That was the response of many American Jews to the news that former President George Bush would be offering the keynote at a major fundraising event for the Messianic Bible Institute, an evangelical group that targets Jews for conversion.
"How could he do such a thing?" a minyan of my Facebook friends and assorted colleagues wailed. It's quite easy, actually. George W. Bush is an evangelical Christian, and that's what they do. They bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ and seek the conversion of the world to the gospel.
Having heard this news, I jumped into action. I have always had a secret (OK, now it’s out of the bag) desire to be a presidential (or even an ex-presidential) speechwriter, and it occurred to me that this might be the sort of occasion for which George Bush might need one. I could write a speech for him to deliver to the Messianic Bible Institute!
I sat down and wrote the speech, and then I faxed it to him. I don't know. I think something is wrong with fax machines in Texas, because for some reason, I have not received any confirmation that he got it. Or, maybe he is too busy. He could at least have had one of his assistants get back to me.
But I have faith that these will be the words that come out of his mouth.
It is good to be here with you at the Messianic Bible Institute. I salute the work that you do in bringing the good news of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the world. I say that with overwhelming confidence, because I have felt the power of Jesus Christ working in my own life.
Having said that, I am afraid that I am about to disappoint all of you good people. I know that this means that I'm probably going to have to return my fee, which will disappoint a lot of people as well -- mostly my wife, Laura.
I believe that we are in error in trying to convert Jews to Christianity.
Let me tell you why.
A Jewish friend of mine just gave me a huge document to read called the Pew Report. I expected it to be an analysis of who is sitting in church on any given Sunday morning. But I was wrong.
No, the Pew Report is a report on the state of American Jews and American Judaism.
I read enough to know that we are wasting our time in trying to get the Jews to believe in Jesus. And why is that? Well, my friends, you don't have to be Maimonides to know that the Jews already have a pile of things that they could believe in, and they are not exactly doing a great job of doing that.
So why would they start by believing in Jesus? It’s not a good investment of our time.
You see, my friends, before I found Jesus Christ, I was a pagan. I was living the unyoked life. And for anyone who is living the unyoked life, a life devoid of covenant and relationship with God, yes, Jesus Christ is the best way to get there.
But, my friends, the Jews – as a people -- already have a relationship with God. I mean, directly. Mano el mano, to coin a phrase.
And their connection with God, whether they know it or not, is still very strong.
Since we are talking about strong connections -- how many of you are still on America Online?
Here's what we can learn from America Online.
Nowadays, if you download the latest version of AOL onto your computer, it wipes out all the earlier versions.
But, back in the old days, when you had AOL on your desktop, and you downloaded the newer version, the two versions of AOL sat next to each other. No big deal.
Now, follow my logic. The covenant that God made with the Jews at Sinai – that’s like Covenant 1.0.
The covenant that God made on Calvary through the blood of Jesus Christ is like Covenant 2.0.
Some of us think that the new covenant wiped out that older covenant.
I would like to invite you to believe something else. Imagine that Covenant 1.0 – the one at Sinai – and Covenant 2.0 – the one at Calvary – both sit on God’s desktop. God's spiritual desktop is bigger than anyone can imagine. And both of those covenants are still valid for those who believe in them.
Not only that: We all love the state of Israel. God gave that precious land to the Jews, because the Jews are God’s first love and they are the apple of His eye.
Do you know why we care about Israel? It’s not because all the Jews have to be back there before Jesus comes back. That's not it at all.
It's straight out of the book of Genesis, chapter 12. Get out your Bibles. “Those that bless you, I will bless, and those that curse you, I will curse.” We evangelical Christians are pro-Israel! Ans And that means that we must be pro-Jewish. And we must be pro-Jewish because we want God to be pro-us. We want that blessing!
To want all Jews to convert to Christianity is to be anti-Semitic, because it would mean that we want the Jews, as Jews, to disappear.
And, my friends, if you are anti-Semitic, then you can kiss that Genesis blessing goodbye, and get ready for the heaping pile of curses that you are going to get. Don't say I didn't warn you.
One last thing. My Jewish friends have invited me to their Sabbath dinners, and they’re beautiful. Their Passover seders are meaningful. The food is great, but the story is even better. That’s the root of our love of freedom, right there. I’ve even been to one or two bar mitzvah ceremonies. The Torah scroll, the Hebrew. Beautiful. Moving.
If all the Jews converted to Christianity, then Judaism would disappear.
And I, my friends, am not ready to let that happen.
Because I cannot believe that a loving God, Who made an eternal covenant with His people, could ever want that to happen.
So, why are we here?
I mean, really.
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