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.