How can a gentile christian effectively witness to a jew given the brainwashing/cultural differences on both sides?

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(NOTE: These answers are not presented in a particular order, just in the order that they arrived from our contributors. Feel free to add your comments. If you have a burning question send it to steve@saltshakers.com or if you feel able to answer these type of questions email us to join our panel of "messianic rabbis".)

MOSHE COHEN answers ...

This is a thorny subject. Perhaps the best way to answer is to speak as a Jew thinks when he encounters a Christian. This is easy as I am Jewish!

First and foremost we must remember that hardness has been placed upon the Jews BY G-D in order to allow the Gentiles to enter the Kingdom, not the other way around.
This should make and Gentile humble and afraid, as he is grafted in to the root of Israel, as a wild olive branch. See John 12:37 ff, Romans 10, 11.

When a Jew meets a Christian, he thinks of him as a pagan. Woah! Strong words; but the Jew sees a person who, he believes, has rejected G-d’s Torah (Law, instructions, feasts etc.) and does not help or support Jews, except for a small number. When we look into history, we see many cases of persecution of Jews by Christians. We Jews see our Jewish feasts replaced by Easter, Christmas, and the like. Most Jews know that these were pagan festivals that were adopted by the Roman church and blended into Christianity.

I think of it like this; broadly speaking, the Jews have kept the Torah, but missed the Messiah. Christians have found the Messiah but missed the Torah. Both are lacking.

I am not sure about every aspect of theology in regard to Gentiles keeping the Torah; there is much debate on this subject in my Messianic Jewish circles. My own opinion, as a Jew, is that the only way to provoke Israel to jealousy, as stated in Romans 11:11, is to make this happen through the salvation of the Gentiles. The hot potato, is how to do this? Again, my own opinion, as a believing Jew, is that the only thing that makes a Jew jealous is a Gentile keeping Jewish ways, the Torah, feats, etc, and finding the Messiah. Of course Jews do come to faith in the Messiah by evangelism, but overall, if a person is ‘saved’ as a Gentile, he should consider studying the books of Moses, especially Deuteronomy. This will give him insight into the Jewish mindset, and I hope, will spur him to living a Torah lifestyle. These people will be a powerful force in the last days, to reach to Jew and Gentile for Messiah.

If you are witnessing to a Jew, avoid the words “Jesus” and “Christ” as these have negative connotations to Jews. The Hebrew for the Savior’s Name is “Yeshua” and “Messiah” is Hebrew for the anointed One. Use books from the Tanakh only, Isaiah is a wealth of treasure of Messianic verses, as are the Psalms. Don’t use the words “Old Testament” as this is very offensive, use the word “Bible”, or “Tanakh.” Try to major on what the Jew does to atone for his personal sin. He will tell you he repents and carries on with life. Gently ask him why he does that, and he will say something like, “Rabbi so-and-so said”......

Ask him how he keeps the Torah, which clearly teaches that without spilling of blood there is no remission of sin, see Leviticus 4. Also, since the Kotel (Temple) has been destroyed, how he keeps the commandments regarding the Temple. He will probably get angry, but maybe he will also get thinking.

Of course the Spirit of G-d will help you and guide you, but I hope this brief answer will bet you thinking, studying, and witnessing.

BOB DOTY answers ...

Witnessing to a Jewish person is something that very, very few Christians are qualified to do. Over the centuries Yeshua has been continually presented to them as a “false Messiah.” Homes and synagogues have been burned, fathers and sons beaten and killed, mothers and daughters raped, children kidnaped so that they could be raised “Christian.” All of this was done in the name of Yeshua. The Jewish people have long memories. Explaining to a Jewish person how Yeshua fulfilled the prophecies in the Tanakh and showing them genuine love is the best witness of all. By all means, don’t tell a Jew that if he doesn’t accept Yeshua as Messiah he is going to hell.. They will quickly tell you that Jews will make it in before Gentiles do.

RABBI JOSEPH KRESEFSKY answers ...

This may seem like an easy question to answer but there’s so much more required to give an honest opinion, so for the sake of time, I’ll give you the straight-forward answer…1) It is so important for the Gentile Christian to express a humble and grateful heart to Jewish person and to build a relationship with them; and, 2) In order for a Gentile Christian to be able break-down any barriers with a Jewish person, the Gentile Christian is going to have to live like Y’shua (Jesus) lived. Paul said, “to the Jew I am a Jew and to the Greek I am a Greek.” Start partaking in some of the Biblical Feasts like Jesus did; get an understanding of all the commandments of G_d, not just the “Top Ten” as most churches would have you believe there are. Once you’re able to share with a Jewish person that you’ve experienced Passover, Unleavened Bread or Rosh Hashanah, you’ll peak their interest and be able to share an experience together which will hopefully lead you closer to their heart.

SANDRA JEFFERY answers ...

In order for a Gentile Christian to effectively witness to a Jew, a Christian must be very well learned in the Old Testament truths and understand the Feasts of the Lord and their meanings so as to make sense of Jesus and his coming in the New Testament, as well as his appointed time of death and resurrection. One also must have an understanding of the Jewish culture in order to interpret properly the saying of Jesus in the New Testament. All of this involves a great amount of study, and until a person has taken the time to learn the scriptures for clarity, I believe it is futile to attempt to witness to any Jew who has some knowledge of scripture and their history. (Note: Steve’s book ‘How the Church lost its Way…’ answers many questions all Christians have pertaining to the Christian faith and how Jew’s respond to our weak attempts to convert them as Gentiles in the Western Church. This is a must read for clarity regarding this issue). Thanks again Steve for your book!!

RABBI NEAL SURASKY answers ...

The best way for a non-Jew to witness to a Jew is by using the Biblical model, of course. Romans 11:11 says, “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.” So the way to reach a Jew is to provoke them to jealousy. But what does that mean? We learn what that means in the story of Paul and Barnabas, when they went to Antioch Pisidia. In Acts 13, the two Sh’lichim went to the synagogue in Antioch. It is important to note that there were BOTH Jews and non-Jews in the synagogue at that time. Paul preached the Gospel in the synagogue, and when he was done, it was the non-Jew who came to them and asked for them to continue the teaching. For the next three Sabbaths, they taught them. It was their zealousness for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that provoked the Jew to jealousy.

So the best way to witness to a Jew is to show them the love of God. This is a love for the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and a love for His people. It has to be a genuine love, not a love just for the sake of getting them saved. That love will be expressed through a genuine, one-on-one relationship. As the Lord provides the opportunities, and He will, you can share about your faith. What is it that makes you love the Lord so much? It is because of what He did for me. But you have to share with them from the Tanakh, and not from the New Testament initially, since the Jew doesn’t believe in the New Testament. But before you can do that, you have to earn trust, and that only comes with a relationship.

EVETTE LEWIS answers

Most Christians are naïve and really don't understand the history of the 'Christian' church/Jewish community e.g. the implications of the Crusades as well as the notions of Hitler (who considered he was a Christian) - which were played out to catastrophic conclusions - or the way that 'religion' has been used territorially and as a lever in wars across the globe.

Also, speaking as person (not particularly as a Christian or a Jew) the cultural differences between each of us can be huge - take for instance my experience of a meeting in Birmingham where I was one of around 5 white people out of around 300 black people. As I was walking into the meeting, I overheard criticisms about my dress code - I was not wearing a hat/scarf, I had jewellery on and a trouser suit rather than a skirt/dress. “These English people - tut tut tut!!” I felt really hurt that fellow Christians could be so scathing - but to boot, my friend was dressed the same - and she is black - so sharing the same skin colour was no protection from the comments as they were directed to her, too.

We had travelled around 40 miles to go to the meeting, and as far as I was concerned, we were all Christian - brothers and sisters together in Christ. The reality was that they had different traditions and cultures to us and so rather than arriving and entering into a church full of love and acceptance, we felt completely separated and our differences were an obstacle.

I would say that Love is the key to being able to engage with anyone and most especially a Christian / Jewish relationship would need Love to enable communications to be two way. Look past differences. We are all ‘products of our past experiences’ and some people are imprisoned by wrong teaching - the Lord may not put you on a stage with 300 people to preach to, but He will bring into your path people who need His love and kinsman-ship. It may be a small seed you sow, or you may be ‘watering’ a seed sown earlier, and the Holy Spirit (Ruach Kadesh) can act to give you the words that you need to be placed in their heart.

Psalm 119 v 46-48 (which is Hebrew as well as Christian) says - I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings and will not be ashamed, and I will delight myself, lift my hands up and meditate on Your commandments which I love.

Can you imagine the cultural difference between a us and a King? Well, Yeshua stands in that gap -o - as long as your motivation is Love, He will bless you and the person you are giving testimony to - forget the darkness of religious, creed and skin colour differences - you will be a blessing, Beloved, because He walks with you and is your light - G-d is Love - and you are the Apple of His eye.

Jews are waiting for Yeshua’s arrival, and Christians for His return!! Either way, He loves all of us!!

to Rabbi Surasky

How I loved the simplicity of your answer ... 'show them the love of God'. Pray the day will come when each of us, Jew and Gentile, will show the Love of God to one another and go forward. .. we have a long way to go.
Thank you and in His Love,
Mustardseed

Witnessing to a Jew

I think actually loving would be even better testimony than "showing love".

An Israeli.