No regret

A small reflection on what a word might indicate.

As regards the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their ancestors, for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

‘Irrevocable’… carries such a sense of permanence. I have yet to come to ‘Israel’ and eschatology in my video series, and that will probably be way down the line maybe by the end of next year, but Paul seems to walk a challenging path of centring everything in Jesus, hence only has been one olive tree (not two ‘peoples’) but drops in some encouragement that although there is neither Jew nor Greek / Gentile (eschatological perspective) that there is a big ‘thank you’ from heaven because of the doorway opened for salvation of the world that came through the patriarchs. That is deeply encouraging beyond the Israel scenario – children are so blessed if there can be found a doorway from heaven to earth back somewhere in a generational line. God has wonderful soft-heart… Paul pushes this situation with children and an unbelieving spouse in 1 Cor. 7:

For the unbelieving husband is made holy through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy through the brother. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

God can find a way for inclusion that goes beyond personal faith – personal faith is so important, but we are not the final arbitrators regarding any in/out line!! No way. And Paul with regard to the Rom. 11 passage above is indicating a wonderful extension of grace that covers generations. Once we remove the need to determine ‘who is God’s people?’ we can live with ambiguity and keep the centre as Jesus.

And the word ‘irrevocable’ is somewhat intriguing. It only occurs here in Rom. 11 and again in 2 Cor. 7:

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.

‘No regret’ (ἀμεταμέλητος ametamelētos – translated as ‘irrevocable’ in Rom. 11)… now that might give us a little different approach to the ‘gifts and calling’ on Israel. Maybe Paul is indicating that God has ‘no regret’ in choosing Israel. I kinda think so… and maybe we should take a similar approach to things that have not worked out as they could have. What ‘could / should / might have been’ and did not come through as we thought… no regret. I would do it differently now – for sure!!! – but I am where I am because of all of that journey and into that God is committed to ‘work all things together for good’ – not the author of the failure of Israel, nor my failures / disappointments, but if we stick in there there is much more to come.

Not irrevocable… but definitely not wallowing in ‘what should have happenned’, the future with a ‘no regret’ sign posted on any looking back!! I guess that goes with a God who promises the day to come when there will be not a tear in sight. Gets my vote.

3 thoughts on “No regret

  1. Thank you so much Martin that is radically encouraging to hear like a massive burden lifting off my shoulders anyway!

  2. Thanks Martin, a very encouraging for those of us who suffer moments of 20/20 hindsight.
    Of course now I am so mature I could go back and give my younger self such good advice- as if and not mess it up completely.

    I retyrn periodically to Richard Rohr’s teaching on the two halves of life (Falling Upward). The first half is more about the inward journey and ‘I’ and the second much more about the outward journey and ‘we’ and ‘others’, the life of love. I’m thinking that moving from ‘I’ to ‘we’ is perhaps the task before us all (it is mine), where we need to tip, but I do wonder if much of what we (I) have called church is stuck in the first half of life (maybe you could apply this to nations/structures/companies?) where the church is the kingdom- that’s something to chew on! For sure, if you consider that the current crises are a sign of the end and that increasingly imminent then why move to maturity and the second half? continually postpone it to the future instead as God’s responsibility rather than partner for a better world. You can’t see too far with that view. Not that the first half isn’t needed, but it isn’t the end or the goal and it doesn’t do well to stay there. Surely, we can’t be so mature the end can come? Adolescent maybe.
    The life of love is attractive, but it looks hard to me -tears and pain- If I have a hope of living at least somewhat in it then I can’t do it clothed in the first half(ish) of my life.

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