50 Weeks Past the Cross – Hold Torah Tightly!
By Terrie C
Today marks my 50th week since walking past the cross and I have a great post for week 49 still unfinished in my documents. Last week, I began looking at forgiveness through this new lens. Like everything else, there are different concepts to consider after removing the writings that call themselves the “new testament” from my reference reading. As soon as I typed the first sentence last week, I started seeing the subject everywhere! I love when HaShem does that, don’t you? I pulled the piece out today to get it finished and uploaded, but didn’t feel the sense of “release” I always feel before I hit that “post” button. The past 11 years of walking with God have taught me to not post without that release. Apparently, I have more to learn about forgiveness before I share!
Fortunately, I had a (very) rare case of insomnia last night, and collected some thoughts in the three o’clock hour. I sat on the back porch admiring the gorgeous moon and was lulled by the sound of a quiet, steady rain. Without the distractions that come in the day, I was able to let my mind wander through all the changes in my life since I stopped giving Yeshua (Jesus) credit that only belongs to YHVH. There are some things that have really surprised me “over here” on this side of the cross! And so, these “surprises” are what we’ll have a look at today. If the cross is still visible in your rearview mirror, I hope that this post will give you the opportunity to be prepared, should you encounter these surprises in your own journey, so that they will present less of a struggle for you than they did me.
Surprise Number One: Personal Relationships
I expected to lose many Christian and Messianic Christian friends, and I did. It’s been interesting, though, to see who stayed and who left my life. My advice to you would be to handle your relationships very carefully and prayerfully! Avoid sharing what you’re learning in the beginning. Keep your explanation for your decision to walk past the cross simple and short. For example: “I have studied it out in Scripture, and come to a place where I can’t credit anyone but God for being God.” Your friends are going to have excellent questions and excellent arguments. The first couple of months past the cross are NOT the time to address them! There is so much more to this than leaving Yeshua behind you! Try your best to keep shalom in the relationship, even if they are angry at you and show their ugly side. Yes, that will happen with some. Let them walk away if they must and do nothing to burn the bridge they crossed. Should they have questions of their own one day, if you left the relationship with grace, mercy, shalom and dignity, it may just be YOU they bring their questions to!
Surprise Number Two: Lottsa Different Doctrine!
If you think you are only walking away from Yeshua and that everything else will be the same, better grab hold of something secure… you’re in for a thrill ride! Make that something the Torah! Use it as your plumbline. Torah is the part of Scripture that houses God’s “mission statements”. It is our instruction manual to navigate this world while we yet wear coats of human flesh. Here on this side of the cross, you won’t find the concept of original sin. You won’t find “your authority” to heal, to “name it and claim it” or to have your every desire fulfilled just by asking for it in someone’s name. You won’t find the concept of being saved by the blood of a man, or of having a mediator for your willful sin. There is no forgiveness, in fact, for willful sin except repentance and atonement. Here, you’ll find a whole new meaning to the ritualistic sacrifices in the Temple! Hell and satan look different here, and salvation is a physical event, not a spiritual one. Christianity taught us to view the Tanakh (Old Testament) through the lens of Yeshua and the writings that didn’t even appear until long after his death. Over here, you’re gonna need a new lens! It will take time to remove him from all the places we’ve stuck him where he doesn’t belong! That’s okay, give yourself time. The further away you get from that cross, the more the beauty of God’s story will shine through for you (and make sense)!
Surprise Number Three: Jewish or Jew-ish?
A year ago, I though Jewish and Christian were my only two choices as a child of The Almighty! In fact, when I came out of Christianity, I told those with whom I was closest that I would be converting to Judaism. As I continued along the path, though, I learned that those aren’t my only two choices. From the beginning, there have been those who’ve stood with the Jews without necessarily converting to Judaism. Even in Zechariah’s prophecy for the times to come, we’re told that many will take hold of a Jew to learn about God, because He is with them. Notice how it doesn’t say they will all convert to Judaism? (Reference, Zechariah 8:23) I know people who have converted after leaving the cross. They tell me it was something put on their heart so heavily, they felt compelled to absorb all things Jewish. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as you are following a prompting from our Creator, and not just looking for a community to fit into. Here in the middle, the feeling of not fitting anywhere can be overwhelming. Ignore it. Fit into God, and trust Him with the rest! I can’t say that God won’t steer me into a conversion to Judaism one day, but I am positive that He isn’t right now. And that’s okay! Scripture has a lot to say about the “stranger in the gate”. We have always been right there, next to the Jewish folk.
Surprise Number Four: “Dehumanizing” God
It was easy to make God into an old man with a long white beard and a staff in His hand, wasn’t it? After all, it’s a figure we can relate to, and easy for children to color in Sunday School. On this side of the cross, though, we are forced to recognize all the Scriptures that tell us He ISN’T a man, and has no form. Here, when we get glimpses of Him, He is within a fire, or is speaking from within a cloud. He is obscured because there is no form to see! He was perfectly able to dwell among men, but He didn’t do it as a man. He created a space to meet with men, but still they only heard a voice. I used to envision Him when I prayed to look like that old man I described a few sentences ago. Now I have come to realize that anywhere I am, I am actually standing within Him! Now I turn my palms up and stretch out my arms. His sun is warming my face, His “breath” is caressing my skin with a breeze, He is everywhere around me! I missed many aspects of His enormity when I had him crammed into a six foot frame for me to relate to. He is so much bigger than I ever gave Him credit for! Here on this side of the cross, it’s easy to see that nothing is about us, and everything is about Him! Christianity had that reversed. They made everything about us. Our “eternal salvation”, our blessing, our authority… us, us US! Truth is, when we place God in proper perspective, we don’t need to worry a bit about the “everafter”! His Torah is for this life. For right now, today. When we are obedient, repentive and doing good for others, He’s got our back for all time to come.
Surprise Number Five: Many Doors
My favorite poet, Kahlil Gibran, said “God made truth with many doors to welcome every believer who knocks on them.” Although I used to disregard that statement while still enjoying his poetry, I can now see the truth in it. It was man who accredited God with the the “one door” policy. It is another great example of how much we shrank an omnipotent God to fit Him into our capacity of understanding! As a Christian, it was easy for me to deem others hell-bound because they didn’t believe how I believed. Oh, I was too “good” to do it outloud, but I sure did a lot of doing it in my head! If people weren’t Christian, I kept them at arm’s length. For ten years, I listened to no music that wasn’t Christian. Ditto for books I read and movies I watched. I considered no man wise unless he thoroughly understood the concept of John 3:16. In my opinion then, anyone who hadn’t accepted Yeshua as their Savior was doomed for eternity. I’ll admit something, will you be honest and do the same? I thought I was better than them! (Forgive me YHVH!) Now, I glean wisdom and enjoyment from many different sources! If something isn’t in violation of Torah, then it is worthy of my consideration. Not as doctrine, but as wisdom. Never again will I assume I know another man’s fate upon his death, or even how The Almighty will deal with him in life. The only thing I know for sure is that God despises evil, and will have wrath for those that practice it. But again, I will leave that between Him and them. My thoughts and opinions aren’t necessary in the relationship others have (or don’t have) with God. My own covenant with Him is my concern.
Without question, walking away from the cross is going to deliver one huge answer: GOD IS ONE. But take it from me, friend, it’s also going to generate many, many questions! Reach out to others who’ve been where you are today. I’d be more than happy to receive a message from you at firstname.lastname@example.org, as would the administrators of this site at Center for Tanakh Based Studies. There are also countless groups and pages on Facebook that can be valuable resources for you! If you’d like, here’s a group that you can go and try today, #NoNeedForJesus! It’s true that you’re going to lose many friends because of your decision to walk past the cross, but you can trust that God is going to send you some new ones. That’s how He rolls!
“See” you next time 🙂 ~Terrie C