For many years I had seen the signs that proclaimed JESUS SAVES—without a clue as to what that meant. It seemed like a sign that was put up for all the desperate people who needed some saving. Until thirty-two years ago, when I called out to Jesus to save me, and He amazingly and graciously answered. A day or so later when my made first step into a church, I was greeted by this loving woman who told me, “You’ve met your Messiah,” I was stunned. I truthfully hadn’t even thought about “uh oh, does this mean I’m converted?!” This was at a church on Easter—women were wearing Easter dress-up clothes, there was organ music, and it was thrilling to think that something that had been alien to my culture could now be appreciated and understood why there was a special day of celebration. This was in San Francisco, and one week later I traveled back to New York City where I had been living for about twenty years. Once home, I tried to find a place to worship, but somehow it felt like I was trying to fit into someone else’s shoes.
At the advice of someone from San Francisco, I went to a congregation where Jewish Believers were the majority who attended. When I walked into their lobby and talked to the man at the front desk, he seemed to immediately understand my “culture shock.” He even introduced me to a Jewish woman who at once began disciplining me. I came to love all the people there—we had so much in common and all loved Jesus. The head of our congregation was called Pastor, not Rabbi and on Friday nights he taught from the Old Testament and on Sunday mornings from the New Testament. We celebrated the Feasts and focused on how Jesus fulfilled each one of these holy days that had been part of the fabric of my life growing up with my parents. At one point the Pastor told the congregation, “I know the murmurings around here. You want more of the Judaism customs, more this and more that—I am going to begin teaching from Colossians because Jesus is all you need—not adding this and adding that.” At the time I didn’t understand what the murmurings were, but since that time as I moved from New York to Illinois to Alabama to Florida, I tried finding the precious congregation I was treated to in New York. Instead I found more and more rituals (more this and more that). There was no Pastor, but I needed to call the spiritual leader Rabbi. Both men and women wore kippahs and prayer shawls, with an overwhelming majority being Gentile. And very little of Jesus was taught. My husband and I chose for our place of worship to be Calvary Chapel, even after being accused by a Jewish Believer of having “assimilated.”
Yet at a church service when I heard the Pastor refer to the church as the APPLE OF GOD’S EYE, I confess I winced! All my life I had been told that term referred to us, the Jewish people. And if I heard someone refer to me as having once been Jewish, that made me wince, too. So where’s the balance? That was an honest dilemma.
I wrote the sequel to Naomi the Rabbi’s Wife to hopefully have the reader empathize with the balance their Jewish friend might be seeking—avoiding phrases that might be insensitive, but also to present the necessity for the Gospel to be at the heart of our worship. And today I know all those who have been truly saved by Jesus are the Apple of His Eye.
It can be puzzlement – but i hope perhaps my sharing will help with that puzzle!
Please, let me now what you think,