I want to propose that God treats “His people” different than He treats other people. Before I get into it, I need to set the scene and do a little work to show where I’m coming from. I think one of the most common mistakes people make with God is incorrectly assigning Him obligatory acts. We hold God to a standard that He Himself is not holding Himself to and is in no way obliged to meet. We try to stronghold God by putting promises in His mouth, and then pester Him when He doesn’t live up to our manufactured suggestions. I will admit that most of the orders we are demanding God to be faithful to, are for the most part honorable, loving, caring, and good things. These cries and demands for God to act a certain way are coming from sincere and compassionate places in the heart. A lot of times, we have seen or heard of God performing these acts many times before, so we assume He will continue to do so in all situations. I think this is where the misconceptions come in.
We think since we hear or see God doing things for other people, then that automatically means He is bound and must do those things for us. Just for the simple fact of who God is, and who we are as people, it can be a bit concerning for us to tell God what things He must do. Also, I think we confuse God’s grace, with what God has promised He will always do. I think frequently we are witnessing God’s grace being poured out on people, and then just assume that these acts of grace are actually just God fulfilling His end of our contract. We see this as someone doing something, which then forces God to respond in a certain way in order for Him to continue to be faithful. I think sometimes this does happen, where God acts in specific ways to maintain and uphold His promises. However, I think we see God consistently act a certain way, then assume it is because of a promise (although He has never promised He will continue to act that way), and then hold God to this standard of responding to certain things in a certain way, even though He has never said He will always do that. We have become spoiled by God’s grace and take it for granted; and view His gracious acts as necessary acts, negating the concept of grace. This idea of grace is that God does things for us that we don’t deserve, and gives things to us that we don’t deserve. Yet, it happens so frequently that our corrupted minds begin to think that we deserve these provisions from The Lord, and then declare God as wrong or not the holy God He claims to be when He doesn’t give us this grace we don’t deserve. God doesn’t have to give grace, but so often He chooses to. But what does any of this have to do with how God treats “His people”, compared to those who are not?
I first want to explain who I would say are “God’s people” in this context. The people I’m referring to as God’s people, are those people who are followers of Christ and have received the Holy Spirit. I will keep it simple and not get into how God views Israel and the Jews. We have begun to mistakenly apply God’s promises for His people, to all people. It’s my suspicion that we watch God fulfill promises to those who are His people, and then out of act of grace, He sometimes extends those same blessings to people who are not His people. But then we see other people who are not a part of God’s people, not receiving these blessings and somehow feel God is being unjust or unfaithful or unfair. This is a clear example of us holding God to a promise He has never made. He has made a promise to His people and fulfills it, and through grace decides to extend those same provisions to those who aren’t the objects of His promises, but then we think God is wrong for not providing those same blessings to all those who weren’t selected. And then on top of that, we try to force God to take this promise He had specifically made for His people, and apply it to all people and then call Him a hypocrite when He doesn’t adhere to this new promise we have created for Him to follow.
We understand God to be the most loving, caring, and fair being. He doesn’t pick favorites and loves everybody the same. It then seems strange to think that God may actually treat some people better, and listen to some people more than others when He is supposed to love everyone the same and not play favorites. I think this confusion comes about from a misunderstanding of what it means for God to love everybody the same and for Him to not pick favorites. I will only briefly comment on this and not go too far into depth on it.
In a very basic sense, God loves everyone the same since He has sacrificed for everybody. The redeeming power of Christ was made available for any and everyone who professes His resurrection and divinity. God also desires that none should perish, but that all should have eternal life. God’s sacrifice for everyone, and desire for everybody is in a very real way showing His love for everybody. I also think it’s reasonable to believe that God is pursuing the hearts of everybody too, which He does because of His love for everybody. Now for favorites. God doesn’t have favorites since all are saved by the same means, and all will receive the same care and affection and blessings when living in communion with God. God doesn’t have favorites in the sense that He loves anyone more than another, or that he cares for one person’s salvation any more than another’s. He has no favorites in this sense. However, I think He does have favorites in the sense that there are some people who please Him more and that He’s prouder of. I also think there is a sense that He plays favorites by giving some tasks to those He trusts more and has more faith in to fulfill these tasks. So, I think when it comes to God “favoring” His people over other people, we get offended by this when we misunderstand the nature of His promises and what it means for Him to love all people and not play favorites.
Now, a reasonable objection one might have is to ask, why doesn’t God always extend His grace to those outside His promise if He already does it so often? If He is supposed to be seen as love and grace? For the sake of brevity and ignorance on my part, I can only say that I don’t know God’s thoughts and His plans. The only way for me to know those answers would be for me to be God Himself. I understand this is an unsatisfactory and in some ways weak answer, but it’s the best I can do for now. I do however, want to propose one possible reason for why God would treat His people different, and would arbitrarily bestow His grace upon those who aren’t His people.
I think a practical reason for this is because God is showing the world the difference between being in His family and not being in His family. If God treated everyone the same, those in and those not in His family, then there would be no incentive or benefit to be a part of God’s family. If you got all the benefits and blessings as one who “followed all God’s rules and beliefs”, why follow and believe that stuff if you can do your own thing and get the same reward regardless? It would make sense that God would need to reserve His blessings for those who give their life to Him, to show the benefits that ensue from making Him the Lord of your heart. God is using His people to show the world how He longs to bless them, if first they would lose their life for His sake. But one may ask now, why then does God give grace and bless those who aren’t a part of His family?
I would say He does it partly because that is who He is and giving grace is just in His nature, but there is some practicality behind it as well. Blessing those who aren’t the objects of His promises gives them a taste of what it would be like to be within the scope of His promises. It gives them an idea of what life would be like if they let Jesus into their heart. In a crude sense, it’s like a free trial. God says, “Here’s what I can and want to do for you in this world, but if you want the fullness and consistency of Me and My blessings, then you must give Me your soul.” This is a part of God’s recruiting tactics. He uses His family as an example of how He blesses those who love Him, and then gives out teasers to those who are still on the outside. God has a plan and will for everybody and He wishes to bless us beyond our dreams if we would only trust Him and walk in His plan. If God is our creator, then living in His will for our life would have to be the most fulfilling life we can have! For who would know better how the creation should operate than the creator? And what’s His plan for us? That we become holy like Christ and spend eternity with Him. This is why He makes specific promises to those who love Him and are in His family, for there needs to be some benefit to be in His family, and in His family, is when the transformation happens.