Monday, 11 May 2009
It's rather funny how what people perceive is so often opposite to the truth. Here is just one great example: Christians are smug because they believe themselves to be the elect and therefore better then everyone. I lost count how many times I've heard something that that slung at my head. (Of course this is not to say it has no validity that Christians are smug, merely that Christianity is not.) The Rabbis faced the same sort of questions. Why are they God's elect? Why not another nation? We often, falsely, accused the Jews of being arrogant, when we ourselves are as arrogant today. However I believe that Sanders makes a great point about the true nature of election in this quote:
"The Rabbis were no more plagued by arrogance than any other people who held the doctrine of election; indeed, the idea that suffering was entailed in the election...helps to give quite a non-arrogant tone to Rabbinic thought on election. The idea of being privileged as children of Abraham may have been abused, but abuses were cited by the Rabbis themselves. Smugness was resisted."
(E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism, p.87)
We are elected to suffer. We are chosen and called to suffer on behalf of the world. In our suffering the Gospel takes hold and is given to the world that all may be saved. Where is smugness now? No longer are we a people who deserve great things but rather a people who suffer for the worlds sake. It's not a calling to greatness or an election to superiority but to suffer.
Jesus, the eternally elect of God, as in all things is our great example. Paul wrote:
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Phil 2: 5-11, NASB)
Yes we are the elect but this is not to be lauded over people. Christ, the only one who truly has any right to be smug instead humbled himself to serve, and ultimately to suffer for the sake of the world. Let us then follow 'such a great crowd of witnesses' (Heb 12:1) we have in Judaism and and follow the author and perfector of our faith (Heb 12:2) and use this election not as something to by prideful in and be smug about but to serve and suffer for the world, for Christ’s sake and the furthering of his kingdom.
Till next time!