Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

A Differentiated People

God called the Israelites out from among the general human populace to become s a special, a differentiated people. They were to marry exclusively within their own people. They were to have very limited dealings with others in order to insure their remaining a unique people. What was the result of all this favoritism on the part of God? It was exactly what we might expect: the other folks feared and hated the Israelites. Animosity between Jew and Gentile became a hallmark of the Old Covenant. When Jesus came, what did Paul say was one of the results of His redemptive work (Ephesians 2)? It was to once and for all do away with the separation between Jew and Gentile. To eliminate the stigma of being not part of the differentiated people. To do away with the self-righteousness and self importance associated with feeling favored by God. In other words to bring about the equality of status which was so lacking under the Old Testament arrangement. The God who is proclaimed to be no respecter of persons could not permanently operate under a system of differentiation based on birth or circumstances.


Many might be tempted to counter that God now differentiates based on religious affiliation. In their minds, Christians are now God’s chosen people, the ones he favors with eternal life. But how is my Christianity any less a matter of birth and circumstances than the Jewishness of the Jew was under the Old Covenant? If I had been born outside western civilization, my chances of being a “Christian” would be minimal. We kid ourselves when we think that “Christianity” is not culturally induced in western society.


The above reasoning is why I cannot accept a new differentiated people as part of the New Covenant. God had a special people once and the results were not what God promised through Christ. A new "chosen" would only perpetuate animosity and self righteousness. The elimination of a chosen group means that the old notion of evangelism and conversion has no place in the new spiritual order. No one has to be like me to be accepted by God. There are no longer “ins” and “outs”. The church as an institution of the chosen ones cannot be a part of God’s relationship with mankind.


The elimination of a differentiated people opened the door for a unity and “oneness” of all mankind, which is the hallmark of mysticism as taught and practiced by various religious groups throughout history. The idea that men are not really separated from one another or from God and His creation are common threads in these various mystical interpretations. What happens to one happens to all. The fate and experience of mankind is a collective thing. My joy is the world’s joy and my sorrow belongs to everyone. How different this is from our usual assumption that I can prosper without regard to others. Or from the standard prayer for God to protect me and mine and let the rest of the world be damned if necessary.


Since mankind has been re-united in Christ, when we engage in violent conflict with other people, we are really warring against ourselves, since we are all one. The idea of us and them is an old eschatological notion, harking back to the Old Covenant arrangement. Continued reliance on so called holy wars and other acts of redemptive violence denies the completed work of Christ and its efficacy in transforming mankind. We either embrace a new paradigm in dealing with the world’s ills or the message of comprehensive grace and the unity of mankind under Christ becomes a mockery. Those of us who claim to understand what God has really done in Christ face a great challenge in this respect. Our instincts have been honed by a lifetime of exposure to the old eschatological thinking, which relied on legalism and threats to restrain but not transform men. Even though history amply demonstrates the futility of this approach, we still tend to fall back on what we have been conditioned to accept as logically true.


The old eschatology says mankind is basically bad and needs to be curbed in its sinful tendencies. Restraints must be applied by society, and force and violence are necessary under this thinking. The new eschatology demands a completely different picture of humanity. Undesirable human behavior has to be explained, not because of a basic flaw in the creatures made in God’s image, but rather in terms of mistaken assumptions and a false impression of ultimate reality. This may sound like psychological mumbo jumbo to some, but I see no other conclusion to explain where we are and why we still waiting collectively to reap the full benefit of a re-united humanity.



FaceBook connection