Real time news headlines take real time to sink into my soul. As the shock at the Poway Synagogue shooting has receded, my soul is finally catching up. One human heart cannot hold every tragedy, every shooting, every diagnosis. It is entirely too much. Yet, the heart of God is more spacious than we dare dream.
After a busy week of treading water, I finally had a little corner in my heart clear enough to hold a drop of the heaviness of what occurred this past week in an incredibly peaceful portion of San Diego.
The tragedy is made more atrocious by the fact that the shooter claimed some religious motivation in carrying out this terrible and chaotic deed. Anti-semitism breaks the heart of God. After all, God chose the Jewish people and set them apart as His own people. Jesus Himself was a Jew who wept over the nation of Israel.
In her book, Christianity is Jewish, Edith Schaeffer beautifully explains a right view of Judaism from within Christianity.
“People act as if Christianity is a new religion, which just sprang up two thousand years ago, but it is not new, it is simply a continuation. It is a fulfillment. It is a next step. It is the proof that the covenant with Abraham was true. It is Jewish. It goes back to the promise given after Adam and Eve fell – the seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent – and it turned out to be Mary’s seed.”
The Apostle Paul, though he spent the majority of his adult life on mission to spread the Good News to the Gentiles, wept for his own Jewish family, saying, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1). He speaks extensively about his heart for Jews in Romans 11, calling them the natural branches of God’s family.
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in’.” Romans 11:17-19.
Paul even goes further than simply honoring and admiring the Jewish roots of Christianity. Divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, he writes a promise concerning the Jewish people.
And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree? Romans 11:24.
There is no place for anti-Semitism within the Christian church. Rather, there is a place for pleading, with great respect and admiration, that the natural branches might believe in Christ and become completed Jews.
Paul, a Jew opened the way for Gentile believers. And now, we, as Gentile believers, are called to pray for a way to be opened for the remnant of the Jews. Edith Schaeffer writes the following of this privileged role we have as a kingdom of priests.
“So now all who believe and have therefore been born again, are in the place of ‘priests,’ and have a responsibility to pray for the rest of the people. It is a terrible thing to run away from this responsibility – it is a cruelty to those for whom we are the only priests.”
May we sob over the synagogue shooting. May we refute anti-Semitism in all its forms, be they subtle or overt. May we cry over the pride in our hearts that have forgotten that Christianity is Jewish.