Saturday, July 20, 2013

God Doesn't Have Favorites

God chose to use Israel as a tool to reveal himself.

Ephesians 2:11-13  Don't forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called "uncircumcised heathens" by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts.  12  In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.  13  But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to Him through the blood of Christ.

Deuteronomy 10:16-19  Therefore, change your hearts and stop being stubborn.  17  "For the LORD your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed.  18  He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing.  19  So you, too, must show love to foreigners, for you yourselves were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.

Ever since the original sin people have been very good at putting up barriers, throughout world history you can see the barriers between ourselves and those around us and the boxes that we put each other in, it is a part of our sin nature that affects every relation that we have. Sin creates hate, bitterness, strife, fighting, war, conflict, there's only one thing that ruins the possibility of having a perfect human relationship.

There are so many labels that could be put on a person, labels that were intended to show superiority and human pride, this was a major problem throughout the Bible:

✔ You can hear some pride in King David's voice when he said in 1 Samuel 17:26: "For who is this uncircumcised Philistine?"

✔ You can hear the Gentile contempt for the Jews when you listen to Pilate. "I surely am not a Jew am I?" (John 18:35)

✔ Check out this interaction between Paul and an angry crowd of Jews: "But the Lord said to me, 'Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!'" 22 The crowd listened until Paul said that word. Then they all began to shout, "Away with such a fellow! He isn't fit to live!" 23 They yelled, threw off their coats, and tossed handfuls of dust into the air. (Acts 22:21-23)

The Jews had distorted the fact that God chose them as a tool to reveal himself to the world, instead of showing the world a better way of living and drawing attention to God they decided that they would use God's favor on them to justify elevating themselves over everybody else. They ignored a lot of facts in the Old Testament that showed that God was for everybody:

✔ God said that they would be a blessing to others, not superior and condescending to others (Genesis 12:2)

✔ Abraham went to Melchizedek, the king of Salem, a non-Jew and a priest of God.  Melchizedek made it clear that the Jews didn't have God all to themselves, he feared and worshiped God and since he was a priest he received an offering from Abraham (Genesis 14:17-20)

✔ Why was God concerned that righteous people would perish in Sodom and Gomorrah if he was only the God of the Jews? (Genesis 18:20)

✔ Jethro, Moses' father-in-law and non-Jew was convinced that he knew God (Exodus 18:10-12)

✔ God told his people through the prophet Isaiah that the Jews didn't have a lock on God and God said that his house would be a house of prayer for all nations. (Isaiah 56:3, Isaiah 56:6-8 )

✔ Rahab and Ruth, how about these important non-Jews in Jesus' genealogy?

✔ And don't forget about God's concern for the Assyrians that were living in Nineveh. God loved them but Jonah couldn't stand the idea of going to their city and having a revival.

God never said that salvation belonged only to the Jews. Their special privilege was supposed to be a witness to the nations that would draw everyman to God. Their lifestyle should have made the world take notice and it should have given the Jews an opportunity to explain why they are different. Instead of that it became an excuse for carnal, selfish pride and thoughts of superiority.
Does your life honor God?
Romans 2:23-24  You are so proud of knowing the law, but you dishonor God by breaking it.  24  No wonder the Scriptures say, "The Gentiles blaspheme the name of God because of you.
The Apostles had an uphill battle convincing the early church that they were all equal and that everybody is and always have been standing on level ground. Imagine all of these different groups of people having to go to worship and having to go to dinner together.

The New Testament teaches that we, the church, are supposed to be different. We are to walk in love, live by the spirit our conversation and our way of life should be totally different from the rest of the world. (Matthew 5:16) Our world should notice the difference that Jesus has made and then we will have opportunities to explain why.

Thank you Lord for giving me a new life. May I never look at the world and fail to have compassion I want them to be drawn to you and wonder why I am different.