What Sort of People, Indeed?
The Bible is a mixture of promises and challenges for the believer. But sometimes, I think we overlook some of the greater of both. An example of each is locked up in Galatians 3:29, which I'll get to in a minute, and also in 2 Peter 3:9-12.
More about both in a bit.
First, Abraham. When someone says "Chosen nation", everyone seems to think "Israel". But those promises were made to Abram, before he became Abraham. In fact, I blogged about that a few weeks back, but something else about that has struck me, and I can't let go of it quite yet.
Consider the promise made to Abr(ah)am, right up front in Genesis 12:
Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse,. And in you all the families in the earth will be blessed".
Look at the promise(s) made in that conversation:
- Make him a great nation
- Bless him
- Make his name great
- Make him a blessing
- Bless those who bless him
- Curse those who curse him
- Bless all the families of the earth, in him.
In a post I put up a few weeks ago, I tossed out the fact that those promises were made to Abram/Abraham, not to Israel, yet we all think of Israel as the "chosen nation". And I don't disagree with that, to a great extent. But there's something else to consider, and that's the "church" .. the ekklesia .. today.
Galatians 3:29 states plainly that "..if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise." That tells me that we, the church, the Body of Christ, are the heirs of the promise made to Abraham .. those things listed above.
That sounds great, but there's a downside we'd best not be forgetting.
Consider what the effect would be, were we to act in a manner that would cause someone, not a believer, to curse God. To curse the church. To mislead people about the nature of Christians and lead them to believe God is less than He truly is, and cause them to scorn our God or His church. Might we, by our actions, be responsible in some degree for bringing God's curse upon them?
Do we need to be more careful about how we talk to one another when we're discussing our theological opinions, and those of others, on comment strings?
Does the "weaker brother" idea even extend to non-believers, and our responsibility to not contribute to their incurring God's disfavor via their attitudes toward the Body of Christ, by our errant actions?
It's not as if God hasn't told us. 2 Timothy 2:14 .. Paul told Timothy to "..warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen." Man, hasn't there been plenty of that going on in blogdom, and elsewhere, among believers. I mean, we even argue over the meaning of "inerrant" ....
Let's check on that 2 Peter 3 passage, starting at verse 9: "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in that way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!"
Did you get that? In plain English, we're challenged to consider what manner of people we're supposed to be, seeing that all this stuff around us is doomed, and only the people around us matter. And by our actions, we can either portray life in the faith as something attractive and rewarding, or we can show forth the old nature and the sort of ugliness which can very well bring scorn to the name of Christ. And perhaps the curse of God, to someone in our sphere of influence, in the process, by the very promise God made to Abram.
We talk almost in abstract terms about not bringing reproach to the cause of Jesus. If we have an ounce of compassion for our fellow man, particularly those around us who don't know Jesus, we'd best be a lot more serious about it than it seems to me we've been.
Remember the promise.