By Pastor Paula Burchill
Someone recently told me she was really bothered by the fact that God chose some people over others. After thinking about it, I wrote her a note with some of my thoughts about this difficult issue. Here they are.
I have been thinking about your question about the Jews being God’s Chosen People. I’m sure that it seems like God choosing some people over other people doesn’t go with the God we know who is so inclusive and all-loving.
The way I think about it is that God is all-loving, but also very specific. God gets down into specific parts of history with specific people because that is really the best way for God to get God’s work done in the world.
It sort of relates to someone selling cleaning products or Mary Kay or a health product they love. Are those products available to everyone? Of course. Are they good for everyone? Of course. But truly the best way to find out about those products is from someone who really knows it and loves it and wants to share its amazing benefits. You might say someone chosen to share them with others.
It is the same with God choosing the Jews. Does that means that God didn’t create all people and that God doesn’t love all people and that God doesn’t want all people to know how awesome God is? Of course not. It just means that God decided that the best way for that news to get out, was through some specific people.
When God chose Abraham and Sarah, he said, “I will bless you SO THAT you will be a blessing to others. And through you I want to bring my blessings to the whole world.” And the Jews had to learn again and again, because they messed up again and again, that God was everywhere. And that their job was to be a “light to the nations.”
So I’m sure God could have revealed who God is to everyone individually, but I guess God just chooses not to work that way. And honestly, I think that can—when it is at its best, function to make us a better community. Because we want to share with others what is so awesome in our own lives, and it can bring us together in ways we wouldn’t be if we were not sharing what we love, if that makes sense.
Now, in the New Testament, the big debate was what now? When Jesus came and hung out with Gentiles and sinners and didn’t seem to care who or what you were, when the disciples started sharing his love with the world, they wondered, well, what about the Chosen people—the Jews. In Romans, Paul says they are still chosen, but God is also now doing a new thing.
But in a way it is also kind of the same thing. Because God came to the earth as a specific poor man named Jesus. In a specific time and a specific place. And from there, Jesus calls US to share him with the world.
And when he died and rose he sent the Holy Spirit, which is already in the world [hence the story of Pentecost and every language being represented], and the disciples are sent out to help everyone name the God who is already there.
I love a passage in I Corinthians where Paul says, see that altar over there with no name on it [the Greeks used to build tons of altars to their gods and they always left one without a name in case they inadvertently missed one]. Paul said, that God, has a name. Let me tell you about him.
I’m not sure if that helps. I think that God wants to be shared with everyone and God chose to do that by calling some chosen people. And now, through Jesus, we are grafted on to that tree as well. And we get to share too, and everyone we share the good news with gets to share that good news with someone else. And that is how God wants to make EVERYONE his Chosen People.
Let me know if you have any questions, and thanks for getting me to think about this.