CAN WE THINK FOR OURSELVES?
My friend Adrian called me today. She's a young mother who is in our Torah study group. She wanted some questions answered. She was recently visited by an older lady who belonged to Jehovah Witnesses. My friend treated the lady with kindness and respect as she listened to her espouse her religious beliefs in the JW organization. (I call it an organization because that is exactly what it is. I'll explain later. )
Adrian is very strong in her Hebraic faith, and wasn't influenced by the lady's teachings. However, she came away with some questions regarding the Jehovah Witnesses and their beliefs. It appears that the lady discussed scriptures and beliefs that were very similar to those of us in the Hebraic movement. Their focus on the kingdom. Yeshua (Jesus') reign as king in the millennial kingdom. The last day resurrection, etc. Adrian had grown up in a pastor's home and had been admonished to avoid such cult members. However, after talking with the lady, Adrian seemed to find quite a lot in common with her, and that concerned her. So she called me.
I told her I was very impressed with her "chesed" (loving kindness) in dealing with the woman, which had encouraged the JW lady to ask if she could come back again. However, I also cautioned Adrian that the JW organization members are well rehearsed in drawing Christians in with rhetoric and beliefs that believers share, without touching on the tenets of their belief that are not scriptural and are obvious conflicts with our beliefs.
The reason I called it an organization and not a religion, is that the Jehovah Witness headquarters dictates the tenets of their faith that all members must adhere to without questioning. They are discouraged from reading scriptures to find truth or form their own beliefs. They are told what to believe, and if they have questions or disagree, they are shunned. That also means that if they are expelled from the JW, they believe they lose their only chance at salvation and trying to make it into the 144,000 who will rule in the kingdom. It's control through fear. Many of us have been under that kind of controlling spirit with some of the organizations we've come out of. But perhaps even more insidious is the mixture of truth with falsehood. Again, how many of us can relate as we were also entrapped in the man-made trappings of religious organizations?
So how did we "escape" the falsehoods and find our way to truth? For most of us, it was (and is) studying the scriptures for ourselves. Setting aside (or letting scripture do it for us) the mixture of man's religious lies within Yah's truths. As we hungered for truth and to draw closer to our heavenly father, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) took us on an amazing journey. We are still on that journey! The miracle of this walk is that there is no "head" or "grand poo-bah" telling us what to believe and how to walk out our faith. No threats of expulsion if we try to search out the truth of scriptures for ourselves. We have each been given carte blanche to dig out truth, led by the Ruach. So, where am I going with this?
We all agree on most things and of course I'd like to think we agree on the fundamentals of our belief with scripture as our boundary marker. However, we do have things we disagree with. Sometimes vehemently. But that is the treasure from His field! We have been given the shovel to go out and dig up our own pearls. So when we can't agree on how to say the Father's name, or how to pronounce His Son's name, which calendar we should be using, how to observe Sabbath, how to celebrate the Feasts, or which Bible translation is the best, it's this freedom to have our own opinions that is making this "Hebraic Roots"/"Messianic" movement a true miracle in the making.
We must not let our differences of opinions separate us! We must guard against denominational-ism, the very thing the enemy uses to divide and conquer. We must not be like those other religious organizations who dictate every aspect of their members' beliefs, using mixture and fear to control their congregations. The fact that we can seek truth for ourselves and maybe disagree somewhat with our brothers is the true strength of this "calling out". Can we treat each other with true "chesed" and stay bound together by our love and adherence to scripture? Can we agree that it's okay to disagree on some things, and still stay in fellowship? If we seek to fellowship only with those who believe 100% as we do, we will soon find ourselves under the dictates of a leader or headquarters that will make sure we all stay that way.
"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35) -- Yeshua