For the next two-and-a-half months, we are going to explore the theme of faithfulness in the 10:30 am worship service. While there is always a theme of faithfulness to every worship service, this series is going to explore examples of individual faith, corporate faith, prophecy, and tools to help in developing faithfulness. The goal by the end of the two-and-a-half months is to understand how you can develop your faithfulness to be stronger.
This Sunday we start the series looking at the “Father” of the faith, Abraham. The call of Abraham is both simple and profound. It is simple in that God is very direct and clear in what he is expecting from Abraham and profound in that God is ultimately calling Abraham to go to a land that he had no knowledge of. This meant that he had to risk everything, more than that as he found when he arrived. God did not send him to an uninhabited part of the world, but probably one of the most established important parts of the time, the land of Canaan, a place that was already an important area of barter and commerce because of being the prime trade route for Egypt.
The faithfulness that is described in Genesis is a two-way relationship between Abraham and God. God follows through with protection and safety for Abraham as he makes his move into the new land and Abraham keeps his promise by taking the first action in his new home to build an altar to God. With the establishment of the altar and the community, Abraham, as an old man, begins work on this new civilization based in faithfulness to God, of which he is the prime example.
The Hebrews text lifts up Abraham’s call and uses his life as an example for the early Christians, showing that when Abraham kept his faith God kept his promise. The relational aspect to faithfulness becomes essential to the life that is to follow, for when Abraham kept his faithfulness, God followed with his promise. However, it is important to note that when God follows, it is not a “Reward” as we understand. The modern rationale of “if I am a good person and stay faithful to God; God will make my life easier” is not at all the gist of what is going on. In fact, there is no sense in the story that God is going to make Abraham’s life better or easier; rather, it is that when Abraham is faithful, God will provide him with his needs.
So we see that out of trust, Abraham is able to walk away from everything he knew in order to seek faithfulness to God. In his pursuit, he accepts that he will have to put behind his life and commit to the new one with utter and unquestioning trust that God will follow through with his promises. Hebrews uses this as an example of what our Christian lives ought to be like, giving ourselves over to Christ, trusting in a life that is beyond the trappings of this world.
The difficult part for us is that the Glory, which we are promised, is not something that is reached immediately. In fact, the Glory is something that we accept of pure trust. This is where faithfulness becomes our guide, for when we accept our calls fully we recognize and accept that we are no longer living for ourselves and begin the difficult process of living for God. This means that we often find a great struggle in seeking what is right, what is wrong, and most of all what God is calling us to do.
As you prepare for worship this week, ask yourself if you could do as Abraham did; could you leave everything to follow God. And if your answer is no, why?
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen