Continuity! As we revisit the story of Abraham I am reminded that continuity is something that my approach to scripture, and thus my understanding of my relationship with God once lacked.
When we gather as God’s people on Sunday, it should remind us that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. When we sing our hymns, read God’s Word and participate in Communion around the Lord’s Table, we should sense a connection with God’s people globally and historically. That is, we should feel the connection with His faithful around the world as they meet on this first day of the week to worship the same Lord we worship. Beyond that, we should recognize the connection we have with those who have gone faithfully before, from our spiritual parents and grandparents all the way back to the Father of Faith, Abraham.
Breaks in continuity lead to small thinking. When we fail to appreciate our family tree we become incapable of accurately understanding God’s Word. In the first eleven chapters of Genesis, God sets the scene, lays the back drop and frames the picture, so that we can understand the woeful state of humanity despite the best intentions and desires of God. Now in Genesis 12, we are introduced to God’s plan. More than a plan, it is an enacted mission. Here we see the beginnings of what is best described as the Missio Dei, the Mission of God.
It has been firmly established by this point that God made this world and everything in it, and God made it good. But for some hard to explain reason, he left the inmates in charge of the asylum. That’s right human beings were given the keys, and we drove the car straight into the ditch. Every time God pulled us out of the ditch, we found another one. (This really struck our Sunday school class last week when we saw how closely God’s bow in the sky was followed by the vineyard, the hangover and the event in the tent.)
Given the pattern of faithless, reckless, perverse decisions demonstrated by humans, God’s judgment seems a little hazy when He initiates His rescue plan by reaching out to a man. But that is what God does. He reaches out to Abraham, a man brought up believing in many God’s, until God reveals himself as the one true God. Later, as Abraham has become an old childless man with an aged barren wife, God tells them that his plan involves them having as many descendants at there are stars in the sky. (We will gloss over the whole Ishmael sequence for now…hard to explain that one in a children’s Bible.) This seems funny to them, they laugh. They have a child. God laughs and says, “You shall name him laughter – that is Isaac.”
Isaac becomes their pride and joy, and together they become a family reliant and trusting upon God. Continuity says this is the foundation of salvation, families that are reliant upon and trusting in God. This is what changes the world! Not warriors on white horses. Not knights in shining armor. Not political demagogues. God begins his revolution with a family. Today he wants to continue that revolution with your family. So seek to be a family that brings peace, the kind of peace that unites people. Because scripture leads me to believe that families binding together into one big family is the ultimate expression of God’s mission.