Yesterday, I was looking for some materials I needed and ran across the first article I ever had published in a national magazine. Thought It might encourage a few people. The article appeared in the August 1988 edition of the award winning Worldwide Challenge Magazine. But the incident at the center of the story goes back to my first year as a Christian in 1974. (I know, I’m older than dirt!)
“Give Me Wise Words”
WorldWide Challenge Magazine, August 1988
I became a Christian in the second semester of my freshman year of college. The next year I enrolled in a class titled “History of Jewish Thought.”
The clsass was taught by a Jewish rabbi who knew that his classroom contained both Gentiles and Jews. As an ice-breaker, the day he stood before our class for the first time, he asked each student about his or her background.
His next question was a bit more intriguing.
He asked each of us to define what a “Jew” is. Is a person a Jew because his mother is Jewish, his father is Jewish, he goes to a synagogue or temple, eats kosher, speaks Hebrew, celebrates Hanukkah or some combination of these?
When the professor finally posed the question to me, I was sweating, anxious and filled with fear. I sensed God wanted me to talk about my faith, and I had never done that in the classroom before.
My answer: “Brought up in a nominally Christian family, I was taught that a Jew was one of God’s chosen people.”
The professor turned and, with appropriate abbreviations, wrote what I said on the blackboard. Then he turned and addressed me again. “Could you elaborate on what that means?”
I turned and addressed God again. With my brief prayer finished, I nervously attempted to compy with his request: “Chosen by God to be the people through whom He would reveal His will for the entire world.”
“Chosen by God to be the people through whom He would reveal His will to the entire world.”
The professor again returned to the blackboard and again wrote down what I had said. Then he turned and directed another question back to me. “By that definition, what is it better to be, a Jew or a Christian?”
“I would say it is better to have accepted the Jewish Messiah as your personal Savior and Lord.”
“Ahh . . . ahh . . . I don’t know how to deal with that right now,” he replied. He turned once more, placed three question marks on the blackboard and directed the next question to another student.
That conversation is more than 13 years old, [older now] but I remember it like it was yesterday and for a number of reasons.
I felt like God had answered my prayers.
I learned that I did not have to fear others when I stood for Jesus.
I was able to verbalize, after praying, an aspect of revelation that I had never quite conceptualized before: The Jews were “chosen by God to be the people through whom He would reveal His will to the entire world.”
God has always been a missionary-God. He has been in the past and is today on a mission to redeem man and bring him into a right relationship with Himself. The message of history and the message I gave to my Jewish professor is that God has accomplished His plan.
Jesus really is the promised blessing. He really is the Messiah of Israel and the world. And it really IS better to have accepted the Jewish Messiah as your personal Savior and Lord.
One thought on ““God Give Me Wise Words””
Thank you, brother, for sharing this with the rest of us. It is an encouraging story on several levels. The precise definition of a Jew, the absolutely nailed statement of the relative value of Jew vs. Christian and the lesson. Reliance upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit does not depend on our audience but on us to seek His leading in all circumstances.
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