Saturday, October 04, 2014

Why I Left the Messianic Movement

This is a post that is very difficult to write. First of all, I never anticipated that I would write such an entry. Second, it took me a long while to be able to collect my thoughts in a coherent way without airing "dirty laundry" so to speak. Finally, because of the stigma that surrounds Messianic Jews, I had doubts about "outing" myself like this. Although with regards to concerns of the latter, there is enough I have written here and posted elsewhere online that a good Internet search about me could probably reveal much.

In my late 20s, I became involved with a Messianic church. I am not going to get into the details as to why I was led in this particular direction, other than to say that that is where I was in my life at the time. This church ended up splitting over a dispute concerning the employment of the pastor. I ended up going with the group that split, and formed another Messianic congregation in 2003. I attended there regularly for a little over five years. During that time I was on the board as the secretary, and was a Deacon doing everything from leading worship to giving sermons to sweeping between the pews. I led services when the pastor was absent. I got used to performing music in front of an audience. My knowledge of the Bible and my musical abilities grew, as did my leadership skills. Overall, it was a very positive experience which I look back on fondly, and do not regret.

When I began getting involved in the local social justice movement I found myself attending less and less. A main reason for this was because activist events are often held on Saturdays. But I began seeing political connections in the church that no longer aligned with my beliefs. There is a huge emphasis on Israel as a nation. Without getting too theological here, I believe there is a difference between Eretz Yisroel as discussed in the Torah, and the modern political state of Israel. I also believe in the separation of church and state.

I would have a problem with conservative congregations in general because of the "Israel, right or wrong" stance, as well as the interference in people's personal lives. Especially in a small congregation, there are no secrets. And in a large congregation, there is no accountability. As well, I have found that churches seem to be magnets for troubled people, especially in the Messianic movement. And for a compassionate person who can often have boundary issues, this can be dangerous.

So, in some ways, I am saying that I am walking away from organized religion in general. I am not going to get into the specifics of my personal religious beliefs, because I think those are personal. That being said, a formal congregation does not interest me. I find my faith in nature, in social justice, in my love of others, in the creation of music, and in the many things that happen every day which astound and surprise me and help me grow.

I still stand behind many of the things I have written about in the past. I don't think there is anything inherently wrong with a Jewish person believing that Jesus is the Messiah. I strongly disagree with Israel persecuting Messianic Jews. I believe people have the right to believe whatever they want as long as they are not harming others. And no one has the right to tell someone they are wrong or belittle them or exclude them because of those beliefs.

Sometimes as we grow as people, where we are spiritually changes. Following a different path does not make us correct or make our former community wrong. It just means we are moving in different directions. Like I said at the beginning, I have no regrets, and I am not making any apologies for my choices. It is, however, a chapter of my life that has closed. I am looking forward to where my spirituality will take me next.

1 comment:

Breezy Brian Gregg said...

admire your wishes to be free and right and that you care