What Christians Can Learn from Jews
by: Seun Addie
A few years ago, I came across a video clip of Nethanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, reeling out the inventions of Israeli scientists, from extracting water from air, to breakthroughs in cancer research, and so on; and I was angry! Angry not because of the inventions, nor because they came from Israel, but because the Church has failed humanity, especially in Africa.
Israel, as a people, is practicing the old covenant, Judaism. Yet, with the old covenant, they have been able to do so much, not just for themselves, but for humanity at large. Behind most ICT breakthroughs are Israelis. There is no player worth its salt in ICT that does not have a R&D facility in Israel.
In every situation, the new is always better than the old. For example, the new model of a car not only has all the capabilities of the old, but much more. And such is the case of old and new things. The coming of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice brought the New Covenant into force, making the old one, held on to by the Jews, obsolete.
Thus, since the new is always better than the old, it suffices to say that the new covenant is better than the old covenant, meaning that the accomplishments of the new out shines that of old. This position is well substantiated by the Bible. But, we have an irony on our hands; the Church, the beneficiary of the new covenant, is out performed by Israel, the beneficiary of the old covenant! The output of Israel in every facet of human endeavor cannot be denied. Yet, all she has is the old covenant, the obsolete covenant. Whereas, the Church that has the new covenant is looking up to Israel. What an anomaly? Something is definitely wrong with the understanding of the Church, especially in Africa.
Without much ado, it is obvious that the difference between the two groups is that, while one has learned to operationalize her covenant, the other has relegated hers to mere religion. Although Israel observes the teachings of Judaism, she has taken Judaism beyond the realm of religion. The covenant of God with Abraham is all that defines her. She believes every bit of the pronouncement of the covenant, and she is putting it to work in every area of her life. Her people do not just see it as their religion, but who they are, what they are. It is ingrained in their consciousness that they have a covenant with Jehovah, which guarantees their success.
Thus, the scientist goes to work, conscious of the fact that the God of Abraham will give him a breakthrough in his effort to find a solution to a problem. For example, that God told Abraham that Canaan is a land flowing with milk and honey was the basis of the researches that led to Israel’s breakthrough in the field of agriculture. Though located in the desert, she was able to turn the barren land into fruitful fields, feeding her people, and exporting food to the world. With the same knowledge, she has succeeded in growing her forest annually, while deforestation is threatening even the rain forest.
I would not bother to talk about her exploits in military and defense issues, since singing her praise is not my aim. My goal is to challenge the Church, especially in Africa, to take the New Covenant beyond religion. Instead of envying Israel, she too should operationalize her covenant, the better covenant, so that she delivers to the world what the blood of Jesus bought for her, and, by extension, humanity.
Instead of putting huge amounts of money into buildings, she should put money into research and development (R&D), knowing that the governments on the continent are not inclined towards developing the land and her people. She should see herself as truly the light of the world and the salt of the earth, as Jesus declared. Instead of buying up arable land to build camp grounds that are seldom used, she should harness the abundant research findings in the field of agric., lying dormant on dusty shelves in libraries across the country, to float farm, directly or indirectly. Oyedepo is currently doing that in Omuaran, though it can be bigger and better managed.
I find it amazing that when Israel came back from exile to Canaan, and the Temple of Solomon was to be rebuilt, with all the interest that Jehovah showed in the project, not a cubit was added to the dimensions of the building. God did not require an extension of the structure, with the implication that the size of the building was not an issue to Him.
For the Church in Africa, instead of the unending building projects that have become our preoccupation, we need to redirect funds into ventures that will truly liberate the people of the continent. From the experiences of the last few decades, a bigger Church building does not really serve humanity better. We have bigger structures, but the people are still hungry, the youths are still unemployed. There was never a time in history that the Church in Africa had as much as she currently holds. She has the opportunity to set things right on the continent. She has the human and financial resources to get Africa off her kneels. But, will she do it?
As expected, some might not agree with my drift, saying, “…that is not the duty of the Church!” But, the evidences in the Bible are too much to the contrary. First, light has no boundary. So, everything, as it were, is the duty of the Church. Second, salt has no limit. Except not included in a pot of cooking, there is no limit to the influence (effect) of salt. Third, the government is to be upon the shoulder of Emmanuel. Where are His shoulders but in the Church?
Instead of looking elsewhere, it is time the Church in Africa looked inwards and took responsibility for the continent. The same Protestantism that was the foundation of Modern Europe and America has been here for over a century. What have we to show for it? It is time for the Church in Africa to go beyond the giving of handouts to the people. She is the messiah of the continent, she should wake up to her responsibility. She should go beyond establishing schools and hospitals, and float financial institutions, R&D facilities, etc. It is time she transformed Africa!