Identity: Who We Were

There is a strange and exciting phenomenon taking place all across the world. People from all walks of religious life and various denominational backgrounds are being drawn to a different way of living out our faith than they’ve ever considered. It is exciting yet uncomfortable, fascinating yet confusing, seemingly simple yet overwhelmingly difficult. For many, this change comes all of a sudden…often overnight. This change is summed up in one word…Torah. The main challenge can also be summed up in one word…Identity.
One of the questions that comes up when we come to terms with this understanding is, “Why me?”. Personally, I know of wonderful men and women who spent more time in prayer than I did. They gave more than I did. They were much better Christians than I was, so why would God open my eyes to the beauty of His Torah’s validity and not them? From experience I can say that there truly seems to be no rhyme or reason in who God calls to His Torah. God is moving in cities, small towns, through nearly all denominations, in the United States, and all across the world. So why did I begin to hear something different than those wonderful people I worshipped beside all those year? Simply put…“His good pleasure”. It’s not for us to know or question why He called us. It was His prerogative and we are to be thankful and diligent.
Another question that soon arises is “Why not you?”. As we begin to share what we’re feeling as we pray and what we see as we study the scriptures, we soon realize that not everyone is hearing what we are hearing. We can read the Sabbath scriptures with people and, to our amazement, they don’t see what we see, that the Sabbath is forever and is the sign that we are His people! When we turn down bacon or shellfish and get dirty looks and questions, it can be so difficult for us to understand how those we love can’t see things the way we do. It is so easy for us to say, “How can you not see what the scriptures plainly teach?” In this part of our walk it is important to remember two main things. The first is that it wasn’t very long ago that you and I didn’t see things the way we do now either. The second is that we would’ve likely carried on in our ways had God Himself not disturbed our shalom and opened our eyes to His instructions.
As we begin to parse out what Avinu (our Father) is showing us, there often comes a time of isolation. I, personally, believe this is a God-ordained time where we are to be alone with Avinu where we can study and pray intently without outside voices and opinions. It is a time for us to learn to stand on our own two feet, to begin to learn, possibly for the first time in our lives, what we believe. I have heard this time called “sponge mode”. I like that because I think it really speaks to what this season is all about. It is usually here when we really begin to get a grasp of the sabbath, feasts, and dietary instructions laid out in the Torah. It is a wonderfully exciting time as we focus whole-heartedly on getting our feet under us and fall in love with God in a way many of us have never experienced.
For the vast majority, this time of isolation begins to come to a close and we become hungry once again for fellowship. Here in lies a huge challenge. Many of us find that we are truly the only ones in our communities who have begun to follow Messiah Yeshua in living out Torah. Finding a fellowship of like-minded believers can be very difficult. This is a complex and unique challenge. You see, most of us are Gentiles and because of anti-semitism and dispensational theology from the church at large, who believe that “the law has been done away with”, we feel we have no common fellowship there.  This can be, but may not always be the case. Many may feel now more closely tied to a Jewish or Messianic lifestyle but sadly, many are not welcomed in these circles (where the Torah has been lived for centuries) because “the Torah is only for the Jewish people”. Many turn to the internet where there are a host of “cyber fellowships” and teachers that are easily accessible. While I am thankful for the aid that technology has given the Torah movement, we still need a physical connection to each other. Hugs, handshakes, smiles, and laughter are necessary. Relationship and community is vital to our well-being and maturity as the children of God. As I said (and as many of you know personally), this is a very complex challenge and the effects of trying to find who we are and where we fit can be devastating.
So how do we navigate these troubles waters? How do we stay healthy and balanced as we find our place in this new understanding? In the next several blog posts, we are going to look into the scriptures and see what both the Tanahk (Old Testament) and the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) have to say about who we are and where we fit in the grand scheme of the Kingdom.
If you would like to follow either the audio or video teaching series “Identity”, follow here.