Yoo Hoo! Gentiles!
By Sam Nadler
Paul wrote to his Gentile friends in Rome, “But, I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them” (Romans 11:13, 14). Let’s look closer at Paul’s strategy for reaching all people, Jews and Gentiles, for Messiah.
You who are Gentiles…
But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles.” Though they were believers in Messiah, they were still Gentiles, just as Jews that believe in Yeshua are still Jews. There is nothing to boast of in the flesh for anyone. It is Yeshua who is our righteousness before God. Paul meant to especially encourage Gentile believers in reaching out to the Jewish people. We too want to encourage, train and work alongside Gentile believers as we reach out with the Good News. At Word of Messiah Ministries, our materials are meant to further enable all believers to effectively share the message of Messiah.
I Magnify My Ministry
“Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry.” Paul’s reaching out to Jewish people magnified his ministry among Gentiles. The point is, that by reaching Jews, not neglecting them, he increased his ministry to Gentiles. Paul’s concern for the Jewish people demonstrates the faithfulness of God (11:1). God forbid that one would think Paul’s ministry to Gentiles was a sign of God’s rejection of Israel! Rather, Paul’s desire and devotion to bring the Good News to the Gentiles was hoped to have the additional result of making Jewish people jealous and desirous of the blessings in Messiah that the Gentiles would evidently enjoy. So, even if like Paul, you are called to Gentile ministry, you will not hurt your work, but rather “magnify” your work by reaching out to Jewish people where you are.
By Any Means
“If by any means I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.” “If by any means” (or, “If somehow”) communicated Paul’s deep desire and sense of urgency. By saying “if by any means” Paul also indicates that he used various creative methods to reach out to the Jewish people depending on the circumstance of the ministry. In Pisidian, Antioch Paul “sat in the synagogue” and waited to be called upon to speak before saying anything (Acts 13:14-15). Elsewhere, he initiated action and boldly preached in the market places “to anyone that happened to be present” (Acts 17:17). There were no printing presses, Gospel tracts, radios, TV, or the internet, so he reached the crowds as best he could. In Ephesus he taught “both publicly and house-to-house” (Acts 20:20). In general, Paul made himself to be as a “servant to all…that unto the Jews he became as a Jew, to those under the Law, as under the Law…that he might be a partaker of the Good News” (1 Cor. 9:19-23). Recently, a Gentile believer wrote regarding how she might more effectively share her faith. I wrote back, “Try wearing a Jewish Star at work when around Jewish friends. When asked about it, you’ll have the opportunity to explain that your Savior is Jewish! You’ll be able to further share that the hope, forgiveness and joy you experience is because of the Jewish Savior of the world!” In fact, this is the very idea that Paul had regarding the Gentile approach to the Jewish people. He says in Romans 11:11, “salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make Israel jealous.” The idea that the God of Israel has brought salvation in the Jewish Messiah to the Gentiles should provoke the Jewish people to jealousy saying, “Hey, those blessings should be ours!” Yes, they should be, because they are the blessings of Abraham that have come to the Gentiles by faith in Messiah Yeshua, who is the very seed of the promise (Gal. 3:14, 16).
That Some might be Saved
This approach of Paul’s provides the pattern of outreach to the Jewish people for Word of Messiah Ministries, as well. In previous editions of the Shmooze Letter, we have reported on encounters with people at concerts, downtown tract distribution, holiday outreaches and from personal meetings and visits. We must do whatever it takes to reach out to the Jewish community with the Great News of Messiah. If one approach doesn’t work (or even if it does), we try another and another, even being “all things to all men, as a Jew unto the Jews” that some might be saved.
Culture, Compromise, or Creative Evangelism?
Many congregations and churches are concerned that by adjusting their cultural expression, they will be compromising their commitment to biblical truth in an effort to effectively communicate to the present generation. One concern is that changing the music from old hymns to a more contemporary style will seemingly validate “all that is wrong with the present generation.” Of course, many forget that some of the old hymns were ‘adaptations’ of saloon songs in their day. I do understand, though. We should never compromise the truth of Scripture or “water down the Gospel” merely to make it more appealing to people. On the other hand, The God of Creation is still quite able to give us creative and effective ideas to communicate His truth without diminishing it. After all, if Yeshua was able through the Incarnation to come into the “likeness of sinful flesh” without compromising His holiness, righteousness and love (Rom. 8:3, Phil. 2:5-8), I am convinced that, like Paul, we too can communicate the truth of Messiah without compromising our Biblical values. The problem can arise, however, if we have confused our cultural expression with the truth itself, and end up defending our culture rather than the faith. We must ask ourselves if we love our familiar cultural expressions and conveniences more than the Word of God and the lost for whom He died (John 3:16).
Let us do what we can, to reach all we can, while we can. If necessary, set aside old formulas from a past generation if they no longer effectively communicate, not allowing ‘traditions of men’ to replace the truth of God (Matt. 15:1-9). Let us, along with Paul say, “If by any means I may move to jealousy the Jewish people and save some of them.”
Please pray for Word of Messiah Ministries and the congregations we are helping to plant, as we reach out with the Great News around the world “to the Jew first and also to the Gentile!”