This was the question that the World Jewish Digest asked this past high holiday season in light of a 2006 Harris Poll “showing that just 30 percent of Jews in a nationwide survey said they were ‘absolutely certain’ there was a God.”1 According the issue’s cover story, 76% of Protestants, 64% of Catholics, and 93% of “Protestant Evangelicals… will tell you they are absolutely certain there is a God. It simply begged the question: why don’t Jews believe in God?”
Why should we? After all, we Jews are some of the most self-reliant, independent, stubborn people who ever walked the face of the earth. Who needs God when you can take care of yourself? Surely, we can take credit for the success we have had assimilating into the nations of the world. We have every right to say, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” (Deuteronomy 8:16)
As a people, we don’t believe in God because we think we don’t need to. Though deep down, every Jew knows that he is different and unique–that the God of Israel made him that way, therefore making him a stranger among the nations–we nevertheless make every effort to pass ourselves off as your (above-)average, run-of-the-mill Caucasian. We don’t need to believe in God if we’re just going to be white Americans. We don’t need to believe in God if we’re just capitalists and consumers. We don’t need to believe in God if our goal is to be as discreet as possible among the nations while we collectively and noticeably prosper above the average citizen of the melting pot.
And yet, when challenged about our supposed disbelief in God, especially the most dedicated atheists become militant in their deity-directed fist shaking. While we deny God with our words and lifestyles, our hearts know full well that the unfaithfulness and abandonment is ours alone. We have turned our national back on God to pursue our own safety and prosperity. Our supposed disbelief is nothing more than self-delusion.
What, then, would the Harris Poll have shown if Messianic Jews had been asked about absolute certainty in God? Perhaps our rhetoric would have proclaimed our unwavering dedication to the God of Israel and her Messiah, but would our talk truly be reflected in our walk? Do our everyday life-goals differ significantly enough from our neighbors that our lives shout aloud of the sovereignty, faithfulness and salvation of our God? There is no reason to expect that the light we shine will be bright enough to affect the nations if it does not remind and convict our own Jewish people of our infidelity and un-Jewish ways.
Of all peoples worldwide, it must be ours as Jews that are characterized by absolute certainty in the power and love of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As Messianic Jews, therefore, let us be militant in our steadfastness and fidelity to God’s covenant with us, and lead the way for our people to come out from our assimilation and return to God.
Proverbs 30:7-9 “Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. 9 Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.”