Series: Simply Complex
Message: Complex Faith
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Daily Walk: Japhet De Oliveira
Refresh: Open with prayer. Ask God for the understanding through the Holy Spirit.
Read: Genesis 16–17 (ESV). As you read the English Standard Version, note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: I have some habits in my life that I would like believe that I have dealt with. These include personality traits that I don’t think are entirely appropriate to what a Christian gentleman ought to be. So when I see indications of these traits in my sons, I want to nip them in the bud immediately. I want them to understand that these are not characteristics you want to develop. I wish, for instance, that I was a lot more patient. When I was younger, I always felt this intense urgency to get everything done quickly. This is great if you are cleaning the house, but there are some projects that require time and patience. Wood sometimes needs to rest. Varnish needs to be layered slowly. Time-consuming and slow tasks have often become so frustrating to me that I end up failing at them. (To be fair to my sons, that are actually much more patient than I was at their age.) You would think that after more than four decades of life, I would have mastered the simple task of patience, and yet those close to me can testify that this is not always the case.
Abram, even after hearing directly from God, still can’t believe that this heir will come from his wife Sarai, and makes plans to create future generations with her servant, Hagar. His level of patience has dwindled rather rapidly. You would think that since he had heard directly from God that he would have had more patience in allowing God’s plan to take shape. Yet this is the nature of complex faith. It is constantly attempting to embrace reality and forgetting to blend the past reality with the reality of the present. People forget. Abram was simply being asked to hold onto God—to trust Him to be faithful in the future as He had been faithful in the past. But from Abram’s point of view, there was no clear indicator of how God would fulfill the promise, so Abram used his “common sense” to try to resolve his problem.
God once again had to speak directly to him, introducing him to a physical rite of passage—circumcision. The symbol signified a deep renewal of the covenant, a renewal of the promise of their mutual commitment. A few verses later, in chapter 17, Abraham’s (note the change in name following the covenant) complex faith has him laughing at God’s promise in disbelief. Now, before you feel too disappointed in Abraham, bear in that Jesus fed 5,000 (Mark 6:30–44) and 4,000 (Mark 8:1–10), yet when the disciples forget to bring bread (Mark 8:14–21) and Jesus tries takes them to the Technic level, they do not understand! Abraham, too, wanted to hang on to his own managed results and not to the promised results that God offered.
Recalibrate: What promises has God perhaps offered that you are avoiding because you have settled for something else?
Respond: Pray for the complex faith to have the courage to trust God.
Research: What traditions practiced circumcision before Abraham?