As God's people, what do you think our share of creation is?
It's a tricky question. At first glance, it's easy to say "everything." Everything in God's creation is our share as His chosen people. After all, God created creation and then created man and then told man that the creation was His. But after that, things get a little iffy.
And then again, God chose a righteous man (Noah) and his family and completely cleared the earth for them to repopulate. It's easy to say God has chosen this man and given him everything, all of creation, and therefore as God's chosen people, as His church, everything is ours as well. But things get a little iffy again.
Because we read through the Old Testament and we see a clear delineation between "God's people" and "other nations." We can trace the genealogies back and discover which branch of Noah's family tree remained chosen and which fell by the wayside, but the important point here is that we're now faced with a relatively small nation of God's chosen people....and a much larger minority of, uhm, "not God's people."
There's a sense of entitlement among Christians, and it is this that makes us so judgmental of one another and of "not God's people." There's this sense that God has given us everything because we are His and that it is our prerogative to rule and to judge and to discern as we see fit just how this creation gets divvied out. Just how eternity and heaven and hell and grace and love and mercy get divvied out. If God has given His chosen people everything, then when we run into His not chosen people (or those who have not chosen Him), it's too tempting for us to give them nothing.
This everything and nothing is not Biblical. Did you know God has not given you the world? You only get a portion of it...
He always remembers his promise, the word that he commanded for a thousand generations, the promise that he made to Abraham, and his sworn oath to Isaac. He confirmed it as a law for Jacob, as an everlasting promise to Israel, by saying, "I will give you the land of Canaan. It is your share of the inheritance. - Psalm 105:8-11
I don't know that I've ever noticed this before - that Canaan, this Promised Land, was only a share of the inheritance. It was only a part of what God had to give His creation....and even His chosen people, His very nation of Israel, only received one share. They didn't get everything.
But they got the best of it, we say. That much is true. So maybe as God's people, our share of creation is "God's very best." We get the best stuff, the best places, the best blessings. But that's not really true, either.
Because Israel moved into the Promised Land and Solomon started to build a temple and had to send to Lebanon - "not God's chosen people" - for the biggest, strongest cedars. He had to send to other nations for lumber and labor because those other nations had the very best of that.
Then what exactly is our share as God's chosen people? What are we, His church, entitled to for being...His church?
Everything He's promised and nothing more and nothing less. We don't get everything. We don't even get the best everything but we get what is good and what is promised. It is what He has set aside for us.
And it might shake some of us to learn that if we, as God's people, have only a share...there are other shares remaining and other nations who are "not God's people" who are going to get them. Does that change the way you think about grace? Does that change the way you look at the ragged man or the strung out woman who walks through your church doors?
I hope it does.
And take note of this, too - go through your Bible and read all of the stories whose main character turns out to be "not God's people." Read about the other nations. Read about...a woman named Rahab who was a prostitute in a detestable nation that God was about to destroy. Read her name...in the genealogy of Jesus. Then tell me what you think about "not God's people."
Read in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah how the king of captivity, the leader of "not God's people," provided not only a way but a provision for God's people to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple. Then tell me how you feel about "not God's people."
Read this blog or thousands of others and think about how this girl right here grew up a heathen. Then tell me more about "not God's people."
It's tempting in our churches and in our hearts to separate ourselves into "God's people" and "not God's people," to believe that God's given His people everything and the other nations nothing, that at the very least, His people get the best of everything and other nations get the leftovers. But that's not the story God is telling.
In the story God is telling, everyone gets a share. God's people and not God's people. Saints and sinners. Israel and Edom and Amalek and Babylon and Jericho and the prostitute and the king and the heathen. People who will play a small role in telling God's story and people who will play a big role and people who will not even realize what story they are telling.
Everyone gets a share. So it's time to stop looking at what you've got and the person standing next to you doesn't and instead ask how each of you is telling God's story.