Friday, July 19, 2013

The Gentile Problem

"But as for the Gentiles who have believed, we have sent a letter with our judgment that they should abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.” (Acts 21:25)

When we think of Gentiles our first thoughts may not be of us. We may think of a group of people alluded to in the Bible. But that group is us! Gentile means all other people beside the Jews, the chosen people of God. And we have a problem!

Our problem is endemic to human nature. We like to eat a lot. We like to have sex anytime, anywhere. Why else is pornography so popular? And we are fond of worshiping anything we want. Compared to the Jews, we are a lawless bunch. Really!

The Jews were chosen by God to be His people. He gave them the Law. He gave them the Law on their way to freedom, to the Promised Land. These former slaves were the only ones to know The Law. And they were told not to act like the peoples they would be supplanting in Canaan. They didn't always do it but God did send prophets to warn them. And God promised a redeemer, someone to buy their debt from the Law.

This Redeemer is the very Son of God. He was like us but without sin, that is, He never broke the Law. He died for us so that those who would believe may have eternal life. And this includes the Gentiles, you and me! Is it no wonder then that St. Paul, called by Christ to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles, talks a lot about sex and food and idolatry. It's the stuff Gentiles love. And it's the stuff God hates for he did not make us be self-worshipers and that really is what idolatry is all about, putting ourselves before God. But the good news is that upon our realization we are not the people God intended for all peoples to be we are given a new heart to live according to His will. And we are given the Holy Spirit as our Helper. We can live as children of God and not as foreigners alien to the family of God. The Law has not been thrown away but rather written on hearts. No longer is it a yoke burdening us but a yoke carried by a friend. Is it any wonder Jesus said, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."?  (Mt. 11:29) Externally the Law of God reveals God's will and what we do that is opposed to it is indeed sin, lawlessness. But internally, we are being sanctified, made holy by the blood of Jesus, so that as members of God's household, we grow into obedient children.  

Look at your life. Are you a common Gentile? Or all you a child of God?