Sunday, December 7, 2008

Divisions and confusion

I'm about to give away the climax of a story. I liked the way that this Jewish man's realization of his conversion is described:

I was not a praying man, but I opened my mouth. “Praised be Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe. I thank You for the fellowship and friendship at this table. I thank You for what we have learned at this meeting. I ask You now to bless this food, and I do so in the name of Jesus, the Messiah.”

For a moment I sat there amazed. I had prayed in the name of Jesus, the Messiah! It had not been planned by me. But the words had come from my heart.

The others at the table could have missed it, but they didn’t. They all knew of my inner struggles. Their faces were suddenly jubilant.

“Stan, you’re a believer! Praise God!” They got up in turns and hugged me. Several cried with joy.

And then I too began to cry.*

The story goes that one of the daughters in a tight-knit (American) Jewish family tells her parents that she has accepted Jesus as the Messiah. In shock, but out of love to her, the parents embark on a search to see if they can prove her wrong. Through slightly different paths, the husband, wife, and other daughter all find Christ and joyfully reunite.

While reading the book, I noted to myself that this was the story of a stable, loving family. To be honest, I sometimes associate broken families with lawlessness and stable families with Christian values. But in fact it's not always the case. In many cultures and religious traditions, the family unit is the focal point. Many relationships are marked by love. Maybe it's not God's love, but it is a love regarded by the world as genuine.

I decided to check one thing on Google before finishing this post. While searching, I was surprised to find that the story depicted in this book has in fact been refuted, by the author's own daughter (the one who reportedly accepted Christ later). She challenges her father's story, exposes his wrongdoing in his ministry, and is estranged from him. She has even set up a website to make sure everyone knows the truth.

It would seem that the Gospel has divided the family, not united them. Or is it a departure from the Gospel that is the source of the problem? I don't even know what the truth is, but it's very sad.

I'm not even sure now what to say about the passage that I originally quoted. I just thought it was just a beautiful description of how surrender to Christ can be manifested in someone's life.

There was a question that I had wanted to ask, before the scandal came up. I wondered if this was a good depiction of how any non-Christian family feels when a member surrenders his life to Christ. Close to my heart, of course, are Russians and Russian Orthodoxy. I wonder how Russians feel about their friends and family members attending non-Orthodox Christian churches. Is there dislike because it's not Orthodox? Does it feel like a betrayal? Or is there simply prejudice, fear of the unknown?

*Telchin, Stan. "Betrayed." Chosen Books, 1981. Quote from page 99.

5 comments:

  1. The info in your blog is very interesting, specially the post about the visa...

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  2. Such interesting ideas... I wonder, too. In my mind Orthodoxy is CHRISTIAN, as Catholicism is CHRISTIAN and I've always thought that faith in Christ seemed to connect all Christians. It always startles me when this is not the case. Two dear Russian friends actually shun me now because they distrust the Lutheran teacher who I invited to teach our Russian School. They demanded "her or them" and to them it was a choice between the TRUE CHURCH and something that only masquerades as such. Now, the thing is - their faith as Orthodox people is VERY profound. It is based in generosity, simplicity, loving-kindness, focused on Christ and his Word. That is why this separation seemed, actually, out of character for me. I absolutely cannot understand it.

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  3. It's quite a difficult topic, and I'm certainly not innocent of prejudice. Perhaps you're right, switching between denominations may not hold the same weight as the conversion of a Jew. Although, Protestants and Catholics have certainly had their moments. Would you be upset if someone from your family or church family left Catholicism?

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  4. Good question.... Actually, my devotion is to Christ. I would be heartsick if someone I love turned away from Him...but if it were to an evangelical church, or to become Amish or Orthodox - I'd consider that good. To me it is important that they not be lukewarm about the Lord, and I see that there is great truth in all Christian churches. If the worship or activities of another church blew their coals, I'd be glad, frankly. Though, of course, I relish the sense of unity that comes when we worship together.

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