Recently I was privileged to represent the Pentecostal community as general superintendent of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada, and to a degree, the broader Christian community, at an international summit in Jerusalem. Along with my colleague, Dr. Wayne Hilsden, we presented on “The Importance of Christian-Jewish relations.”
An article on that topic itself would certainly be worthwhile, but this opportunity caused me to consider the broader concept of representation, which is a function I regularly fulfil for Pentecostal and Christian communities. In providing representation, how I relate to the “other” is rooted in how we identify ourselves. In these contexts, one needs clarity on who we are—who am I representing?
Whether Pentecostal or Christian, it’s not about presenting a fixed or set “franchise” model of identity. Perhaps you’ve noted, as I have, that not all Pentecostals or Christians look at nor think about things the same! Instead, it’s about knowing what is at the centre of who we are, the “main things,” and representing them well across very diverse contexts.
For instance, when it comes to Jewish-Christian relations, we have at the core powerful beliefs that should lead to deep respect and relationship:
- We believe Adonai created women and men in the divine image to be in relationship together with our Creator. We are not controlled robots but free, moral beings with the ability to choose love, have faith, and live with purpose.
- The pillars of the Almighty’s throne are righteousness and justice.
- Together we are called to right relationship with God: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
- And we are called to a just, loving relationship with one another. The Great Requirement makes that clear: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Justice, kindness and humility; Christians know that love for God demands that we love our neighbour as ourselves as Yeshua taught and demonstrated.
Many within the Jewish community, and we, in the Pentecostal/Christian body, share the same righteous, just Creator who made us for loving relationship with Adonai and one another. Together we can do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with the Almighty and one another. These are the main things the world must see in our relationship together as we positively model “the right” while resisting together the voices and actions of those who do not share these “main things.” It is, for instance, why The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada rejects anti-Semitism and all forms of biased actions against the Jewish people.
In representing the Christian community to others, whether to individuals or other faith communities, each follower of Jesus is also accountable to what the Scriptures clearly state as our responsibility of representation.
“And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
Critically at the centre of any faith conversation is the calling of reconciliation. We are ambassadors of Jesus, with God making His appeal through us. We do not jettison core truths related to Jesus as the One and Only Son of God and Saviour of humanity. Our confidence must be that we can represent the Good News of Jesus well in contexts where our commonalities with others are celebrated while the unique person and work of Jesus is shared with clarity and integrity.
Gracious Lord, we recognize the great love You have for each of our neighbours. You have created them in Your image and eternity is in their hearts. With respectful relationship and the sharing of gracious truth, allow us to be instrumental in the ministry of reconciliation You have called each of us to. For Your glory, Amen.
1. Psalm 89:14
2. Deuteronomy 6:4-5
3. Micah 6:8, ESV
4. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, NLT