[Note: This blog was one of a few that was saved from a congregational website cleaning.]
In Matthew:3:8-10 gives a rather surprising statement from John the Baptist that hits close to home for me: “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Coming from a world where it was a big deal to be a son of Abraham, this statement shows that grace is far more important than race, a reminder that we could all use from time to time.
Paul himself makes a similar point in this elegantly worded passage from Romans:9:22-24: “What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?” Again, we see here that Paul makes the distinction plain not between Jews and Gentiles, by race, but based on whether someone is the recipient of God’s grace as a repentant believer.
Strikingly, this particular sentiment is also to be found in Isaiah:56:6-7, in an oracle given by God Himself about the blessings given to believing Gentiles: “Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Eternal, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Eternal, to be His servants–everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant–even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Even in the prophets, the message is clear that being accepted by God is a matter of belief and not a matter of ethnic origin.
There are far more passages one could go to but time fails (Psalm 87, 117, Galatians:3:26-29, to name but a few). What are the important takeaways we can gain, though, from these brief passages? For one, grace is far more important than race. It is far more important that we have God as our heavenly Father than it is for us to come from an illustrious human ancestry. The blessings that God gives to the children of Israel and the far more important blessings of salvation are given to those who are children of Abraham in spirit and not merely in flesh. Let us learn from this, and apply ourselves to being faithful and obedient children of God.