Then God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery;” (Exodus 20:1-2)
It is not our favorite thing to admit, but we have no control over who our God is. God is who God is and God decides how to exercise that truth. God always initiates and goes first. We are always the result and called on to respond. But while our response may determine much about how we understand life and our part in it, our response will never change the truth about who our God is. Regardless of what we decide, God has already decided to be our God.
Much of American religion struggles with this. We are presented choices and forced to make a decision. Is God our God or not? If we choose wrong and declare that God is not our God, we are told that God will reject us and damnation is our destiny.
The Bible tells a different story. God comes to the people of Israel because they need a God who will set them free. God does that and then, while they are wandering in the wilderness as a band of former slaves with no place to call home, God declares that God is God and doesn’t consult with them first to see if that’s OK. God just states the truth and that makes it so.
In Jesus, we see that same God continue to operate out of that same identity and promise. People rebel and reject Jesus and try to figure out how to take charge of their own destiny. They live as though God’s choice to be our God is an optional reality – just because God says it doesn’t mean that they have to agree that it is so. They have forgotten the basic principle from which the world began: God says, “…” and it becomes so.
This week we begin a four week series focusing on the ten commandments and God’s direction about how people who recognize the truth that God is God will live. But before God offers even one command, God starts with a truth: God is our God. You are God’s people. And that is the essence of the Good News that scripture wants us to know.