You are called to be a blessing
Reading: Gen. 12.1-4 and 20.1-17
It is a human tendency to be apprehensive even anxiously nervous when visiting a new place; especially a place that has a bad fame of cruelty and wickedness. One wonders what Abraham did hear about the people of Gerar prior to his visit to this place. It is however, obvious from the text of Genesis 20 that Father Abraham was anxious and really alarmed as to what he was going to meet at Gerar.
In Genesis 20, we have read about the bad behaviour of Father Abraham, the hero of faith. Abraham is worried about how the people at Gerar are going to treat him. Abraham’s fear led him into an ugly performance. It’s probable that he had overheard about the hostility of the people of Gerar. Sequel to the information, he became disturbed and disowned his faith as well as his God who had chosen him and called him.
I would like us to learn an important lesson from this story in which Father Abraham misbehaved under the theme: You are called to be a blessing! The implication of our call in the Lord Jesus Christ therefore is that, we should remain faithful to our calls come rain, come shine. In whatever situation one finds his or herself as a Christian, the paramount consideration should be the faith one has in the Almighty God that calls all believers unto salvation in Jesus Christ.
We have heard a lot about Abraham. He has been celebrated in the Hebrews as the hero of faith. We sing songs about Father Abraham; he is really big in the New Testament. Abraham is like synonymous with the word faith. But in this chapter of Genesis 20, he comes off as a bit of a flake.
Remember that, this is the man who did marvelously in the first verses of Genesis 12. When God threw his gracious call unto Abram, he did not do any homework of asking God any question in relation to his wellbeing. He simply answered God’s call by faith in affirmative. Abram did not consult with anybody; he did not wait for his answer to come from a vision, a trance nor a dream. Abram did not call brethren for a night vigil to help him find out what to do concerning the call that God had extended to him. Abram believed on God, and that was credited to him as righteousness!
But in Genesis 20, Abraham performed badly. There are sorts of ways in which he behaves badly: Abraham lies- he passes off Sarah as his sister when she is his wife. Abraham whines and snivels with his legalistic and lame excuses before Abimelech that actually Sarah is his sister-the daughter of his father but not the daughter of his mother and then she became his wife! What an excuse?
The implication of Abraham’s behaviour here was that, he abandons the promise that God made to him in Genesis 12.2-3. God had promised that he would be a great nation. That he and Sarah would have a child and that through his descendants the world would be blessed. The promise is meant to work through his marriage with Sarah. But when faced with a threat to his security Abraham says, forget about the marriage, forget about the promise, from now on you are my sister!
Abraham is neglecting his call, hence renouncing his faith in the God that called him! God has blessed him so that he can be a blessing to the nations, to other people. In this story, he not only fails to be a blessing, but through his sin and deceitfulness he brings a curse-he puts Abimelech’s life in danger and closes the wombs of his household. What an irony! Abraham became a curse to Abimelech and his people. Worst of all is the fact that, Abraham is not lying here for the first time. Remember what he did in Egypt in Genesis 12 with similar results. How can a hero of faith be always bringing curses and harm to innocent people when he suppose to be a blessing?
It is tempting to write Father Abraham off and even retrieve all the titles that he had for these poor performances in Egypt and Gerar. But we Christians today, like Abraham have been called out of the world to be a blessing to the people of the world and call the world back unto Jesus.
In most cases in our society, we Christians who suppose to be blessing to the people conversely bring curses and all kinds of hardships, sufferings and even massive deaths. In almost all of such cases, the only reason is the fear of forfeiting our personal securities, benefits, positions and what have you. Our self-seeking and selfishness often times than not bring curses rather than blessings to the people/institutions/organizations/churches-that we supposed to be a blessing to. What a shame to our claims of call into various ministries in today’s postmodern spiritual market place, even the Christian ministries!
Turn around everywhere you go in Nigeria and Africa in general, you we discover that, every blessed day, ministries upon ministries are trooping up. Thousand and one people receive varied visions from “God” to set up different kinds of Christian ministries. There are discords and breakages, even as ministries secede here and there for the formation of new ones, all in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! It is interesting to hear from “these great men of God” who are not able to settle minor disputes even in their marriages forming ministries and holding big titles as “God” is calling all of them to be blessing to the nations!
Are you called of God to be involved in that ministry where you have found yourself? How do you think you are a blessing to that your embittered ex-wife whom you have arbitrarily divorced and yet are forming Christian ministries here and there? Are you a blessing to that your wife, whom you are maltreating and abusing every now and then? Are you a blessing to your husband whom you have abandoned for young boys and other men? Are you a blessing to your parents who are dying of poverty even as you are swimming in pool of money? Are you a blessing to your children who are neglected and abandoned? Are you a blessing to your boss, whom you cheat left and right? Are you a blessing to your subjects whom you have turned into slaves and logs? Are you a blessing to your congregation whom you misappropriate its finances? What about your students that you are abusing them sexually and receiving bribes from them in order to pass them their exams? Are you a blessing to your teachers and lecturers whom you are harassing and intimidating here and there? What about your society? Are you a blessing to the youth that you have turned into political thugs? Are you a curse rather?
Some so-called Pastors and men of God are a nasty and terrible curse to their congregations! They preach Prosperity Gospel; they deny the Christian taking their crosses and following Jesus, Mat. 16.24. These cursed preachers shy away from preaching the prophetic word of God that confronts sinners to repentance. They flatter big sinners in their congregations for their material benefits. Such “Pastors and men of God” who flatter people and deceive them to continue wallowing in their sins are a very big curse to such congregations! Oh! Remember, you are called to be a blessing!
In this story in Genesis 20, Abraham comes off as a fearful man basically interested in protecting himself. He forfeited his call, neglected the promise and the purpose for which God called him. If you found yourself in the Church or any organization protecting your selfish interest, count yourself a failure and a curse!
While Father Abraham, the one celebrated in Hebrews as a hero of the faith, comes off rather badly in this story, the pagan king Abimelech comes off like a saint. In Abimelech’s words, he has a clear conscience and clean hands. He said to God that he acted in integrity and innocence. These words are coming from a pagan king.
The pagan king Abimelech has a clear conscience and clean hands, while Father Abraham, the hero of the faith comes off as a flake. Abraham was claiming that there was no fear of God in Gerar. But king Abimelech did not touch Sarah! Why? God talked to Abimelech just once in a dream. But try to count how many times God appeared and talked to Abraham with all kinds of assurances from chapters 12 to 18 of Genesis? In all these places God assured Abraham of his presence with him and that Abraham’s descendants after him were going to inherit the land he, God had promised.
In spite of all these, Abraham did not act with integrity in the face of uncertainty, when he did not know what the people at Gerar would do to him. But Abimelech takes God’s words seriously. Abimelech shows a great moral sensitivity. Unlike Abraham whom God assured that would have a son through Sarah but rushed into Hagar and impregnated her that very night when Sarah gave him go ahead, Abimelech did not touch Sarah.
At the end of the story in Genesis 20, who really fears God, Abimelech or Abraham? Abimelech and his people feared God, while Abraham was busy fearing the people at Gerar.
One other obvious lesson in the story is that, when we Christians failed to measure up to expectation, when we fail to be faithful to our call, we subject ourselves to all kinds of embarrassments from all Jack and Harry!
Abimelech after beating Abraham hands down had the boldness to sit Abraham down and ask him very hard questions. He calls Abraham on the carpet and tells him off for being unfaithful. He reminds Abraham of what’s right and what’s wrong and says “You have done things to me that should not be done.” He called Abraham to repentance! Abraham may be the prophet but Abimelech fulfilled the role to his shame!
When we perform very badly, the world has the guts to judge us and mock us at the same time. How many times do the world say about us, but they say they are Pastors? But they say they are Christians, but look at what they are doing! Those of us who do not go to Church are better off!
When we behave sinfully, we give the world the right to judge us to our shame! Are you a blessing in that business that you are doing? How many Christians have gone into the Nigerian politics in the name that they are going to transform Nigerian politics for Christ? What have those Christians achieved in politics, if not turned twice the sons of Gehenna?
In spite of the ugly performance of Father Abraham in Egypt and Gerar, we have seen a promise of faithfulness from the side of our God, whom we serve. God is one yesterday, today and forever more! Hallelujah!
We have seen the double standard of Father Abraham, but have seen the oneness of God. We have two Abrahams and one immutable God, who remains faithful to his promises to Abraham with all of Abraham’s inconsistencies. This one immutable God is the LORD we serve. In Jesus Christ, he is faithful forever; he never fails and never changes. With all your dirty life, you still have a chance to fall on the cross on Jesus Christ; he will still show genuine love and mercy on you. Call on Jesus Christ today, he will change you to a blessing rather than a curse. Amen.