27 June 2013Deuteronomy 7:6-11
“It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you – for you were the fewest of all peoples” (v. 7)
Deuteronomy has a lot to say to people who feel insecure and outnumbered. Most scholars think that the core of this book was written at a time when the Jewish people were struggling to become more independent from the mighty Assyrian Empire. So it was important for the people to remember God's love for them and their distinctive loyalty to God.
All the traditions, teachings and laws which made the Jewish people so different from the other peoples and cultures around them were ways of marking this relationship with God. Keeping all the traditions was about keeping the people holy - set apart for God.
The difficult verses which come just before today's passage (Deuteronomy 7:1-5) make this sense of difference very clear and are not easy reading in the rich, diverse culture of Britain today. Verse 7, however, speaks more directly to us - just because you are different do not think that makes you any better than the people around you.
God loves you because God loves you, that is all. And God has done great things for you because of that love. So all the 'commandments, statues and ordinances' (verse 11) found in the book of Deuteronomy are nothing more than a way of life which responds to that faithful, powerful love of God.
When I was a university chaplain I often asked myself what was different about the chaplaincy from all the other departments in the university. Chaplains go into places where they are seen as different people who are doing something rather strange. It is easy to start feeling insecure and outnumbered.
In the Bible God's people spent most of their time being outnumbered and had to learn to live with this. Christians in Britain today are having to learn again what it is like to be in a minority. Perhaps the book of Deuteronomy can help us with this.
- How do you think a Christian way of life is different from any other way of life today?
- If Christians are a minority in our society today do you think they ought to stand out more? Why? And if so, how?
- How can you live life as a response to God's love?