ABRAMâ€™S CALL - Week of May 8th
By Judy NicholsMay 8, 2016
In reading about God’s call of Abram in Genesis 12, the thought struck me that his call is not so different from our call when we come to Christ. God said to Abram, "Go from your country, your kindred, and your father’s house to the land I will show you." Abram lived in the city of Ur in Chaldea (modern day Iraq). Ur was a thriving city and apparently Abram’s family was at least moderately wealthy and well-connected. To leave all this behind was to relinquish his identity and security.
When we come to Christ, we receive new life. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come." Whatever we were before Christ, whatever we counted on for our security and significance must be relinquished to make way for this new life. There are numerous calls in the New Testament to "lay aside," and "consider as dead" our old selves and to "put on" the new self in Christ. (See Romans 6:1-7, Ephesians 4:22-24.) We are to take our identity from Him.
Jesus told his disciples that they were not "of the world" but He had chosen them out of the world (John 15:19). And Paul wrote, "Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we eagerly wait for a Savior" (Phil. 3:20). We are called to leave behind the values and ambitions of this world and seek and set our minds on things above (Col. 3:1-2).
Abram was also called to follow God wherever He would lead, not knowing the route or the destination. He was to depend entirely upon God for guidance. Likewise, we are called to relinquish control of our life’s path. This may be more difficult for some – the type A personalities – but I am sure it is not easy for anyone. We all like to think we are in control of our lives and destinies.
None of us, whether in Christ or not, knows where our life’s path will lead us. Indeed, it is God’s mercy that we do not know in advance what hardships and griefs we may have to face. If Abram, the rich city-dweller, had known ahead of time that he and his descendants would be nomads and then slaves for centuries before inheriting the land God had promised, he might well have declined the deal.
God promised some things to Abram, contingent on his obedience, and I believe these also apply to us who belong to Christ. He said, "I will make of you a great nation." To an elderly, childless couple this promise must have seemed downright crazy. Perhaps God knew the incentive to obey would need to be something big. Perhaps God saw in Abram the flicker of faith in that the hope of offspring had not been completely extinguished long ago. For whatever reason, God promised Abram fruitfulness. Jesus said to His disciples, "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain" (John 15:16). When we belong to Christ, take our identity and find our security in Him, and allow Him to lead us, He will see to it that we produce spiritual offspring.
God further promised Abram, "I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing." To know that God would be actively working to make Abram famous would seem to be pandering to his flesh. But God’s purpose in making Abram’s name great was not for his personal gratification but that others might also receive a blessing. In Christ we have received Abram’s blessing (Gal. 3:14) and are called to be a blessing to others, as well (1 Pet. 3:9). He has given us names – friend, children of God, co-heirs with Christ – and will give us a new name hereafter (Rev. 2:17).
God also said, "I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse." This speaks to me of God’s favor. We do not want anyone to treat badly or speak ill of those we love. I am reminded of the parable of the sheep and the goats. Those who ministered/failed to minister to "the least of these my brethren" are judged accordingly (Matt. 25:31-46). We, too, enjoy God’s favor and He takes into account those who honor or dishonor His people. We, too, should be careful not to dishonor one another, and especially our leaders.
And finally, God said, "In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." This looks forward to the coming Messiah through Whom the whole world can now receive the blessing of Abraham. Isaiah said of the Messiah, "It is too small a thing that you should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make you a light to the nations so that My salvation may each to the end of the earth" (Isa. 49:6). I believe God’s intent for us, the church, is to extend His salvation far and wide.
As we follow in the steps of Abram, the man of faith, may we, in finding our identity and security in Christ and following His leading, be fruitful for His kingdom and be a blessing to everyone, everywhere, at all times.
© Judy Nichols 2016