I was raised as one of the fortunate few in the 60’s and 70’s. Not that my parents had great jobs with a large income, but that they had a strong belief in the ideas of living righteously and having integrity. The Pentecostal Church we attended expected that its people would “live right” and, to some degree, they enforced that ideal. My childhood friends and classmates seemed to live a completely different lifestyle, being exposed to ordinary things like beach vacations, going to carnivals and amusement parks, movies on the weekends, and Dads who drank beer. All of these things were seen as “worldly” and probably sinful, so we didn’t take part and, to be honest, look down on those who did. So how is all of this “fortunate”?
What my family believed to be true according to the Scriptures is exactly what they lived out on a daily basis. The people that Mom and Dad were on Sunday morning were the same people that fed me breakfast on Monday. There was/is nothing phony about them. With all the cultural shift that took place in that era of time, with morals being challenged and relaxed, and with the loss of values, our home remained much the same.
This ideal of living out what you believe and know to be Truth has been more of a challenge than expected in my adult years. In December, 2000, I prayed a prayer that would expose truth to me in a life altering way, forever changing my understanding of what I should believe. I prayed, “Jesus, show me who You are. I’m not asking for You to give me another spiritual experience, but I want to know what You see when You see me, when You see the church, when You see this country and when You see Israel. Show me what Your eyes see, from Your perspective.” In January 2001, about 1 month later, my wife and I are flying to Israel on a very unexpected trip and an encounter that would rock my world.
While walking down Ben Yehudah street in Jerusalem, I had a sudden realization. The One I called Messiah and Savior was Jewish. I knew that He was a Jew by birth, but I had failed to connect Him with being Jewish by culture, language, and perspective. I remember looking a the merchants and the people on the street and realizing that He was like them and what was disturbing is that I then understood that He was not like me. He is not an American, with a Greek Western world view, but He sees things with an Hebraic mindset. He was answering my prayer. The problem I now had concerned what I had always believed to be true. My belief system was based on my world view and resulting bias concerning the Scriptures. I now could see that all the writers of the texts, except possibly Luke, were of this Hebraic mindset. So to be best understood in the intentions of their words, I needed to see them from their perspective. There and then, on a street in Jerusalem, my Messiah took my western focus away and gave me a Hebrew sight in its place. The pattern of integrity and living what you know to be true that I gained from my parents now required me to make choices that even they could not understand. My journey had just begun.