I Don’t Get It

child-reading A few weeks ago, I was helping out in BLAST, our mid-week kid’s program here at the church. They needed help in my son’s class, so I was there.

During my time there, the story was on trusting God, and talking about Abraham, Isaac and God. After talking about it for a while, our leader asked someone to summarize it. They had done a great job teaching, and so Hudson jumped right up and shared about the story. And then, as he recounted it exactly as it happened (about God asking Abraham to trust him by being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac), Hudson looked confused and then said, “Wait, I don’t get it.”

I think that’s incredibly honest because honestly, who does get this story? I mean it’s not an easy story to understand in a straightforward way. Scholars have loads of interpretations of this story and Jewish Midrash (a genre of rabbinic literature) on this story are pretty extensive too. Some have creative ways of interpreting it, in which God isn’t asking for a sacrifice, but rather to teach a lesson on the lack of need for sacrifice. Others read it in a straightforward way that comes with complications about God’s character. And, my post isn’t to wade into all of the complexities and offer you my interpretation (although, of course, I have one).

My point is just this – sometimes when you come to a difficult biblical passage, it’s okay to say, “I don’t get it.” There are lots of these stories in the Bible that almost defy an easy, straightforward explanation. The story of Abraham and Isaac is one. The story of the shrewd manager is another, in which it seems like God is in favour of cheating. The parable of the talents in Luke is another story that is anything but straightforward.

So, I write all this to remind us of one thing – it’s okay to say, “I don’t get it.” Following Jesus and trusting in the Bible doesn’t mean it’s easily accessible (or make it such either). The fact that there are tough things to interpret doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it to put in the work to understand it deeper.

So, this post is meant to be an encouragement because what I was reminded of, through my son, is that we forget, as adults, thatit’s okay to say that you don’t get it, to wrestle with the text, to wonder, and to have doubts and questions. Because, as Hudson learned that night at BLAST, that’s the start to learning – by saying you don’t understand.

So, saying, “I don’t get it” isn’t wrong. Sometimes, it’s just honest.

New Futures and New Hope for All

1224442_75255610On Sunday we explored one of my favorite stories, the calling of Abram and Sarai. What happens is God comes to this couple Abram and Sarai and changes their future. In the story the line of Abraham is coming to a close. Sarai is barren and the future for their family is closed. They are in a dark and difficult place. But this is when God chooses to act.

God calls this couple, this unlikely pair, these people to a new future that would change the world. From the outside Abram and Sarai are not people with lots of potential, or promise. These would not be the people most people would choose to change the world with. But thankfully God chooses a different sort of people – not put together perfect people – but broken and barren people so his goodness can be seen. He uses ordinary regular people like you and me.

And God gives Abram and Sarai a new promise and a new future and they believe it and start to follow it. Through this belief God changes the world. Through their following God changes their future. Through their hope God changes them.

This was the point for us – that we follow a God who can change our futures. Your future is not dependant on your age, gender, education, race, finances, or anything else. Your future is dependent on God; the same God who gave a new future to Abram and Sarai and wants to give us one as well.

So we ended with inviting everyone to begin to hope. To hope in a new future, one in which depression, addiction, purposelessness, anxiety, or boredom doesn’t rule. One in which God sets us free for what he has for us. We challenged one another to start to hope and to start to follow. Listen for God and start to follow him like Abram. I have no idea how your situation and future will change. I know though who will change it – God. So begin to hope and trust him and see where he might lead. Because God is in the business of giving a new future and opening up closed ones. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s something that gives me hope.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea God changes our futures

Take Aways…

  • God is involved in real peoples lives, with real struggles
  • This family begins its life in a situation of irreparable hopelessness. Walter Bruggeman talking about Abraham.
  • God is in the business of changing already pre-determined fates
  • They are called to leave behind their country, family, and father’s household
  • Abram lives in a world where life cycles, and repeats, and is destined
  • We base our futures on our past rather than the promises of God
  • Abram goes forward with “eyes close” – John Calvin
  • Your future is not determined by your birth, education, race, gender, skill-set, finances, health, or your parents, Your future is determined by God.
  • I don’t know how our futures change, but I know who changes our futures
  • We follow the God of the limitless future.
  • Start to hope and start to follow
  • My God is a God of new futures

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it?

Have you ever been tempted to believe that your future was set? How come? What future might God be calling you to? Do you have a sense of the next steps to take? How can you ensure that you don’t lose hope in God’s future? Who can support you as you walk towards God’s future? Who can you support?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take sometime to talk with your kids about how with God the world is open. How their future’s are open because of what God wants to do in and through them. Ask them what they think God is calling them to do in the future. Listen really listen, and then no matter how big, decide on one step to take to get them there and take it.

Challenge for this Week: Start to hope and start to follow