A Christian leader once asked me if I ‘liked Jews’? I thought it was a strange question to ask someone who is committed to sharing the love of Jesus with Jewish people, and I answered without hesitation, ‘Of course I do’. He appeared surprised.
‘I found them to be the rudest boys in school’, he said, ‘and they used such bad language’. Why did I like them?
I responded immediately by saying that I had found the Jewish people and their culture to be wonderful. Jewish people tend to be family orientated, they have a zest for life and a healthy ability to laugh at themselves.
Jewish food is fantastic and is shared generously with guests. Theirs is a culture of high morality, ethics and true community.
Jesus was a Jew
The Jewish nation was God’s channel for transmitting the Bible, the Messianic hope and the Christian faith. Jesus was a Jew, and it was Jewish people like Paul and Barnabas who brought the hope of salvation through Messiah Jesus to the Gentile world.
Despite their smallness as an ethnic group, the Jewish people have made an enormous positive impact in many disciplines – including music, art, science and medicine. Contrary to the iniquitous stereotype, I have never yet met a stingy Jewish person.
In fact, showing hospitality is a highly valued mitzvah (good deed) within Jewish communities around the world.
As I enthused about Jewish culture and eulogized the people, a look of utter confusion came over the man who had asked the question. He had judged the whole Jewish nation by his schoolboy experience of Jewish boys who used ‘such bad language’.
Was his school so special that only the Jewish boys swore? If every nation were to be judged by the language of their schoolboys, our own country would be damned without hope!
But how could any Christian not like the Jewish people? How can we not feel affection for a people who have given so much to the human race? Anyone who dislikes ‘the Jews’ must also dislike Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Moses, Isaiah, King David and the prophets.
They must dislike the Apostles, all the human authors of the Bible, all the first Christians and Jesus of Nazareth himself!
It will not do to say, ‘I don’t like the Jews but, as a Christian, I love them’. I would be horrified if my wife didn’t ‘like’ me but said she still ‘loved’ me. Christians would be outraged if a preacher said he didn’t like Africans, but supposed they needed the gospel.
It is hard, if not impossible, to be burdened for the salvation of a nation we dislike.
The British Jewish community has been so concerned by the rise in subtle anti-Semitism, that they have coined a new name for it – Judeophobia.
It is one thing to have an aversion to obnoxious schoolboys who happen to be Jewish. It is quite another to hate people because of their ethnic origin. Let us be clear; an antipathy to Jewish people simply because they are Jews is racism – whether expressed by a spokesman for the British National Party or a Christian preacher. We must not tolerate it.