I've been trying to figure out what's so bad about being one of the direct descendants of the Biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They were the grandfathers of all the twelve tribes of Israel.
Everywhere I look in history, I find these folks the victims of ruthless killing, confinement, torture. Everywhere I look today, I find bigotry, separatism, ruthless killing, confinement and torture.
You can try a little experiment. Imagine telling one of your friends that you have recently discovered that your heritage leads back to Abraham. That you're one of the, "Chosen People." Whatever form your friend's reaction takes, I guarantee, it will express disdain. Don't, under any circumstances, tell this to your Minister.
What's behind all this persecution? I'm going to pin it on Fear. Fear is the only thing I know that makes people crazy . I also know that the only thing we can be afraid of, is that we'll not be kept equal with everybody else. Every time I analyze a fear of mine, I find that my fear has driven me to "cover my act" in some manner. Trying to make sure I'm all right. As good as I deserve. I think of it as Validity Insurance.
If I'm "insuring" myself with money, for instance, I may be the guy that, "dresses real funny, but he's got a lot of money." My wealth is the "insurance" that lets me get away with rotten behavior. For example, I might revel in taking advantage of store clerks with my stormy outbursts, knowing that they'll take it because I spend so much money in the store.
Well, if people lash out because they feel they're not considered equal, maybe that's why God's Chosen People have been under the gun so long. The Bigots probably think that God singled out these people for some special reward and no one else qualifies. I tell you, I'd be hoppin' mad if I thought anyone, including God, figured that some other human being was better than me. I know people. I see them everyday. And they ain't perfect. By the same longshot that I'm not perfect. If I didn't know better, I'd be mad at God for Choosing those Israelites, too. I'd say God was an Elitist. That He engaged in nepotism. The unfairness of a God, to select out a single group of people to shower His blessings on, makes Him unworthy of my respect or worship.
Thank God! That's not the way it worked. In fact, it was just the reverse. God put those Israelites to work for Him. The pay was good when they did a good job, and bad when they didn't. God dumped the overwhelming responsibility of HIS work on the poor Hebrew people. And of course, being the Boss, He didn't ask. He told Abraham what to do.
God's work. Is it too presumptuous for us to think we can discern the work of God? Not always. Only in the aspects that we can't understand. My theory is, that God gave His creations the stuff to find out how to get on down here, AND what to do to get "out There." Anybody can work for God. Anyone can find His messages on how to live on earth. But the two aren't the same. One isGod's work, one is our work. God's work is to tell everyone He's on their side and wants them to come live with Him. "Go tell it on the mountain," and all that.
OK, so the Chosen people were pressed into service to do God's Work down here. See, when Jesus was here, He did small miracles, but God can get away with real whoppers. He does that mostly so there's no mistaking that He did it. Here're some examples.
He took a small band of prosperous shepherds to represent Him and His Ways on earth. To open the door to people, not close it. He parted the Red Sea, killed the first born of Egypt, moved people around for four hundred years to keep His promise of a land of their own, even fulfilled prophesies 2500 years old. This just to motivate the rest of the world to come to Him.
Sure, these marvels also helped the Israelites when their faith flagged. Call that a perk. The blessing was a cycle. God told them to live a certain way so He could bless them and show the other people; so they would live that way and God would bless them and they would tell other people and they would live that certain way and God would.......
God's pretty smart. God's Breeder Reactor. Righteousness breeds Blessing. Blessing breeds Righteousness.
Let's take a closer look at the mission of the Chosen People. Chosen. Big deal! First, they were to proclaim, by their worship, that there was only one God. Most of the people of the old days were idol-worshippers. There was Baal and Bel and Tammuz and Osiris, to name a few. Most any old God or Goddess would do. As long as the God didn't care if you got drunk and had a party when you worshipped Him. Have you noticed how the Money God has been worshipped lately? Idol worship lives on.
Secondly, the Hebrews were to be a living demonstration of the Blessing Cycle we just talked about. And it's recorded over and over how they prospered when they served God, and fell on hard times when they didn't. The United States is a clear example of prosperity being the reward for doing it God's way. I have to call America a Christian nation. And even though we can't call ourselves Chosen like the Jews, we still try to live by those same Laws. Well, I guess you know what nation of the earth is the richest. Worshiping that one God, and only Him, has resulted in His blessing us. Makes sense to me.
Third on the list, is to receive, preserve, and transmit the scripture. We know that the God of the Bible didn't reveal His word through the people of China. They have a different story of eternal things. The Chosen People are to keep the word alive, and pass it down to their children. God also wanted the Israelites to pass the word to other nations. Not much to get excited about.
Last, and lowest on the list of "gifts," is that the bloodline from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was to provide the vehicle for the Messiah's birth. Not much benefit to Abraham, 1400 years before Jesus. In fact, not much benefit to anyone from the time of the promise to Abraham to the present; even if I count myself his direct descendant. Oh sure, "all the families of the earth shall be blessed," says that because of Jesus, the world is blessed. But that doesn't put food on my table. Yours?
And what about the ridicule that the Chosen People ran into? And continue to suffer today? People just don't want to admit to an all-powerful, controlling God, and resist being told of one. I can see some pea-brain thinking that one God in charge of all this doesn't wash. That God couldn't handle that much work, just because he can't.
Take the blessing part. You ever had a quarter, when everybody else only had two cents? When I was a kid, I was expected to cheerfully subsidize my friends: who never seemed to have money of their own. And when I wouldn't buy a coke and split it six ways, I was a miser, a cheapskate. You know the story. People just naturally seem to be envious of others. When the Israelites were riding high, they were hated by the other kingdoms.
Worst of all the "wonderful" things that God provided for His Chosen Ones, was being able to claim kinship to someone said to be the Saviour of the earth. The Hebrews now become the most elite crowd in the history of man. People hate elitists.
What about unfairness now? It seems, too, that the Chosen Ones should be the ones to shout, "Unfair!" I think the bigotry surrounding the Chosen People, is based on the imaginary fear that some people are held in a higher position than others by God.
I consider myself "chosen." In the respect that I feel called to do God's work. And I want to shout "unfair" up on the housetops. I've wanted to change my mind ever since I started listening to God. I had a wonderful place in the country. All the comforts. I like comforts. I like knowing where my money is coming from, and that there's plenty of it. I like to have fun, not work. I spent my whole life trying to be my own boss, only to find out I had to work for God to do it.
And when I made God a real thing in my life, I wound up in the same boat with the Bigot. We're both afraid of not making it. The bigot knows in his heart that he can't make it on his own, and I'm afraid I won't make it. The Fear of the Lord is in there somewhere, too.
I ask myself, "What am I doing?" What a fool. I know what some people are going to say. They've said that stuff for centuries. Why would anyone willingly choose to become "chosen" of God? Look at me! I'm sitting here, fool that I am, trying to convince skeptics, cynics, atheists, and sinners that there's really an Invisible Mute, that's in charge of all this.
Once more, I've found that all anger is a product of fear. And that all fear is the product of invalidation. It's a fact. When people think they're being made less of, they get afraid and lash out. Folks' rebellion to the Chosen People looks to me like people afraid of being left out. People that think they lack what it takes for God's salvation.
Oddly enough, many of these prejudicial people are Christians. You'd think that Christians would feel pretty safe about making it into heaven, or wherever. Well, if we go back to the universal concept that it's fear that causes Christian bigotry as well as non-Christian bigotry, we may find ourselves concluding that these religious bigots don't feel very safe with their kind of heavenly pursuit. Maybe they realize, even if only subconsciously, that all the "Good Works" they're told to do, don't really keep them in touch with God; or count toward an eternal reward. I know many Christians who have trapped themselves, into prideful Self-Righteousness over their Good Works and Loving Thy Neighbor.
I maintain that if you're really in touch with your God, you know it. And when you know you're in touch, or know how to make contact, little things like bigotry don't exist for you. You have the strength of God to overcome any fear of invalidation. That's what let the Christians endure the Roman Circus and the lions. They knew, by first hand contact, even death couldn't change them. Or make them inferior to their murderers. It's that sure knowledge, that underpins all the acts of faith that Christians tell of.
As far as the Chosen People are concerned, they've got my applause. I'll even stand up. For someone who has to help God save me? Damn right. And who's to say that haswe're not them? Direct descendants from Abraham. But, that's another story.
My hope is that God will choose you. In fact, His call is
right in this discussion. Did you hear it?
I've found a whole new way to look at the Ten Commandments. It helps me put in perspective the classical clash between the two systems of justification for sins. This conflict has been going on since the first Babylonian empire; ruled by Nimrod and Semiramis some 3800 years ago.
The statement of the Babylonian system presents justification by good deeds. This method of gaining eternal life is widespread throughout the religions of the world; including Christianity. Many forms of Christianity teach that your good works can balance the bad things you do in your life, and you'll get some eternal reward. If your bad deeds outweigh your good......too bad.
The other system of justification, is by the Grace of God. This system says, that the only way to be cleared of your sins is by a free gift from God. This gift is given, not earned. It goes to anyone, regardless of who they are, or what good or bad they may have done previously. It can in no way be earned. The word Grace means, unmerited favor. If that's the way to get into heaven, then all the good deeds in the world won't help you get saved. Whatever that means.
One of the main reasons for this "holy war" is human weakness. You see, when a man can tell a bunch of people what to do, he gets to enjoy and protect that power. If something comes along to rock his little empire, he's going to fight back. Some petty kings even persuade themselves that "It's for the good of the people."
Now it's one thing to be a ruler of men, such as a king. We understand mostly that kings work for themselves. We also see them as vulnerable under certain circumstances. Being human they remain open to attack.
The priest, however, is only the Messesnger of God; the All Knowing, All Seeing, and (especially) the All Vengeful God sends to tell us what we have to do to please Him. In other words, God is the Boss; and you don't argue with God. That lets the priest off the hook, but still leaves him in a position to tell the sinner what's best for him. The priest is the way to God.
Well, when there are many, maybe hundreds of people who are yearning for the Unknowable, as we all do, even the best intentions can go astray and lead people down a dead end. Of course, the priests of some people include sex in the atoning works to be done by the sinner. Check the Bible for the sons of Eli. They were so bad, God had to change His mind and cut off their line from the priesthood.
The system of justification by Grace does away with the need for good deeds. Thereby, it does away also with the need of some Mediator to tell the sinner how to live or atone for his badness. A hair-raising example, is the Pope. The saving Grace method makes the Pope unnecessary in the process of justification. But, he is set up as THE authority under God.
Try and imagine what would go through the Pope's head if Grace was about to take over his job. He'd fight pretty hard to stay one of the richest men in the world. Controlling fortunes and wielding enormous political power. We can see clearly what one group of religious leaders did to the threat of Grace. They were also heavy into rules and good deeds. They were the high priests of Israel. The ones responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. People get very weird when you fool with their jobs.
Now that we have some idea of how the two systems work, let's look at how rules work. I taught Physical Education for many years. May times I had to bone up on rules. On one occasion I discovered that the very rules I was trying to learn, were giving me a lesson in how to perform the activity governed by the rules. In this case I happened to be learning the rules of pitching a softball. To my pleasure, I found that as I went through the things I was told I couldn't do, I was being forced to pitch a certain way. I couldn't spin. I couldn't twist my hand. My release had to be no earlier than a certain place in the forward swing. My windup was limited. Except for a few small variations, which allowed for curves and the like, the rules taught me how to pitch a softball.
That brings us back to the Ten Commandments. Betcha thought I forgot. Let's look at those Rules in the same way as my softball rules. What if God created the world so that there was only one way His creation worked. I think that's pretty certain. God wouldn't make stuff that worked all different ways. I mean, trees do what trees do and men do what men do. I know that anyone who makes up any kind of game, has a basic idea of how to play. And if they want others to play too, they have to tell their friends the "rules."
Well, I maintain that God made up this Life-game that we're playing. Being a good Gamewright, He set down rules on how best to play His Game. So let's approach those Commandments from the positive side instead of the usual negative. We won't have anything to say about not doing stuff, like the Thou Shalt Nots. We'll focus on the unwritten preamble to the Ten Commandments.
It says, "Welcome to Life. This can be a very pleasant experience. I will give you everything you need to play, so you never have to worry. This Life is something like an aged garden path with some of the stones missing. These pitfalls are easy to recognize, so you won't have any trouble seeing them. All you need do is follow the rules below and you can make your Life work in an optimum manner. I only have two suggestions. Worship only me, and give your neighbor the same break you give yourself."
I know that sounds like an amusing little exercise, but I think that's the way it works. All those rules are nothing more than a guide for a better life while we're here. I mean, if the pump brings up water when you turn it to the right, and the handle just comes off when you turn it to the left, which way will you turn the handle if you want water?
So, I think that The Rules are God's message to us about how to live in His creation. But I don't think we can call the doing of those rules God's Work. The two things might seem the same. But think for a moment. Is it likely that God's work, is taking care of the poor? Does He consider it His primary task to bring about world peace? Or does He leave those things to us who are suppose to Love our Neighbors?
What does God do for a living? Have you ever thought of that? Let's see......, He makes new stars and worlds and things. He listens to the angels sing. Doesn't sound too convincing, does it? Well, what IS God's business? I find God occupied with giving man a means of salvation. God's in the business of saving souls; not jumping on us every time we make a mistake. He didn't set down the Ten Commandments to insure us of damnation, but as a means for us to live by trusting Him and His Grace. We're to trust, that if we live within His created apparatus, He'll give us His Grace and take away our sins.
The place to put all your focus is on the word trust, and not the apparatus. You see, God is looking for Trusters. He doesn't care what vehicle these people use in doing their trusting. If folks act outwardly as if there was a God and that they trust His help, He'll give them His salvation.
Okay, if God's work is saving sinners, then that's our work, too. Here's the tricky part. Outside of telling us HOW to live, God's told us what to do. What to work at. Through our help, God's plan for justification can be presented to others. Some people call it getting the Word out. The trouble I have found with most people who try to get the Word out, is that they seem to have the wrong Word.
My study shows that God has told us His method of saving in many different places around the world. The Bible, the Zodiac, the Pyramid, Stonehenge and Jesus Christ; as a real person. All of those things proclaim God's Grace through Jesus. But Jesus what? Certainly not His commands and admonitions. They were the same that God set down hundreds of years before Christ. His acts are the best place to look. Jesus always acted in trust of the Father.
People were healed by their acting in trust of Jesus power. Jesus raised some from the dead through his acting in trust of God's power and Jesus ability to be a channel; for enough of that Power, to bring the dead to life. And finally, Christ let himself be crucified on the promise of God to raise Him from the tomb in three days. Everywhere I look, I find Faith actions as the way we receive God's Grace. Dr. Gene Scott calls it Faithing.
You must think of God's Grace as His Spirit. And that the Spirit, upon our trusting act, enters into us and causes a certain amount of "saving."
We hear the word Gospel thrown around a lot. Gospel, means Good News. Well, I'd say it is really good news to be set free from having to worry if I was living up to God's standards of excellence. I'd never make it. God's standard is perfect, and, as you might guess, I'm far from perfect. Who do you know that isn't.
I've gotten confused by what some people call the Gospel. Some say it's Love, some say Forgiveness. But those aren't new. God's always been Loving and Forgiving. The thing that came new with Jesus was salvation through trusting acts in belief of God's word. That wasn't taught until Christ came.
I'm not confused anymore. I've seen God take a hold of my life when I've Faithed on His promise of help. And a happy result is, that I automatically live according to the Rules, when I Faithe. Naturally, when you ask for God's help, you want to do things the way He wants them done. And not try to make it on your own.
Rules are only rules. They can't save. Trusting God can. Try letting God help you. Show Him that you trust Him.