Random Blog Clay Feet: December 04, 2007
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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Prejudice and Numbers

There is much more in these verses that I have not even seen yet and I like to review over them with an open mind and heart to see what else comes to my attention. (Romans 9:25 through 10:11)

I notice something in regards to a question I had about the meaning of using the reference to Sodom and Gomorrah. It looks to me like the primary reason Paul referenced that was in relation to numbers. That is significant given our own obsession with numbers in religion today. In the prophecy of Isaiah the Jew's trust in their growing numbers was exposed by the revelation that only a handful of people from the chosen would be saved. In using the prophecy from Hosea their prejudice against anyone outside their own select group was exposed when God declares that there would be children of His outside the parameters of what the Jews thought was acceptable.

He goes on to show that Isaiah foretold that if it were not for God's mercy in active intervention that in fact none of the original chosen people would be found saved at the end. This makes it even more clear that it is not the group or family or denomination that we claim to be a part of that has anything to do with our being saved as it has to do with responding to the grace, mercy and the real truth about God individually. If God had not worked hard to keep faith alive in the hearts of the few Jews who were willing to respond to the truth of the Gospel there would have been as many Jews saved in the time of Paul as there were people who escaped the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

He goes on to show the main reason why there were so few who would respond – just a remnant. They had so prejudiced their hearts against the goodness of God and against anyone who was not part of their “in” group that when Jesus showed up, even as one of their own, and treated all people without any prejudice – women, non-Jews, children, every single person – showing them compassion and undiluted love and grace, they found this kind of attitude to be highly offensive and repulsive to their narrow-minded, bigoted views of religion and righteousness. Instead of seeing Jesus and the character he displayed as the foundation stone upon which they could build the world-wide empire which God had conditionally promised the Jews through Old Testament prophets, they only saw him as an obstacle to their cravings for an empire of world-wide force, domination and control. He became to them a Rock of offense.

But while religion had so hardened the heart of nearly all of God's originally chosen people against accepting that God was like the demonstration seen in the characteristics of Jesus, there were thousands of non-Jews – Gentiles – who were ripe and ready to embrace the hope and transformation that could be experienced through believing the truth about God as revealed in Jesus. When they heard the truth about God's goodness, kindness, love and compassion, faith was awakened in their hearts and light flooded into the darkness of their superstitions about God and they threw themselves onto the mercy of God and were identified by God as His own children.

This action on God's part only served to further harden the hearts of most Jews, even all the way into our day. Their narrow view of God's love could not allow for them to believe that He wanted to save, especially so easily, those outside their own special, select group. And while we Gentiles today may think we do not have the same problem as the Jews we are easily falling into the same trap with just different labels and group parameters. Nearly every denomination claims to be the remnant, chosen people of God and usually looks upon all others as less deserving of God's favor.

I am not saying at all that all denominations are the same or even constitute God's chosen and saved. There is an enormous amount of deception going on in all denominations to a greater or lesser extent. And because it is deception the people thus deceived do not know they are deceived. Oh, it may seem easy to look at other churches and point out how they are deceived, and that may be true. But how ready is each one of us to take a fresh look at our own assumptions and doctrines and reexamine each one of them critically in the light of increasing revelations of truth about the characteristics revealed in the life of Christ? We often go through the motions of what we call Bible study, but all too often it is largely a sham, an exercise of filling in blanks from predetermined texts strung together by someone else to lead everyone to a predetermined conclusion. I find it difficult to see how that can be viewed as study.

The Jews had the same problem of vicarious thinking that most of us still have today. They put more importance on the conclusions and teachings of their leaders than they did on digging individually or in small groups into the Word of God to see for themselves what God had to reveal to them. I find the same frustrating situation today almost across the board. Either people are not willing to utilize their own mind and exercise and stretch it in mining the Word, or on the other hand they come to the Bible with strong opinions and dig very hard through it to find everything that seems to support what they want to believe. They then claim that their text-reinforced opinions are the solemn, cutting edge truths for this time and everyone else must accept their interpretations of Scripture or be eternally lost.

What tips one off to the problems encountered in this last group is the use of coercion and threats that they find necessary to promote their beliefs. Their often frequent claim that anyone who does not accept their doctrines will be lost is a subtle use of force which is inconsistent with the most fundamental principle of God's character – the right of complete freedom of our will and His preference for working primarily with the heart. While it is true that those who reject the mercy of God and the truth about His character will find themselves cut off from the only Source of life and in the end will be lost, it is not because their refused some arbitrary, intellectual doctrine that someone else insisted they subscribe to; it will be because they closed their heart to the loving attractions and drawing of the sweet Spirit of God wooing them into an intimate, synchronized (obedient) relationship with the very heart of God.

This issue is the very point where the Jews stumbled and most still do today. This problem is where most religious people still harden their heart while vehemently claiming to have “the truth” while not allowing the softening influence of the sweet Spirit of Jesus to fill their hearts with His love and compassion for those who differ with them. When we become more enamored with our list of doctrines than we do with the beauty and attractiveness of Jesus, then we too will not really know about God's righteousness but will be found to be establishing our own without subjecting ourselves to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:3).

Real, God-like righteousness is that which is naturally grown in our hearts through faith. Faith is a natural response to appreciating the beauty of God's character. And faith is something that takes place in the heart primarily. The mind, the left brain part of our being, simply does not have the proper soil for real faith and love to grow. It certainly has its place in God's plan for us, but it is the wrong place to grow seeds that were designed to thrive in the heart or right brain.

The righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: ...”The Word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord (left brain acquiescence), and believe in your heart (right brain emotional deep attachment) that God raised Him from the dead (because you experience Him in your soul as a real presence), you will be saved (healed from deep inner pain, lies, wounds, dysfunction, and the symptoms of these expressed in strong negative emotions and actions); for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation, for the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed (or ashamed). Romans 10:6, 8-10.

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