I grew up in a strong God-believing family and was constantly surrounded by people who believed in the same God and lived fairly similar lifestyles.
This gave me ample opportunity to grow in my faith and, despite what differences I may have had with my peers and their families, we were all united as a community of believers in the One God and his Son. Our belief in Yeshua gave us common ground and purpose. However, in the last three years, I have had to deal with my faith in more hostile settings. My first job after high-school was the first major encounter I had with this new dimension of life.
As a Messianic Gentile practicing a very traditional form of Messianic Judaism, I felt the need to express my beliefs in very simple terms to my employer. I simply stated that I couldn’t work on Saturdays, giving no reason other than it was a personal one. As an employee in retail, you can imagine that this was seen as a little unusual. However, once I built up the courage to explain that this was for religious reasons, I gained more respect than I expected. I have experienced the same thing since starting college. When I was straight-forward and kind to my peers and professors, I found that they respected my choices and learned to work around and with my practice of Messianic Judaism.
The interaction between my work and religious life was difficult for me. I was constantly asking myself what I should be doing and why. Is asking for the Jewish holidays off in addition to Shabbat reasonable? Do I really have to explain that it is actually from sundown to sundown instead of the day? All of us in Messianic Judaism, Jew and Gentile, have to struggle with these issues to some extent. Even though the trajectory is in the same general direction for all of us, it often takes its form in different ways. For example, my siblings express their beliefs in slightly different ways than I do, but we still understand each other and get along. We all recognize that there is room for variation in daily life for both Messianic Jews and Gentiles.
For Messianic Gentiles, it can often feel very awkward to be practicing a Jewish religion. I felt as though I was sometimes infringing on private property or trying to draw myself into a picture in which I’m not supposed to be. But this way of thinking, while it does have good reasoning behind it, is the wrong way to look at our place in Messianic Judaism.
Messianic Gentiles, you have a heritage in this faith. Remember the individuals of Adam, Noah - all the way through Abraham. They are your examples. You have Jethro who was an adviser to Moses, the righteous Gentiles of the Tanach (Old Testament) living among the Jewish people, and the first-century Gentile believers to encourage you in your walk. Additionally, the prophecies of the kingdom foretell of a time when both Jew and Gentile will live under the rule of a Jewish King, the Messiah, and thus live under Jewish rule.
This faith for both Gentiles and Jews is not easy. They both their challenges. Regardless of the doubts and obstacles that come your way, remember that you, as a Gentile, have an important place and claim in this faith. Your Gentile heritage in Messianic Judaism is not something to be ashamed of or to hide. Instead, be proud of your faith and historical heritage. Be proud to be a Messianic Gentile.