Wednesday, July 17, 2013

People, Works, and Possessions

Not that long ago, I spent a few days writing about the church, our share and our portion, and about "not God's people."    It's hard sometimes for us, as blessed people, to grasp that we're not all that God's got going on around here.  He's using everybody, everything.  Which takes me into Isaiah 19...

When that day comes, a highway will run from Egypt to Assyria.  The Assyrians will come to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians.  When that day comes, Israel will be one-third of God's people, along with Egypt and Assyria.  They will be a blessing on the earth.  The Lord of Armies will bless them, saying, 'My people Egypt, the work of my hands Assyria, and my possession Israel are blessed.'  (v. 23-25)

It is interesting to consider that the day is coming when God's people will be...only one-third of God's people.  When enemy nations and those that we've been standing against for so long, and those that have stood against us, will round out the army of the Lord of Armies and worship together.  Even peoples who do not now seem to be worshiping our God.  They will worship Him.  With us.  In that day.  Crazy!

But what I'm looking at most in this verse is the blessing of the Lord of Armies.  My people... He says.  The work of my hands...and my possession.  It strikes me because these are the three varying degrees to which we are God's, and that extends beyond the nation of His people or not His people that we may or may not belong to.

There are His people, a characteristic He ascribes to the nation of Egypt.  A people is a group of persons under one leadership.  I am a part of the American people because I am under the leadership of America - its laws, its politics, its policies.  It is kind of an interesting place to be because as a people, you have this thing that defines you and yet, you maintain a certain measure of freedom that allows you to operate as you see fit within that paradigm.  As an American, I can choose my own career, build my own family, buy my own home, drive my own car, choose to walk or bike instead.  Anything I want to do within the structure set up under which I define myself, that is - anything permissible under my leadership - is possible.  Including choosing the impermissable.  As the people of God, the incorporated persons of Egypt can define themselves by the leadership of the Lord.  They operate under His authority, under what He permits or does not permit them to do.  Including choosing the impermissable.  Being His people defines them, but they retain a certain measure of freedom to do as they please within that definition of being His people.

There are the works of His hands.  In this case, the Assyrians.  The works of His hands don't have as much buy-in.  They may not identify with Him, may not place themselves under His leadership, may not acknowledge His guidance, but He made them anyway and He continues to use them.  Unbeknownst to them, their lives are worship.  They are part of the story, part of the plan, and they are working into the narrative something glorious God is doing.  In our society, we might call them unsuspecting unbelievers.  Or even reluctant republicans (little R).  There is so much in our society that is innately religious that it almost seems innocuous, but it seeps into the hearts of even the loudest protesters and they are a part of the worship whether intentional or not.  By being a part of the state, they are a part of the worship.  And who knows what God is doing with their lives.  Time will only tell.  They are still a part of His people, wholly blessed, the work of His hands.  Made, at least, if unknowingly - or unadmittedly - so.

There are His possessions, people He fully owns.  People who have given themselves over to Him and into His hands and who have committed themselves to His doing whatever He wants with them.  More committed than a people merely under His leadership, these are persons under His full control.  As if they were objects in His house.  As if they were pieces He could move around and rearrange however He sees fit.  These people are sold out, and they've been bought with blood and they know it.  They are His, wholly His, and happy to be so.  They are His possession.

We are all God's.  The question is, to what degree are you His?  Are you living life as the work of His hands, simply something He made and not something greater?  Are you a person of His people, defining yourself by His leadership?  Or are you His possession, fully sold out and wholly bought back by the redeeming power of Jesus' blood?

More on this thought tomorrow, but I want to give you today to think about where you're living.

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