My People

Sometimes, I find it difficult to write, not because I don’t know what I want to say, but because there’s too much to say. So, let’s talk about relationships. As a species, we’re not especially known for our capacity or willingness to get along. All of us have a survival instinct that no longer serves us very well. We’re skeptical, distrustful, prone to jump to conclusions, easily angered, and aggressive. Do you doubt it? Then just look at how “special” we view people like Gandhi or Martin Luther King or Mother Theresa of Calcutta or the Dalai Lama. We are often shocked when someone behaves against our human “type.” All of us want intimate relationships, but, as a people, we’re rather ill-suited for sustaining one. For us humans, it’s all about who holds the power.

Enter God. Remember that we are incapable of comprehending God. Our minds can’t grasp the concept of existence outside of time, let alone some One who is the very ground of that existence. We can’t even talk intelligently about God, because our language is stuck in space-time experience and our brains are spatio-temporally determined. Not only can we not “figure out” God, we couldn’t even fully comprehend what God has revealed to us about Him/Herself. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but I’ve steadfastly refused to use personal pronouns when referring to God. Our language has gender; God has none. So saying “God Herself” is just as bad as saying “God Himself.” Both are meaningless. Human language utterly fails when trying to talk about God.

Yet, we are not wholly ignorant. Somehow, that God has succeeded in translating knowledge about God’sself into human terms. Although pitifully inadequate, our God language is not totally devoid of meaning. We can’t perceive God with our senses, but we can experience God’s presence in nature and history. We recognize the phenomenon of inspiration. Like it or not, we do recognize God’s fingerprints on our spatio-temporal world. And, through the lens of Faith, we can grasp that none of this — none of us — would be here unless God had allowed the “not God” (creation) to come into existence. In this recognition, we can come to a Great Truth about God: that God isn’t greedy about his Divinity. Rather, in essence, God is a giver. God’s gift is what we humans call “grace.”

Think about it even more deeply . . . God gives to all the universe (ourselves included). And just what is all this spatio-temporal “stuff” that God gives? It’s God’sself given in a way that we humans can receive it. What God gives is the gift of Self. We call that gift of self “love.” What or Who is God? God is love. And let’s get this perfectly straight before we go any farther: God is a “Who” and not a “What.” To imply that the Source of consciousness in the universe is Itself unconscious is patently absurd (although obviously what we experience as consciousness is only analogous to God’s Consciousness). Love involves a conscious decision to give oneself to another in relationship. So God gifts God’sself to us in relationship. And the way that God has chosen to enter into this loving relationship with us is, in itself, a revelation. God is not selfish; nor is God interested in power, wealth, or greatness whatsoever.

When God chooses to manifest love to us, God chooses to love the unlovable. God chose to love the people of the twelve little bronze-age tribes of slaves who called themselves “Israel” and God entered into a special relationship with them. God offered them a covenant with all the trappings of the time and culture in which these people lived. We’ve already given the essence of the covenant: “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” But there’s much more. God will care for this people and, in return, they will adopt a standard of conduct (the Law) that will mark them as a people and set them apart from all others. Far from being some random imposition of rules from the hand of a divine tyrant who wants to squash people at the first sign of disobedience, the Law is the people’s response to the invitation from a loving God — a response that the people hope and pray will make them ever more worthy recipients of the great gift their God has given them. And, the Law was carved on stone tablets — tablets representing the earth — and calling on the earth as a witness to the covenant and to stand as witness against those people who would faithlessly break it.

The consummation of the covenant is done with blood. For the ancient peoples, life is in the blood. So after hearing the words of the Law and agreeing with all their hearts to keep it, the people are ready to become “blood brothers (and sisters)” with their God. As a sign of their God sharing God’s life with them, and they, in turn, sharing their lives with their God, the priests sprinkled blood on the altar and then on the people. Thus it was that the covenant was sealed between God and God’s people: a blood covenant, a covenant of life.

So, what can we say about being “God’s people”? Should we be proud of being God’s chosen people? I think not. God seems to have chosen the most miserable and powerless of people in the most backward time in the history of a pathetic little planet riding around a small, nondescript sun somewhere off in a corner of a mediocre galaxy. Should there be a multiverse, you can be sure that our universe is a particularly insignificant one. So, if God loves you, rejoice!

One thought on “My People

  1. I completely agree that in our day to day human experience we are not able to comprehend God and then there are moments of inspiration or experiences that can happen when you are meditating and that can be taking a walk or listening to music when you become aware.

    I do not agree that God chooses to love. God is unconditional love and each one of us are individual manifestations of that love. Too many block the essence of who we are which results in our physical self being violent, selfish etc.

    The conclusion that Israel is the chosen people is a limiting belief. All are chosen and all are guided by natural laws. It is insane to think a person can kill another or destroy part of this earth and be in alignment with the right of all to live their intentions in freedom and peace. We all have the knowing to honor intuitively natural laws. When the people who commit the most horrific acts against another in the name of some religion they subscribe to, lay down at night there is a part of them saying what you are doing is wrong. I of course do not know this is true, but not being a betting man in the traditional sense would place a big bet on that.

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