Yesterday at Aletheia we jumped back into our teaching series in Genesis, having a look at Abram. In the first nine verses of chapter twelve, we found a goldmine of faith. There is some debate these days amongst preacher like myself which asks the question, "Should we preach as though men like Abram are examples to be followed?" My answer to that question is yes ... and no. That is, the story of Abram shows us some powerful principles of what faith does—what faithing looks like (to invent a verb). In fact, here are a few of those principles...
Faith Obeys I find it fascinating that for Abram (the archetype of faith), his faith immediately showed up in obedience. If we really trust God then we'll simply do what he asks—even if it sound crazy. Like moving from your hometown at the age of 75 with all your stuff and your weird nephew and his weirder wife.
Faith Journeys In these nine short verses, we're told three times that Abram "journeyed on." In fact, his whole walk with God was 99% journey. He never actually saw with his own eyes what God promised him. Yet, because God is worthy of trust, Abram journeyed with him.
Faith Goes for the World God made a huge, gracious promise that Abram totally didn't deserve. "I'll bless you and make your name great ... so that you will be a blessing." Abram's journey of faith wasn't primarily about Abram. It was about God's purposes in the nations. Good to remember that our faith journey has more riding on it than our personal fulfillment.
Faith Goes All In When God called Abram out of Ur, he moved. Everything. Out. That is, he didn't keep a condo in Ur. He didn't leave a little bit back, just in case God didn't make good on his promises. He left Ur to follow God. Have you gone all in with God? Or, are you trying to go on the journey without leaving the "Ur" of your former life? Trusting God means going all in with him.
Faith Feasts in Worship The journey of faith is done best when we worship along the way. Twice in these verses we see that Abram stopped to build an altar, remember the promise, and worship God. Worship isn't the duty of the faithful, like some extra burden to carry for the journey. Worship is the feast... the fuel! We worship so we have endurance for the journey.
So back to the debate. Should we preach this story as a "be like Abram," kind of example? Yes and no. These principles are great, but all by themselves they're insufficient. We need something more ... someone more. In Christ, we have a truer Abram. Jesus, like Abram, left Heaven to journey in a land that wasn't his home. Like Abram, his journey ended in death, but not before giving birth to a new line of God's people. But unlike Abram, Jesus didn't just die, showing us what faith looks like. He rose, enabling true and transformational faith. We look back on his life not just to inspire faith, but to enable it. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection is the ultimate example of God's faithfulness. We know we can trust him because he's shown himself to be ultimately trustworthy.
Jesus' life is more than an example, it's transformational.