2004-03-21 - Introduction
The Meaning of Life Series, Part 1
The year was 1863 when Samuel Kragen, leaving his wife and sister-in-law in New York, sailed to California by way of the Isthmus of Panama. "Crossing the Isthmus by rowboat wherever possible and on mules through the jungle, he finally reached the Pacific Coast after three days of hard traveling. From there, it was by sailing vessel to San Francisco. " And it was sometime later that his wife joined him by sailing around the Horn. Samuel had fled Krakow, Austria, family tradition tells us, because of the persecution of the Jews. But like a lot of Jews who had fled tribulation, he also left Judaism, and with it he left the question of personal faith to each of his children. They might be Jewish, but what they believed was their own choice. It appears Samuel may have come to believe the cost of being Jewish was too high. He told his sons they were free to make whatever decision they wanted to regarding their faith.
And this was the way it was with the Kragens. My father was an agnostic until shortly after I was born. Then he accepted the Lord. I have immediate family who are believers, others who are religious Jews, some who have been involved with cults, and, as might be expected, some who believe nothing at all. It should be noted that my grandfather, who lived with us from the time I was nine months old until about the time I was in Jr. High, did come to accept Jesus when he was in his eighties. The Kragens were a family who came out of the Jewish people, a family whose roots may have gone back to the Levites. But, sadly, it appears most of them decided that life came somewhere other than God. Like many others, they have made their own way in a world, instead of seeking where God desired them to go.
And so I grew up in a semi-Jewish culture, in the open city of San Francisco. If this city were a cereal, it would be granola: full of fruits, nuts and flakes. I also grew up in mainstream Protestantism, the Presbyterian Church. As a child I didnt understand the difference between the terms Jewish and Catholic, but I knew I was a Christian, having accepted the Lord at five years of age. I knew that Jesus was Jewish, that I was a Jew too, and somehow that was cool.
But even as a young believer, I struggled with the same question that, decades later, still poses a challenge: where does life come from? The battle is not one of lack of knowledge, but of how to live as a believer. The real issue for me then, through my youth and on into adulthood, is how to put feet to the truths of the Gospel. Being a Messianic believer, I reach out to both Jew and gentile. Being in both business and Ministry, people are always watching me. And being human, what they see isnt always what I wish.
The question I have always battled with is how to live out the reality of Christ in my life. And the question which we all must ask ourselves, be we Jews or Gentiles is: where does life come from for us? What is the true motivating force of our lives? Is it God, or is it someone or something else?
I have felt led by the Lord to speak to this problem which we all face, the reality of our faith in a real world. This is, as Dr. McGee would say, "Where the rubber meets the road."
Comments or Questions?