I heard a beloved rabbi call Abraham and Sarah the first two converts to Judaism, and although I thought it was kind of cute at first, the more I think about it, the more backwards that sounds. Sure, it’s anachronistic, but it’s also wrong.
Abraham and Sarah are not converts to a faith, they are faith, living faith. I need “faith” to be a verb to express what I’m getting at here: we see Abraham and Sarah “faithing” through their lives with God. They are faithful, and all of the faithful are Abraham’s children.
Being Jewish is not a necessary condition for being in covenant with God. Being a child of Abraham, though, is a necessary condition. It’s not a sufficient condition, obviously, since we know Abraham had other children and not all of Abraham’s children are in covenant even though they carry the sign of circumcision. The whole thing actually goes exactly the other way: whether you are ethinically Jewish or not, you have to convert to “Abrahamism”; that’s the goal.
Circumcision means you’re Abraham’s; it doesn’t mean you’re in covenant with God. Ouch. What a hard thing to write. Being Jewish doesn’t mean you’re in covenant with God, either. You cannot get into covenant with God through your DNA.
So now I have to address what the sufficient condition is for being in covenant with God. I’m tempted to say “trust and obey” and break into that song and leave it there, but that’s a cop-out.
You have to believe God is able to fulfill his promises and that he’s faithful enough that he actually will do what he said he will do. You have to believe. Believe. Good news! God is keeping his promises! He’s alive and he’s able and he’s working. Trust him!
And I have to believe that as you trust him, you will learn to obey him; he will teach you how to do that. He will engage in a cosmic game of Hide-and-Go-Seek: but don’t get the roles wrong! He hides, you seek. You hear his laugh, you seek. You find tears, you seek. It’s daylight, you seek. It’s pitch dark, you seek. You feel joy, you seek. You feel overwhelming despair, you seek. You seek him, and you will find that he is right there waiting and revealing and loving, one step ahead, always leading the way.
That’s being a convert to Abraham’s faith. That’s what we all, Jew or gentile, need to be.