Tuesday, January 29, 2013

the God of both outsiders and insiders

For many years I've used the NIV translation of Scripture, but lately I've been reading The Message.  I like it because it helps me understand a lot of passages in a fresh way.  Here's Romans 3:27-31.
God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear the world of sin.  Having faith in him sets us in the clear.  God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured.  This is not only clear, but it's now—this is current history!  God sets things right.  He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness.
So where does that leave our proud Jewish insider claims and counterclaims?  Canceled?  Yes, canceled.  What we've learned is this: God does not respond to what we do; we respond to what God does.  We've finally figured it out.  Our lives get in step with God and all others by letting him set the pace, not by proudly or anxiously trying to run the parade.
And where does that leave our proud Jewish claim of having a corner on God?  Also canceled.  God is the God of outsider non-Jews as well as insider Jews.  How could it be otherwise since there is only one God?  God sets right all who welcome his action and enter into it, both those who follow our religious system and those who have never heard of our religion.
But by shifting our focus from what we do to what God does, don't we cancel out all our careful keeping of the rules and ways God commanded?   Not at all.  What happens, in fact, is that by putting that entire way of life in its proper place, we confirm it.

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