I was in my car, driving home, and yelling at God. I was certainly not at my best, but I was absolutely confused, hurting and angry. One of my friends had just died of brain cancer. Because our church had fasted and prayed, I felt that we had somehow did what was needed to earn a miracle. A miracle never came, and I questioned God just like an arrogant and inexperienced child treats a parent they feel is inept. What do you do when you don’t understand God? Thank God I’ve grown from that experience. I’ve learned how moments of confusion can become empowering God encounters.
In this episode we explore Romans 11:25-36, God’s mysterious mercy. If you think the Bible’s easy to understand, think again. There are so many mysteries that have not yet been revealed to us, and we find a couple in today’s passage. For example, how is it that God has rejected the Jews and yet we find them still referred to as His elected people? How is it that the disobedience of the Jews actually led to the potential salvation of the entire world including the Jews? How could the Jews have been rejected by God because of their disobedience and yet also promised to be saved? There are too many mysteries to state here, so press play and lets engage this passage together.
“Son, I want you to understand something. I want you to fail a lot while you’re still young. One day, you’ll be grown up and on your own, making bigger mistakes than you are today. I won’t be able to help you then as much as I can help you now. So, while I’m still able to teach you how to learn from your mistakes, I don’t want you to fear failure, I want you to see it as an opportunity.” That was one of the stranger conversations I’ve had with my son. I’m not even sure if all of it really registered with him. But, what I do know is that my kids know that failure is sometimes more useful than success because daddy helps them learn. Similarly, within Christianity, failure can be incredibly more beneficial than success.
I’ve had some people get bored of me, get frustrated with me, stop liking me, take offence at me, and they have chosen to move on. That’s really ok, it’s their choice. But, the bigger question is, does God treat us the same way? Does God ever move on from us? Does God get tired of you? In this episode we explore Romans 11:11-23 and see that question answered (for the tenth time in Romans).
In this episode we explore a question of rejection: “Does God reject people?”
In Romans 11:1-10 Paul asks if God has rejected Israel, His chosen people of the Old Testament. If God has rejected people who were once accepted, then what’s to say He won’t also reject us. And, if He didn’t reject them, then why are they not following Jesus?
It’s a warm summer morning, the sun feels great because the breeze is strong enough to stop me from overheating. While I’m jogging along the sidewalk I casually wave to a neighbour, and with a smile on his face he waves back. Because my athletic conditioning is nothing to brag about I find myself grateful for any shortcut I can find on my running routes. Suddenly my kind neighbour lets out a stern yell, “Hey, stay off my grass.” (You know, I do feel slightly sorry for those corner lot home owners with that walking path at the corner of their lawn.) My neighbours’ kindness and sternness is often dependant on my behaviour. God’s kindness and sternness can be similarly dependant.
I often hear comments spouting the virtue of humility. I wouldn’t consider, even for a microsecond, speaking against humility. I do, however, wonder if we have a deep enough context to understand how the virtue fits within our fellowship with God. It seems to me that without context humility is simply a plastic way for people to make themselves look more pious so they can feel like they’re doing something that empowers them to be rewarded by God. Proper context, I believe, removes false piety and adds a healthy dose of fear and realism that attacks the glamorous light we tend to see ourselves in.
Sometimes the Bible has some harsh words to say about some groups of people, particularly when the topic is salvation. Rather than pick on someone that I really have no beef with, I think it’s a good idea to reflect on what today’s text means to me. When I’m done, you can figure out if it means the same to you, too.