God abandons us?

“So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired” (Romans 1:24a, NLT).

Reading the Bible is easy, right? Except when we read things into it that it doesn’t really say. We have to be careful to remember the context, audience, culture, language, which is constantly changing, and other factors we may not even be aware of. We also have to remember our own culture, context, upbringing, experiences and prejudices, all of which color how we perceive what’s being said. It’s good to keep in mind the famous words of Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride): “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

When we read this verse, we think it means God writes off anyone who commits a sin. That’s it, I’ve had it with you, out of my sight, you filthy rotten scoundrel. Or words to that effect. But God is not like us and verses like this are not an excuse to judge, belittle or arrogantly feel superior to anyone. We have all sinned. Christ died for everyone. No one is better than anyone else, because at the foot of the cross we are equal. God doesn’t automatically abandon sinners—if he did, we’ll all be out on the street. He does give us a lot of room to exercise our freedom to do what we want, but he still loves us, still works in our lives and I believe, never gives up on anyone. We don’t know all the answers, but if you believe God is love and believe in his grace and mercy, you must believe he won’t abandon any of his children, but will do anything in his power (and that’s a lot of power!) to bring them home.

God chose us

“But you are not like that [disobedient], for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9, NLT).

I have two kids, a boy and a girl. I didn’t get to choose them or anything about them, their genders, what they would look like, who they would be. They were gifts and I couldn’t have chosen better if I’d had the chance. They are both delightful young adults now and I love them dearly.

The Father of all did choose us. We are his children by choice. Even though this verse is directed at believers in some foreign provinces, who were at one time Gentiles, salvation is open to all. That’s how they became believers, after all. God’s chosen generation is not an exclusive club, though some have read this verse that way. God’s chosen includes everyone, because everyone is included in the forgiving work of the cross.