The Common Values Between Christians and Jews
Jews and Christians share many of the same ethical and social values and both love the Word of God, which creates a unity that is a source of blessing. A few values unique to the Judeo-Christian faith includes loving one’s neighbor, giving to the poor, tithing, a universal responsibility for humanity, the value of historical continuity, preservation of life and praying to God for divine assistance. There is a clear difference between Christians and Jews but gaining understanding of what we both share in common helps give us both gain a fresh and strong perspective to build unity in a broken and dying world.
Love your neighbor is a commandment given to both Christians and Jews. The Ten Commandments states its importance as do many other places in the Bible. The most important passage for Jews in the Torah is Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” This was a direct commandment from the Lord, and one that is taken very serious by all Jews. The New Testament is filled with verses referring to love and loving your neighbor. In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus directly answers one of his disciples who asked a question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament and bringing to life the power of love.
To love your neighbor is THE second most important commandment. To love your neighbor is to care for those around you, to be positive, to not judge and to help when you can, especially if you see your neighbor struggling. It simply means to genuinely do good to those around from a pure heart. It is a call from the heart of God to love a person regardless of their belief or actions. As easy as it sounds, to love is one of life’s most difficult demands for mankind. To love the other person or nation, regardless of how they think or what they believe in and even sometimes how they treat you is the struggle in life we all face. The importance of this commandment is clear, but how can we live it out? Would not our faith and love grow stronger if we were to look at what unites us rather than what divides us?
Tithing and caring for the poor is also an important commandment and biblical value that both Christians and Jews believe and work-to-practice in their everyday lives. It is known as “Gemilut Hasadim” which means giving kindness. Acts of kindness or “chesed” includes many different ways of helping those in need. In terms of monetary giving or “Tsedakah” many give about 10% of their earnings to the poor. It is a “mitzvah,” or a commandment to the Jews to give to the poor, as it states, “you will surely open your hand to your poor brother.” In like-kind Christians are commanded to give to the poor and pay tithes of 10%. The belief in tithing for Christians and Jews goes all the way back to Genesis when Abraham conquered the four kings and offered Melchizedek, the King of Righteousness, one tenth of the spoil.
Jews and Christians have another common practice and that is praying to God for divine assistance. Christians and Jews both believe that God can intervene and change circumstances. Both Jews and Christians pray to God for healing, relief from suffering, for food and shelter, for provisions and protection. There are many Biblical scriptures used in prayer by both Christians and Jews which unites them together on common ground through prayer. The one prayer both Jews and Christians pray is regarding Israel and Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah writes in chapter 41:11-12, “Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all.”
Israel, and it’s heart, Jerusalem, are believed to be the place where God’s presence dwells. The most important city in the world for God, Jews, Christians and for thousands of years has been in the center of history. When Christians join together with Jews in united prayer to God and lift Israel and the Jewish people and both are praying for the peace of Jerusalem, God will prevail. The divine way for Christians and Jews to stand in unity with Israel and the Jewish people is through prayer. There are no barriers when we stand united praying for Israel’s protection, praying for its people and praying for the peace of Jerusalem.
Christians and Jews in more ways than not share common values, and common beliefs. Understanding each other leaves room to do good in this world by our commitment to take action to make a difference. Praying for each other and our neighbors, showing God-like attitudes and loving others is required of Christians and Jews by God. As is praying for the peace of Jerusalem which is our divine link that connects us both Jew and Christian to God’s blessing.
Together, Christians and Jews can help each other and make a difference by loving, giving and praying. May the year 2014 be a year of good as we commit to working together to bring unity to the world around us.