I’ve told Jud that he married one of the last perfect women in America. I hate to shop. I love to cook. And I love sports. I married a Minnesota Viking fan. For some insane reason, we got married during the playoffs. Those were the days when Minnesota was winning….
Yesterday, I totally expected the Broncos to win–and not just because we live in Colorado. Secretly (although not secret anymore), I always root for the NFC team; but I really thought the Seahawks were the underdogs. I just hoped they’d make a game of it. I was as shocked as everyone else in my state when Seattle blew-out Denver. However, the snacks I made saved the day!! Homemade guacamole, taco dip, Irish nachos (made with the healthier alternative sweet potatoes). Snacks definitely salvage a dreary game!
So, today as I look over all the disappointed Facebook posts of my neighbors and work on the Bible study on Romans that I’m doing, I see a correlation of what Paul communicated. The Jews of Paul’s day felt betrayed by God when the Gentiles were welcomed in to the promises they thought were only for them. According to Facebook, Bronco fans believed winning the Super Bowl was their destiny. Someone had to lose and when it was us, we feel the sad let-down. The shame of the team spreads to the whole state. For better or worse, we take on the identity of our team.
How often have I believed myself invincible … Believed that I could do no wrong … Believed that ‘if God is for us, who could be against us?’ … Believed that ‘The God of angel armies is always by my side’ (Chris Tomlin song). I think my focus is wrong–just as falsely believing who wins or loses a football game has spiritual implications of the worthiness before God of a particular team.
Studying Romans for the first time in many years reminds me that God is the center of the universe. He’s not always by my side; I (hopefully) am on His. Often, I take the ball and run with it; essentially saying, ‘God, I’ve got it from here.’ Then when the play doesn’t work out, I turn to God, perplexed. How could the plan fail? I thought it through and it made sense! The Jews in Paul’s day seem to wonder the same thing. They thought they had God’s plan all worked out, and they win. They had lived hundreds of years in that belief.
Then God goes and welcomes the Gentiles into the fold.
Their covenant fold.
Their exclusive fold.
Now, as part of the ‘Gentile’ group, I’m grateful. But, I also relate to the feelings of the Jews. I’m part of the church group too. The modern day ‘chosen people’ group. And we haven’t changed much from Paul’s day. Once we understand our privilege, we don’t want to share with outsiders–unless they look like, act like or think like us. Or unless they know their place … beneath us. Paul, in Romans, tries to unite the two camps. He tries to show the Jews that God’s plan never changed. He quotes all the prophets and Moses to show them. And not just in Romans. He threads that theme all through his letters. God foretold it all, but the Israelites didn’t want to see the weaknesses within themselves that God also foretold.
We don’t want to look at those weaknesses either. Sometimes, just like in football, we underestimate our opponents. Sometimes we believe too confidently in our ‘golden child’ status. Sometimes it’s just time for another to win. Can we let that happen without feeling betrayed? Can we let that happen without making excuses? Can we let that happen and still believe we are ‘chosen’? Can we let that happen, still believe we are ‘chosen’; but at the same time believe the other is ‘chosen’ too?
Some heady Monday morning quarterback thoughts. I think I’ll ponder those things as I eat some leftover guacamole.
Have you felt betrayed by God? Have you seen God bless people you thought unworthy? How can you expand your view of God’s fold to allow others equal footing?