Today’s Readings: Psalm 65; Ezra 10:1-17; Matthew 17:22-27; Revelation 21:9-21
At last night’s Sacred Grounds conversation group, we were discussing some of the tensions that are contained within the scriptures themselves. One of these tensions are between those passages that speak of God in universal terms (passages such as today’s passage from Psalm where the psalmist says of God “You are the hope of all the ends of the earth” – Psalm 65:5) and those passages that speak of God in exclusivistic terms (passages such as today’s passage from Ezra where Ezra instructs the people to “separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives” – Ezra 10:11).
So which way is it? Does God love and embrace all people, or does God like some better than others?
A person could certainly pull particular texts out of the Bible to prove one’s point on either side of this debate. Rather than look for a particular text to make my point, I look for what some call the meta-narrative - the larger theme that transcends any particular text and consistently runs throughout the Bible. When I do that, I personally come down on the side of the God who loves and embraces all people.
So where do people get the idea that God is exclusivistic? Often, following situations portrayed in scripture where things have gone horribly wrong and individuals and/or communities feel the need to produce a scapegoat. I can certainly relate to that human tendency since often my first instinct is to blame someone else when things have gone wrong.
So where do you come down in this great debate? Do you see God as one who embraces all, or do you gravitate toward God as One who plays favorites? Til next time…