Friday, March 4, 2011

Responding to Seekers

How do you respond to those that are seeking the truth? A rabbinical story is told in the Talmud about how different rabbis responded to one seeking to convert to Judaism. "There was another case of a gentile who came before Shammai. He said to him, 'Convert me on the stipulation that you teach me the entire Torah while I am standing on one foot.' He drove him off with the building cubit that he had in his hand. He came before Hillel: 'Convert me.' He said to him,‘What is hateful to you, to your fellow don’t do.’ That’s the entirety of the Torah; everything else is elaboration. So go, study." Shammai is much like some Christian workers today that seek to make it difficult to follow Yeshua. Contrary to Shammai, Hillel sought a method to make conversion as easy as possible. He understood that the journey of discipleship was a process. Yeshua followed the method of Hillel. He said, "Come unto me all that labor and are burdened down. Take my yoke upon you because it is easy." Now Yeshua also said that His followers had to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. There is no contradiction. There is a difference between starting the journey of faith and being mature in faith. Too often, we want new believers to be fully born and knowledgeable about all aspects of the faith.

We need to embrace the gentle approach of Yeshua. He is kind to those that seek Him. He promises to not turn away those that seek Him. What is our approach to new opportunities to share our faith? I have seen the "hell fire and brimstone" approach of the Westboro Baptist Church and I have seen the "seeker sensitive" method that places no requirements for discipleship. Neither is Yeshua's method. He taught that His followers had to repent. We have previously seen that the word picture for "repent" is "to destroy the house." Repentance is about changing the kingdom you reside in. The one following Yeshua has changed from darkness to light. There is a relationship with YHWH founded on the renewed covenant meditated by Yeshua. It is a better covenant because the Torah is now written on our hearts instead of tablets of stone. However, the Torah has not changed.

We need to respond to those in spirtual need like Hillel and Yeshua. Hillel went against the norm of the day by making conversion to Judaism as easy as possible. In the same way, Yeshua made discipleship as easy as it could be. You had to change your address, i.e. from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, but that was it. There is much to learn and it will take time to mature. We need to place as few barriers as possible between the seeker and YHWH. As someone once said, "We catch the fish, but He cleans them."

1 comment:

JJones said...

How dare those legal and social commentators, who never miss an opportunity to praise the Jehovah's Witnesses for stretching the boundaries of the First Amendment, now condemn the Westboro Baptists, whose actions in our time are no more outrageous than were the actions of the Jehovah's Witnesses during World War 2.

During WW2, Jehovah's Witnesses specifically targeted the homes of parents and spouses of wounded and killed soldiers -- knocked on those doors -- and told wives, mothers, and fathers that their husbands and sons had died not only needlessly and pointlessly, but in support of a government which GOD considered His enemy and would soon destroy.

During WW2, Jehovah's Witnesses would show up at War Bond Rallies and spew the same garbage.

1940s Jehovah's Witnesses would park sound trucks across the street from public schools and during recess and blast the school campus with pre-recorded sermons decrying the Pledge of Allegiance. There were also instances of JWs going inside school buildings and passing out anti-Pledge literature to children in the hallways.

JWs also parked sound trucks outside of churches during ongoing services and blasted churches with pre-recorded sermons decrying church teachings.

JWs carried phonographs with pre-recorded sermons door-to-door decrying patriotism, Christianity, etc. During WW2, a WW1 veteran and then Deputy Sheriff ran two JWs out of his gasoline station after they started playing such a recording. One of the JW "pioneers" pulled a pistol and murdered the Deputy.

Post WW2, the WatchTower Society made a point of renting for conventions those facilities which had been named or renamed in honor of the WW2 veterans (Memorial Coliseum, Veterans Stadium, etc. etc.) so as to poke their fingers in the eyes of returning veterans and the cause for which they had fought, been wounded, or died.

1940s Jehovah's Witnesses would specifically target urban Catholic neighborhoods with door-to-door sermons and literature which defamed the Pope and other Catholic hierarchy, Catholic theology, etc.

The JWs of WW2 were the Westboro Baptists of today.

Make up your minds, commentators.