So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. Genesis 13:1
So Abram said to Lot, “Let’s not have any quarreling between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine, for we are brothers. Is not the whole land before you? Let’s part company. If you go to the left, I’ll go to the right; if you go to the right, I’ll go to the left.” Genesis 13:8-9
Abram had been discovered as a liar in Egypt, in regards to his true relationship with Sarai. After Pharoah became aware that the two were married, rather than siblings, he forced them out. Abram took Sarai, his belongings, and Lot with him. Abram had become very wealthy during his time in Egypt. (Thanks to Sarai) We are told that Lot had gained many riches as well. With both men having had livestock that needed a fair amount of land, problems ensued. After a time, disputes arose between the two men’s herdsmen.
Abraham saw the potential for bad blood with his nephew, so he suggested that they part ways. He figured there was enough land to satisfy them both, and gave Lot first choice. In whichever direction Lot chose to travel, Abram would go the opposite. Lot set out toward the east and the plains near the Jordan, which were well watered. His tent was pitched near Sodom. Abram lived in the land of Canaan.
The Lord then told Abram to look around him – North, South, East, and West. He promised that the land, as far as Abram could see, would be given to him and his offspring. Further, Abram was promised that his offspring would be like the dust of the Earth, or too many to count. Abram’s tent was moved to Hebron, where he set up an altar to God in thanks.
This is the story of two men who develop conflict. This is the first description, in the scriptures, of how such conflict (man versus man) is to be handled.
Respectfully nip conflicts in the bud…Abram saw conflict approaching. Though it had not yet arrived, he sought to end it before it began. He went to Lot and, respectfully, expressed his concerns. He then stated that perhaps it would be best if they parted company. In that way, each of them would have what they required and the relationship would remain intact. (How many men, Christian or otherwise, would do that today? I suspect very few.)
Walk by faith, not by sight…Lot chose the east, the land of the plains of Jordan. He chose the area because of the water and proximity to Sodom. It mattered not that he left his uncle the land that was dry. It mattered not that Sodom was well-known for its wickedness. He sought to increase his wealth, and his selection would have given him such an opportunity. Lot was not described as a wicked man, himself. We do get the impression that he was willing to abide with and suffer others sinful deeds if he would profit. Abram showed no discontent with being left the drier land. He did not heckle or bargain. He accepted Lot’s choice, as he said he would. He had to have known that he, too, could gain more wealth in the land Lot had chosen. Yet, he had faith that God would see to the needs of he and his family. (If you are anything like me, you know many more Lots than you do Abrams. Good men put up with all manner of evil in search of the almighty dollar.)
Have confidence in God’s promises…After Lot had left, God promised that all the land surrounding Abram would belong to him and his offspring. Abram and Sarai were an older couple, with no children. It would have been easy to laugh at the idea that he would have innumerable offspring, especially at his age. But, what did he do? He believed. He had every confidence that God would keep every promise made. He established his altar, and gave thanks. He expressed joy and gratitude for things that had yet to happen. (And are there any men who would have this type of faith? Let me know when you stop laughing.)
Finally, keep in mind that today is the day of Pentecost. In the Old Testament, Jews knew this as the Feast of Weeks. (A sacred day when no work is to be done. It is a day to express gratitude for the abundant wheat harvest.) Christians know this to be the day the Holy Spirit filled the bodies of over one hundred men and women after Christ’s death. The Holy Spirit gave them knowledge and confidence to spread the Good News of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. In essence, it was the beginning of the church. The goal of the church was, and is, to add to the dust, or offspring, promised to Abram.
Being referred to as a child of Abraham (Abram) is a compliment to most Christians. Abram is the father of the Hebrews who would be given land that we now know as Israel. This man originally came from a town that worshipped pagan idols. What reason did he have to leave his father’s house and religion? What reason did he have to leave all that he knew? There was none but faith. He was not perfect, by any means. (See previous blog) He made mistakes, but he believed. He accepted the spirit of God, as disciples would years later, and followed where it led.
Isn’t that what we are supposed to do? Aren’t we supposed to take the “word of God written on our hearts” and do something with it? How often do Christians follow the Spirit’s lead? How much more frequently do they expect the Spirit to follow theirs?
Too many times, we seek fault in others because we enjoy conflict. We are selfish and greedy. As long as there is something in it for us, we accept hatred and wickedness. We are self-righteous and expect to have our way. When that doesn’t happen, we feel persecuted.
Is that where the Spirit leads you? Because the spirit inside me leads me to come up with compromises that benefit everyone, avoiding conflict wherever possible. It leads me away from greed. It gives me the courage to stand up to those who would place profit over people. It strengthens my faith to know I am not who I was. I am confident that I can encourage and support others, because I feel encouraged and supported.
The spirit inside me, the spirit of love, demands to be given away. I obey and give it to as many as I can. Because it was given to me.
Crucifixion and Resurrection
“You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
John 13: 13-17
***** Life or Resurrection? *****
Before this blog begins its full journey through the Christian faith, I feel I need to address this question. In truth, this is the fundamental divide between many of us. I, as a Christian, have found myself at odds with many non-believers. That would be expected, right? However, I also find myself at odds with many Christians. This, I believe, is due to how we answer the question above.
We all know the story, no? Jesus, born of a virgin, came to Earth to teach the ways of the Father. His ministry was a short one. Conflicts between He and the Pharisees about what was Holy, and who was Holy, led to his trial. Conviction and crucifixion followed. On the third day after being sealed in a tomb, He arose. This resurrection will be shared by any who believe in and follow Him. Salvation given freely. Sacrifice made by Him, yet for us.
What is my issue here?
Well, here goes. My issue here is that I think too many people, especially Christians, forget His life.
Anyone who has read, or even skimmed through, the Bible knows that the resurrection is an extremely important part of Christian history. About the only thing to rival it, in the New Testament, is the virgin birth. I mean…what is more important to a Christian follower than the fact that Christ was born (to be our savior) and that Christ died (to solidify that salvation)?
However, it is also very clear that nearly every word out of Jesus’ mouth was a mandate on how to live. He told countless parables about how to become a better person. Those who would judge another, were warned that the very same judgement would befall ourselves. Those who would take up a sword against another, were warned that they, too, would become victims of the same. We were taught to treat the poor with dignity and respect. We were to feed them if they suffered of hunger, provide water for the thirsty. We were to turn the other cheek to any who may persecute us. We were to receive strangers with the same love that God has for us. We were to be good stewards of our money, without worshipping it. He walked, miles and miles, to teach us…to be good to one another. That’s the message, in a nutshell.
It is amazing to me that this is overlooked. In all four gospels, the overwhelming bulk of the narrative is Jesus’ life. That, in no way, takes away from the importance of his death and resurrection. On the contrary, it add context for it. His life is what makes His death (and the victory over it)…More. This man, of kind and gentle spirit, led a life that God would be proud of. He led a life, that we as followers, should mimic.
The idea of the resurrection appeals to us, naturally. We are human beings. And humans love nothing more than getting something for free. It’s like winning Power Ball, right?! Jesus came to us, and died for us. If we believe this is so, we are granted eternal life. It is just so….easy. We didn’t have to do anything. Who wouldn’t want the millions without buying the ticket? What could be better?
I’ll tell you what could be better. Hold on to your Bibles, because this will make me sound like a radical!
Christians following Christ would be better.
*Don’t just hear the stories…live them.
*Don’t cast stones from your glass house.
*Don’t avert your eyes from the hungry and homeless.
*Don’t lie, cheat, or steal.
*Don’t repay persecution with persecution.
*Don’t regurgitate Bible passages, regurgitate LOVE!
Don’t believe me?
“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”
John 14: 23-24
“My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
Luke 8: 21
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13: 34-35
***** So,…Life or Resurrection? *****