A "One New Man" Parable
There once was a town that built a
large square park surrounded by restaurants from many nations. The town
required that each restaurant offer excellent quality food and a large
variety of menu items that were authentic or indigenous to an ethnic group
or country. Restaurants competed. Judges tasted foods and then voted on
who would get the contracts to be part of the Food Square. Many wonderful
cuisines were present: German, French, Spanish, Greek, Italian,
Argentinian, Brazilian, Mexican, Ethiopian, Morrocan, Chinese, Japanese,
Thai and others.
All the restaurant owners were in a cooperative association together.
Several times a year they held a magnificent outdoor food fair. Patrons
struggled to avoid gluttony. The fair gave citizens a taste of the various
flavors and menus. Competition was friendly. The restaurants prospered,
and the square was nicely kept up and maintained.
Then one day the town elected a new mayor. He was against competition -
quite a radical socialist. To him the competing restaurants system was not
equitable: While all the restaurants were covering their expenses, the
Chinese, Mexicans and Italians were clearly getting more customers than the
others. Therefore he decided that all of the restaurants would offer
varieties of foods from the different nations. Each of them would
become a fusion restaurant with the same menu. Of course, in a fusion
restaurant only a few of the foods from any given nation could be offered.
At first many applauded the change and thought it a fitting expression of
the town's unity. Others questioned the idea since now there would be
fewer culinary options. Eventually three quarters of the restaurants
closed since there was not sufficient variety to attract the clientele that
used to frequent the square. The empty shop spaces looked forlorn, and the
square started to take on a disheveled look.
The Parable Explained
This parable is a response to those Christians and Messianic Jews who
interpret Paul's "one new man" image (Ephesians 2:15) to mean local
congregations built around one expression for everyone. These expressions
tend to have a bit of Jewish, black, and Hispanic fare in the context of a
largely Western generic type of contemporary worship. Rarely do such "one
new man congregations" include traditional hymns or other expressions of
historic rooting and continuity. They do not include a depth of Jewish
worship expressions. They may include an occasional Messianic Jewish song,
Sh'ma, or celebration of Torah feasts moved to the nearest weekend,
such as a Passover Seder. The decrease in diversity is attributed to
Paul's instructions to "Imitate me, as I imitate Christ" (1
This is why my book, That They May be One, was originally named:
One People, Many Tribes. My thesis is that God loves variety
(Genesis 1) and desires many different congregational expressions, as
churches become indigenous to cultures. In addition, I believe God values
different styles which have developed over the centuries, and that their
preservation is worthwhile. Of course, this does not mean that no new
forms and styles can be added. Large churches can have very adequate
expressions of variety by fostering variously flavored gatherings. Indeed,
some do. There are now churches holding regular Messianic Jewish worship
services and encouraging their Jewish members to live a Jewish life. This
helps preserve a real quality of variety. I applaud these efforts. I also
applaud efforts where ethnic groups develop their own special sounds and
ways of worship and do not just translate Western generic contemporary
worship songs. I recently savored uniquely Korean worship songs while
visiting that nation.
I should note that Messianic Jewish Congregations also have Gentile members
who are called to Jewish ministry and who therefore, within the
congregation, demonstrate the unity of Jew and Gentile, Israel and the
Those who teach a fusion type of "one new man church" do not realize that
this undercuts the distinct life and calling of Jewish disciples of Yeshua.
Our efforts for over 42 years have been to call Jewish people to identify
and live as part of their people, and to embrace the good things in the
Jewish heritage while refusing the bad. This requires focus, study and
some depth. It also requires placing all in the context of the centrality
of Yeshua. Distinct Messianic Jewish expressions and social reinforcement
among Jewish believers are crucial.
The distinction of Israel and the nations shows that God enjoys variety in
His Church and affirms ethnic expressions of faith. My vision of "one new
man" joins Jews and representatives of the Nations in various types of
fellowship venues. It includes Messianic Jewish Congregations who join in
Church of the City celebrations. It includes fellowships of pastors from a
variety of backgrounds who join in regular prayer, and more. The common
joint gatherings are like the periodic food fairs in the park described in
the parable above. Because expressions maintain their distinctions with
some depth, we can all visit, study and learn from a variety that will
never be boring. Something of different expressions can be shared in
occasional joint gatherings. These gatherings are by necessity "fusion
meetings", but of a kind that preserves individual expressions side by
side. We have had black choirs, Messianic Jewish dance, and traditional
communion all in one joint gathering!
"One new man" should be understood as more like the distinction in unity of
men and women who become one flesh in marriage (Genesis 2:24). The very
distinction in unity is what makes the marriage wonderful. So it is with
the churches: one people, many tribes!
I encourage you to get a copy of my short primer of Church history,
That They May be One (available in electronic and print format
on Amazon). We offer a free copy to all who promise to review it on
Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Also for an excellent book with
chapters by several Messianic Jewish and Christian authors, I
recommend Awakening the One New Man edited by Robert Wolf.
This book gets it right.
Tikkun International was founded with the vision and purpose of sending
emissaries from the USA out to Israel and the nations. That reality has
gradually changed and now we are sending primarily from Israel, with most
of our governing leaders living in Israel. To reflect this, Tikkun
International will now be based in Israel and Asher Intrater has been
chosen as its new president. The administrative office of the 501(c)3
corporation remains in Maryland and will continue to serve the Israeli
As part of this transition, Daniel and Patricia Juster's teaching and
mentoring ministry is being renamed "Restoration from Zion". Daniel
will also continue to oversee the American Network of congregations and the
Tikkun U.S. legal organization.
To donate directly to the Juster's ministry, please indicate that the
gift is for "Restoration from Zion" (the U.S. office will continue
to process donations as before).