It may disturb some to hear me say I no longer consider myself a Christian. “Christian” just doesn’t seem the right word to describe the faith journey I’ve been on. Lots of people call themselves Christians, but it feels as if it has become kind of a generic term in our culture. I’m very much still a follower of Christ, but I feel more complete with a greater understanding of the Messianic perspective and how it impacts my own faith.
You may have heard the term Messianic Jew (a person with a Jewish heritage who believes in Jesus as the Messiah), but what is a Messianic Gentile or even Messianic Christian? What does this “messianic” perspective mean?
A Messianic Gentile or Messianic Christian is one who has no Jewish heritage, but like the Messianic Jews, they also believe Jesus is the Messiah. So then, what difference does it make if one is called a Messianic Gentile or a Christian? A Christian, after all, is one who believes Jesus is the Messiah… right? Yes, but a Christian follows the traditions of the church (whether contemporary, liturgical, traditional, or any other worship style or denomination) while a Messianic Gentile is one who values the Jewish traditions as a part of their faith.
Jesus was a Jew-plain and simple. He lived in a Jewish context and engaged in Jewish worship in the Jerusalem Temple and synagogues around Israel. His first disciples were Jews and they understood what it meant to be Jewish. When the early church first began, many of the traditions of Judaism were carried over into the Christian church. Over time, however, as Christians separated themselves from the Jews they lost some of the most amazing traditions that God commanded in early Scripture that were designed to point people to Christ.
A Messianic Gentile desires to understand scripture (with a value on both the Old Testament and New Testament) through Messianic Jewish eyes. They desire to understand and engage in the feasts and festivals that have been a part of God’s word and Jewish history for over 3000 years. They value and cherish the Jewish perspective because it is the root from which the Christian church grew.
I know there are Christians who will argue against this, but I believe the Bible clearly indicates that our Christian heritage is found in that Jewish root. We are grafted into the Jewish olive tree of God’s chosen people. That olive tree consists of Jews who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah and Gentiles who have done the same. Paul clearly states in Romans 11:17-21:
If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
I have often said the more history I have myself, the more I’m interested in the history that came before me. Adopting a Messianic Gentile or Messianic Christian way of life is a way for me to connect back to the Jewish heritage of my faith and learn things I was never taught in the church. The simple term “Christian” just doesn’t quite totally fit who I am in my faith journey anymore. I treasure the Jewish history of God’s chosen people that is truly at the very root of my own faith.