“Israel was holy to the Lord, the firstfruits of his harvest; all who devoured her were held guilty, and disaster overtook them,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 2:3
Israel is described as firstfruits. This is instructive and I wonder why the Israelites didn’t see themselves this way. Throughout the Old Testament, they acted like they had a monopoly on God as his exclusive people. They often overlooked God’s mercy to people like Ruth and Rahab who weren’t born Israelites. These women experienced God’s blessing and came to be included in God’s people when they expressed faith in him. God’s chosen people wasn’t limited to just Israelites, rather they were the first to be chosen.
By adopting an exclusive view of themselves the Israelites denied God’s purposes of being a light to other nations. Perhaps this is one of the reasons they began to worship pagan gods. They lost sight of their God-given purpose and were deceived into blending in with other nations.
The same thing can happen to God’s people today. The church, the body of Christ, is intended to be a light to others but so often we blend in with our culture and value other things more than God. We hang on to the knowledge that we’re chosen as if this excuses us from fulfilling God’s purposes. We’re called to be a source of truth and light to others.
God’s chosen people aren’t limited to the church, any more than it was limited to Israel. We’re the fruit of other people’s evangelistic work and are called to produce more fruit.
Being chosen isn’t an excuse to alleviate the need to be actively pursuing God’s purposes for his church and his world. Rather it’s an incentive to be all God intends.