John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

"Chosen People"

When most of us hear the phrase "Chosen People" we automatically think of the Jewish people -- particularly in the Old Testament. And we mostly think it means "God's Preferred People." But we should stop and ask ourselves what the descendants of Abraham were chosen for.

When God first appeared to Abraham, here's what he said, "Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Genesis 12:1-3).

A very quick, surface-level reading of this text reveals two things.

First, Abraham was chosen to be the father of a great nation. Say what you will, the Jewish nation is a great nation now. From one man and his wife have come millions and millions of descendants. At various times in history they have been great militarily and monetarily. Abraham's name has become great. People who have blessed Israel have typically been blessed, and people who have treated Israel with contempt have typically been cursed.

If you want to include The Church in this now, I won't quibble. The Church is also a great nation, a multitude of people no one could ever count -- like the stars in the night sky or the grains of sand on the seashore. People who bless the church find blessing, and people who treat the church with contempt find trouble.

Second, Abraham was chosen to be a way through which God could bless everyone. As we said in the last post, this is God's deep desire: to bless everyone. It's his default setting. It's what God loves and longs to do. Sometimes he does that directly. Other times he chooses to bless people through other people. This is precisely what Abraham's descendants are supposed to be: a blessing to the rest of the world.

God wasn't just choosing to bless Israel here; he was choosing to bless the world through Israel. Being one of the "chosen people" should never lead to a sense of entitlement. It should lead to a sense of duty.

Again, I say we should include The Church in this. The Church is a vessel through which God has chosen to bless the world. Being part of The Church shouldn't cause you to feel any sense of entitlement or superiority. Being part of The Church means you have been chosen to bless the world around you.

And we don't do that by complaining all the time or acting like bullies on social media. We don't do that by living in isolation, withdrawing from society and condemning the world for acting like the world.

We will bless the world when we get out into it and take the redeeming love of Jesus with us. It's that kind of action that will truly mark us as "Chosen People".