God promised to make Abraham into a great nation. God decided because of the continuous evil in the world that Jesus would be sent to earth to demonstrate God loved us more than we could ever imagine. God choosing Israel wasn’t favoritism as only one nation could be chosen by God for the Messiah to be born into. God intended through Abraham to bless all nations (Gen 12:3). It isn’t favoritism when all win.
God proclaimed an unconditional, love relationship with Israel before the Laws were given to Moses. Abraham had a faith relationship with God before the Mosaic Covenant times. God has never demanded obedience to any laws first before establishing a relationship. The Laws were given by God to simply guide Israel morally for their own good. Imagine living in a nation that abided by the Ten Commandments. Parents understand that a relationship based on unconditional love with rules in the best interest of the child is the pathway to intimacy and transformed lives.
Jesus detested the religious of His day who suggested that a relationship with God was based on adherence to a set of rules, thus confusing people about God’s unconditional love for them. The Jews perhaps preferred a supposed position of favoritism because they were first given the Laws. Some Jews maybe wanted to think of themselves as better than the Gentiles rather than believing a special relationship with God was open to all. We all know bigotry. The Pharisees certainly liked being the chosen because it kept them in a job and in power. We today may hold on to certain beliefs, not because they are in the best interest of all, but because they keep us employed.
- The Law only condemns, pointing out our shortcomings, for none can keep the Law perfectly. God’s grace can encourage, giving us peace that God love us despite our imperfections
- The Law cannot forgive, only deter us in the short-run because of the fear of punishment. God’s grace forgives us, knowing there is life after failures
- The Law encourages only obligatory obedience and doing the bare minimum in order to pass. God encourages matters of the heart than can lead to lifelong transformation
- The Law can lead us to false pride because of others’ failures or lesser works than our own. God invites us to accept the shortcoming of others and strive to be our best
God’s love and grace provides comfort to those whose failures afflict their consciences. God does not heap on more hate for constantly falling short. God gives up confidence to continue to pursue holiness despite our regrets. We can be comforted that every act of kindness no matter how small matters to God. God give us hope that it is never too late to start, as God’s accounting system is different thankfully (Mt 20). A priority on God’s unconditional love and grace does not do away with holiness but makes it possible. True intimacy with God inspires us toward life transformations.
Has the fear of God or gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favor conquered battles against self-centeredness or long-standing habitual sins for you? Serving a parent or boss out of respect than obligation empowers us to be our best. Fear-based relationships lead to temporary changes or trying to not get caught. Intimacy inspires. God is no different than human parents. Parents ultimately want their children to understand their unconditional love for them so they might follow their wisdom for their own good. Good deeds are appreciated by God, but our efforts will never be enough in our own mind. Discussing obedience before God’s unconditional love for us is a hopeless journey in achieving a relationship with God and being the kind of people we desire to be. Do we desire to trust God over ourselves? Obedience for our own good will naturally follow, though the journey is different for all.