In Romans 11:2-7 (click to read), Paul is helping us to understand exactly where Israel falls into the new covenant. As I read about that “fierce loyal minority” that existed in the time of Elijah, I couldn’t help but question my own loyalty to the Lord. Paul describes this loyal minority as “holding on, not because of what they think they’re going to get out of it, but because they’re convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing them. If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago.”
So the question is this, what do we do when the going gets tough? Ready for some honesty with yourself? I think sometimes it becomes so easy to think that the Christian life is going to be a bed of freshly picked wildflowers just waiting for us to frolic in. But do you remember Jesus always challenging people to “count the cost”? He challenged people in this way because he truly understood the cost of really following after God. If we walk where Christ leads us, we WILL walk into hardship – there is no way around that. But I have found that one can easily manufacture a “Christian walk” that is without hardship. This is done by ignoring the calls of God on ones life and pursuing your own way. Don’t believe me? Listen to what Paul says about the Jews who tried to do the same thing in the time of Elijiah: “When Israel tried to be right with God on her own, pursuing her own self-interest, she didn’t succeed. The chosen ones of God were those who let God pursue his interest in them, and as a result received his stamp of legitimacy. The “self-interest Israel” became thick-skinned toward God.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to end up thick skinned toward my Lord. But I don’t think that this section Israel set out to separate themselves from God. They just tried to build a relationship on the wrong foundation: one of self-interest. And if we are totally honest with ourselves, it can be quite difficult to do anything in todays culture without letting self-interest seep into it. We ALL tend to be selfish people that want what we want when we want it… There is an old Roger Miller song that says it best, “I don’t like to do things I don’t like to do, I just like to do just what I please! And if that pleases you, we can make music…” Well it doesn’t please the Lord… So this is my prayer for today:
Lord we need your more that we even realize… As I read about the fiercly loyal minority, I hunger to be a part of it. But I realize, Lord, that I can’t seem to do anything without self-interest creeping in. Please help me to kill that old man in me that wants me to focus on me and not on YOU… Please don’t allow me to become thick skinned towards you and your will. As Israel was, I am convinced of your grace and your purpose in choosing me. Thank You Lord for this. Please reveal in me anything that is not loyal to you and help me to eliminate it from my life. Because that I know that I cannot do anything without you. Lastly Lord, I would invite you in to pursue your interest in me… What do you want; what do you see; what do I truly need today? Father, thank you for Jesus, it’s in HIS name I pray.
Be blessed my friends, and may God count you as a part of the Fiercly Loyal Minority!