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Torah-seeking Messianic gentiles are a work of God

"I am a non-Jewish Messianic Believer, and have been told that my calling as a 'Messianic Gentile' is to go back to a church and not become Torah observant."

In the broad Messianic world, there has been a large movement of Torah-seeking gentiles.

In fact, many Messianic ministries like First Fruits of Zion, Outreach Israel Ministries, and Torah Resource, are supported largely by non-Jews who are seeking a Torah-based lifestyle.

This was unexpected. The Jesus Movement of the 1970s, when God’s spirit was poured out on millions of Jews and gentiles, spurring the birth of the modern Messianic movement, did not anticipate all these non-Jews seeking Torah. It’s been my experience that Messianic Jews don’t really know what to do with all the Torah-seeking gentiles, except be ashamed of them.

Some Messianic believers, particularly those in the Messianic Judaism sub-movement, have reacted negatively. “You’re Torah observant? Pfft! You’re just playing Torah, not following it in the proper manner. Go back to the Church!”

Such people will cite 1 Corinthians 7, Paul’s recommendation to “remain as you were called.”

You know, where Paul says, paraphrasing,

“Circumcised? Stay that way! Uncircumcised? Stay that way! Slave? Stay that way! Free man? Stay that way! Unmarried? Stay that way! Married? Stay that way!”

Each person should remain in the situation in which God called him.

This is now being used against Torah-seeking, Jesus-following gentiles.

Should Messianic gentiles remain as they are, and cease seeking Torah?

My friend and Messianic scholar J.K. McKee has an excellent response.

J.K. McKee – Examining Paul’s Rule in 1 Corinthians 7:17-24

He notes how this same passage in 1 Corinthians has historically been used to justify slavery and theologically chastise those slaves who sought freedom: "Were you called while a slave? Remain as you are.”

It has been used to chastise women who leave abusive marriages: "You’re married - remain in the condition you are called!"

Religious authorities have repeatedly abused 1 Corinthians 7 to put less favorable believers – slaves, women, and gentiles – in their place.

McKee cites Christian bible scholarship and teaching which notes, and commends avoiding, the historic abuse of this passage:

“Paul’s...counsel...[in 7:24] can be mistaken as a call to inaction, to do nothing, or even to embrace the status quo. There are circumstances that the gospel cannot abide and we must be unmistakably clear about that. For example, no one should remain in a physically or emotionally abusive situation. The gospel does not call for one to do that. In a similar way, Paul’s counsel to ‘remain’ should not be used as a justification for not seeking better circumstances for oneself and an improvement of one’s circumstances.”

McKee digs further, getting into the Greek linguistics to answer whether the “remain (abide) as you are” pertains to a vocational calling of one’s status in life, or a calling by God to salvation and sanctification.

The takeaway is this:

Non-Jewish believers who are seeking God’s Torah – and for the first time in a long while, recognizing the whole of Scripture as holy and good and righteous – are drawn by God to live a life characterized by the Scriptures more than the secular world. Divine spiritual betterment. Messianic gentiles are evidence of God-at-work in the nations.

That confounds some who don’t understand what God is doing.

Perhaps Messianic Judaism should remain in the condition in which it was called: bringing Jews to the Jewish Messiah and Jewish Torah. It’s a righteous and holy mission. But legislating and regulating and discouraging God’s move among gentiles is a wild tangent and a distraction, and ultimately opposes a work of God in the world.

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