It is a modern-day miracle that Jewish identity persisted even after the Jewish population had lost their home country and had spread out all over the globe. A great example of preserving their cultural identity is the reintroduction of the Hebrew language. The process of the Hebrew language revival began in October of 1881, as Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and his friends agreed to exclusively speak Hebrew in their conversations. As a result, the language, which had not been spoken as a mother tongue since the second century CE, once again became the national language of Israel.
To protect their integrity, Jewish upbringing emphasized separation: stay away from that, avoid mingling with these. This approach served two purposes:
- Maintain Jewish identity;
- Avoid disintegrating into foreign cultures
While this protective mode has worked very well to survive all kinds of cultural invasions, the same approach would eventually lead to a dead end. It is quite sterile to remain culturally on an island. When Jesus came along, He mingled with everybody; He did not stay away from foreigners or outsiders, and He had relations with all sorts of troubled people; this was highly counter-cultural from a conservative Jewish perspective. After His death and resurrection, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to the citizens of Galatia (in modern-day Turkey). In his letter he recommends reconciliation, just as Jesus would have done, but he also issues a stern warning not to stumble into the same pitfalls that had previously caused the friction. “Watch yourselves”, Paul wrote, “or you also may be tempted.”
Restoring relationships is never easy; in fact, separating is much easier than reconciling. A separation is precisely defined: here are the boundary lines; those are the walls and fences; do not cross. – That’s what separation is all about. – Reconciliation, on the other hand, is a whole lot messier.
Restoring relationships require a lot of courage and wisdom, and we need God’s Spirit to guide us in this delicate matter; in the process we shed prejudice and pride, since misinformation almost always leads to miscommunication. Jesus carries no such baggage. There is no labeling or defensiveness in the Son of God.
The Holy Spirit aims to connect. Building bridges supersedes burning them; getting back together is far better than erecting walls; and reconciliation always beats separation.