Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.”
This word to Abraham from the LORD came to him after a time of testing of Abraham’s trust in the LORD – he and his household had to move, lock, stock and barrel, in his old age, to a strange new land, in fact I suspect he wasn’t sure at all where he’d end up.
There is a command in the word – do not be afraid.
There is a reassurance in the word – I am your shield.
There is a promise in the word – I am your very great reward.
The only fitting response to this is to trust the Giver of the word, to believe what is said,
“Abram believed the Lord, and (the LORD) credited it to him as righteousness”.
It’s not to say that Abraham didn’t have any doubts. The text tells us that he asked the LORD for proof,
“But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?”
The LORD accepts his doubts and gives him the reassurance his heart needs. And it comes in an act of worship, albeit a strange one. An act that involves blood and sacrifice, another echo of what Christ would complete on that first Easter,
“It is finished”,
Jesus’ last words from the cross of Calvary, dying and rising to bring the fullness of God’s Word alive.
Abraham had gotten used to building altars to the LORD. He longed to worship God, to be one with him, together with those around him too.
The LORD meets people in worship, and in Christ we are free to come into his presence by faith. Led by his Holy Spirit we are invited to express that faith in love.
Jesus was tempted to give up that call to faith and love. The Pharisees try to get him to go on the run, to put his own safety above the call to Jerusalem and the salvation of the world, the bringing of the kingdom. Personal safety was not something Jesus allowed to get in the way of the mission he was sent for.
“‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day”
The third day was his goal – resurrection! The beginning of a revolution which will in the end bring God’s Kingdom in all its fullness – this kingdom in which the last will be first and the first will be last. This is the ongoing mission in which the Church is now invited to participate in.
How might your faith express itself and help bring the kingdom of God today?
It may not be in a huge journey, like Abraham. But in a sense we all make big journeys. I remember the young woman, crippled by anxiety who for years couldn’t face leaving the house. One day a friend dropped by and offered to take her out, to leave the security of her own prison and cross the threshold into the big bad world. Turns out, with help, the world wasn’t such a bad place after all.
Or the lonely man who one day was invited to accompany a friend to a worship service in church, who’d wanted to do that for ages but couldn’t get there himself, and who now can’t stay away. He has found warmth and acceptance in a faith community that recognises there is a brokenness in all of us. He is being healed of his loneliness and the other ‘stuff’ in his life, and is beginning to live in the flow of God’s generosity and love, serving others where he can. Faith expressing itself in love.
May the God of faith, hope and love, fill you with his transforming life as you put your life in his hands.