Breaking Barriers and Extending Love
An old friend of mine used to always say, “If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, then it’s a duck.” That was his way of telling me that some things in life are obvious and didn’t require much thought. He was saying that we should approach complex problems by first looking at the basics.
Walking in the Basics
Romans 9:8 (NASB): “That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.”
In Romans 9, the apostle Paul addresses a challenge of identification within the Christian community. The question arises: Who truly is a believer in Jesus? Who is a Christian? While this may seem like a complex issue, Paul explains that at its core, it’s pretty basic. Embracing God’s inclusive family means recognizing that anyone who believes in Jesus and follows Him is a part of His family.
The Qualification of a True Believer
Romans 9:6 (NASB): “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.”
In the context of the early church, where many members were of Jewish descent, being a Jew was considered the qualification for true belief in Jesus due to their heritage. They had been taught for thousands of years that they were special, chosen by God. This unique position was intended to draw them closer to God, but their own nature led them farther away.
The Nature of Scarcity
The concept of scarcity plays a role in the Jewish believers’ mindset. Having access to God on a level no one else had, they wanted to keep that access exclusive. This mentality mirrors how scarcity can drive consumer behavior. Companies like SUPREME have used the idea of scarcity to tap into consumers’ desires to influence their purchasing decisions. If something is hard to get, it must be valuable, and they feel compelled to possess it. (John 10:10; 2 Corinthians 9:8; Philippians 4:19).
Gatekeepers of Exclusivity
Romans 9:30-32 (NASB): “What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works.”
The Jewish believers in Jesus acted as gatekeepers, checking for heritage as a pre-qualifier for belonging. However, Paul emphasizes that this exclusivity was wrong. Jesus died so that the door to God would become open to all who believe. He made it clear that though the road to the door is narrow, anyone who walks through it becomes part of God’s family. God was expanding His family to include all who, by faith, follow Jesus.
The Desire to Belong
Romans 9:25-26 (NASB): “As He says also in Hosea, ‘I will call those who were not My people, “My people,” And her who was not beloved, “beloved.”‘ ‘And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, “You are not My people,” There they shall be called sons of the living God.'”
The desire to belong is deeply ingrained in our human existence. We long to be part of a family, both physically and spiritually. However, our selfishness and greed often lead us to fight to keep others out, fearing that we might lose what we have. But the love of Christ is not scarce; there is plenty of room in His family for all who desire to be part of it.
God’s Inclusive Love in Scripture
The inclusiveness of God’s love is beautifully depicted in the Scriptures. In Romans 10:12, we are reminded that there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him. Galatians 5:24 urges us to belong to Christ Jesus by crucifying our selfish desires. God’s love extends to all believers, transcending any human divisions.
Applying the Lessons
Here are some ways to apply what we have learn.
Embrace God’s inclusive family: Recognize that God’s love knows no bounds and actively embrace people from diverse backgrounds into our faith communities.
Let go of exclusivity: Release any preconceived notions of superiority based on heritage or background and approach other believers with humility and acceptance.
Fight against selfishness and greed: Resist the urge to hoard God’s love and blessings for ourselves, but rather share and extend them to others generously.
Foster unity: Seek to build unity within the body of Christ, celebrating and valuing the diversity of gifts and perspectives.
Practice unconditional love: Extend love and acceptance to all those who seek to be part of God’s family, treating them with kindness and respect.
God’s love knows no bounds. He invites all who believe in Jesus to be part of His family, regardless of their background or heritage. We must let go of exclusivity, embrace diversity, and break down barriers that hinder the inclusion of others. By extending love, practicing inclusivity, and seeking unity, we can create a community that reflects God’s heart for His family. Remember, the love of Christ is not scarce. There is plenty of room for all who desire to be part of it.