Essentials: Qualified

We have a nasty habit of trying to decide who God should be merciful to. We disqualify people all the time based on our feelings. Israel did that when they couldn't accept God would be merciful to their Roman oppressors. We do that when we can't accept God would be merciful to people we don't like. But let's settle it...

Jesus is the only one who has the authority to decide this matter, and Paul says this about it: "Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13). We are in the business of disqualifying each other from the blessing of God's grace, but we are reminded in Romans 9 not to call God's mercy and compassion toward others into question. 

Here's a statement of faith that change your day: "God is God, and I am not." In other words, the Lord is sovereign -- and He can do what He pleases. With that in mind, here are a few things that stood out to me in Romans 9:

1] It is not our ancestry that makes us acceptable to God (Romans 9:8). We disqualify people based on our prejudices, but scripture makes it clear that the faces of heaven will be filled with people who don't look like me (check out Revelation 7:9) and all kinds of formerly scandalous sinners who have been redeemed by God's mercy. Israel forgot this at the time of Paul and assumed God's blessing could only come to natural born Jews.

2] It is not our place to tell God what to do (Romans 9:14-15). Isn't it funny how as our kids get older, they start to tell us what to do? As they grow up, their minds develop and they learn to think for themselves. They need little reminders from time to time of who is who. I wonder if that's how a sovereign God feels when we get too big for our britches? Do we know better than God? We get into our biggest messes when we try to live as though we were God.

3] Even wicked rulers are subject to the rule of God (Romans 9:17). Pharaoh gets mention here. Remember, he had enslaved God's people (but they would have starved without him). Empires and rulers rise and fall -- each one of them moving us closer to the return of Jesus. Do we trust in princes or do we trust in a sovereign God?

4] We even try to disqualify ourselves (Romans 9:20). I hear it all the time: "God can't forgive a person like me." What we are really saying is that we cannot forgive ourselves. We get hung up on our past and talk ourselves out of the mercy of God. We are so good at disqualifying ourselves from the blessings of God. Here's the thing: God only shows mercy to inadequate, unqualified, scandalous people! The Spirit of God searched the earth for perfect and well-qualified souls -- and he found only One: Jesus. 

So get over yourself. 

God doesn't rescue perfect people. He doesn't call the best and brightest to serve him. He thinks differently than we do: he has opened his mercy to ALL who would trust in Jesus. We wouldn't do that. 

I started this series "Essentials for the Journey" so we could be more equipped to survive in the wilderness. We've talked about the goodness of the Father, the atonement of Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. But have we surrendered ourselves to all that the Lord has done for us? Or do we still think we are God? If anything, I hope this series has reminded us that we cannot survive in this wilderness on our own. If we want to make it, we need to trust God -- the only One who can qualify us to stand before him or serve him.

God is God -- and I am not.