A few years ago when we went to Boston we repeatedly checked out the Trip Advisor reviews of the place we were going to. I was able to pour over photos of the room and see where the hotel was situated in the city. I like to know where I’m going and have at least a rough idea of what is waiting for me there. The Genesis 12 account of Abram leaving his home town is the opposite of our trip to Boston. Abram had no idea where he was going. The Lord said to Abram..
Go from your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. [Genesis 12:1]
It’s really impressive that Abram goes. He obeys. He walks away from everything in order to walk with God. That’s often how our Christian life begins. With enthusiasm, adventure and trusting Him completely. The problem comes as we walk a bit and things start to get unpleasant. Abram encounters a famine and the prospect of entering Egypt with an attractive wife fills him with fear. He decides it’s time to take control of the situation back from God and tell a lie to save himself from harm.
say you are my sister that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake. [Genesis 12:13]
Abram’s trust wobbles and he thinks that he’d do a better job than God at saving himself. This is always our problem. We think we know best and are in a better position than God to look after ourselves. The good news of this story (and the entire Bible) is that even though Abram is unfaithful to God, God remains faithful to him. God’s promise to bless Abram is not tied up in how Abram performs. Abram becomes Abraham. His elderly wife becomes Sarah and they are ‘blessed’ with a son. As his family tree unfolds there is another unlikely birth many years later as Mary (a virgin) becomes pregnant! Her Son also left His Father’s house and stepped out in obedience to God. Unlike Abram though, Jesus remained faithful. He proceeded where Abram wavered. Rather than grabbing hold of the steering wheel himself, Jesus surrendered completely to God’s way.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. [Philippians 2:8]
I need to trust in Jesus ability to spare my life. His obedience at The Cross has guaranteed my future home and so I no longer need to manipulate the people around me in order to get the life I need. I’m free to bless them rather than bully them. I constantly feel the temptation to ‘save’ myself. To cover up my real identity in order to spare myself discomfort or embarrassment. We’re masters at self protection. Control freak kings. It’s why we filter our photos before posting them online, it’s why we love Sky+ and it’s what Build A Bear Workshop is promoting among kids. You can be in control. Save yourself from anything you don’t like.
Christian identity is about leaving home. Departure from every attempt to protect myself, save myself and create an identity for myself. Only by finding our home in Jesus will we be free from the need to control or manipulate the people (or situations) around us. We can bless people rather than bully them because in Jesus – we have everything we need.