…

    Worship of the Father is no longer ceremonies alone, and it never was. The Only-Begotten Son of the Father had to come, in person, to settle once and for all every dispute among the children of Israel on this and all other points. Those who worship the Father must worship in spirit and in truth. And He is the Truth.

    There is only One Israel, and yet there is the Church and the Synagogue. In the first, Christ is revealed, in the second, He is hidden. ‘Truly, God is hidden with you, the God of Israel, the Saviour’ (Isaiah 45:15). What tender and pitiful love the Messiah, the Christ of God, Jesus of Nazareth, must have for His people, to have suffered through the centuries hidden within them, as they have maintained their faithful watch over the holy things of God! How faithfully He has stood by them through their every persecution and suffering, even to the gates of She’ol, to near annihilation. He who prays, ‘Father, forgive them,’ has made good His prayer, becoming the Father’s answer, having emptied She’ol for all humanity, for all time, till the last human creature passes into the brightness of His mercy.

    • Romanos – that’s a lovely moment indeed with your student. My father was baptized as a toddler by his nanny, who didn’t quite understand that his family was Jewish (his mother walked in from work to find him with a cross around his neck, and hurried to hide it so his father doesn’t see it and flip out). I’d like to think God laid a claim there as well.

  2. Pingback: Will the Center Hold? | The Groom's Family

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