Yesterday we discussed how “foolish” the Kingdom of God seems to be. God promised to make a great nation out of the barren womb of an old lady. Today the foolishness seems to deepen.
In order to grasp the intensity of this story you must attempt to crawl into the mind of Abraham as it played out. “Excuse me, Lord, but did I hear you correctly? Did you say that you wanted me to kill Isaac? First of all, isn’t this the son through whom you said you would make a nation? If you brought him into the world only to kill him, why didn’t you just use my son Ishmael and save us all the hassle? Secondly, Lord, isn’t killing my son…well…a sin? Are you asking me to do something that we both know would be morally wrong?”
If I were Abraham these would have been my natural responses to God. I cannot even imagine the thoughts and emotions that were racing through Abraham’s mind as he was collecting the wood, lighting the fire, and leading his son to the mountain.
Yet, in testimony to the humility and absolute faith in God, Abraham obeyed. Abraham was actually willing to look logic in the face and say, “No, I will not do the ‘logical’ thing, I will obey the Word of the Lord.” Abram was willing to sacrifice everything, even the very thing that was given to Him by God for God’s purpose, in order to be obedient to God.
The question remains for us; would we be willing to sacrifice anything and everything if God asked us to do so? We see this principle again in the story of the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-30. This rich man said that he had obeyed all the laws. Now his question was what he must do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus told him to give away his riches. He couldn’t do it. Does that mean that everyone must give away all their possessions before God will let them into the Kingdom? Not necessarily. It does, however, mean that God expects all of His followers to be willing to give up everything for His sake. Are we willing to do that? As comfortable Americans it is very difficult to even comprehend the question.
Most of us will never be asked this question point blank. Yet, the question persists. Would you be willing to give up your reputation if Jesus asked you to? Would you be willing to give up your status, your job, your creature comforts, your ministry, if Jesus asked you to do so?
This is a sobering story and a sobering question. When we look deep inside our heart, however, it is the core of our faith. If we are not really willing to raise the knife to the throat of our “promised son” then we may not be trusting in God, but in our own ability to reason and perform. Until we can let go of the “stuff” and believe with all our heart that God loves us and desires to be with us we cannot experience the joy. We must trust that God’s plan is bigger than our concept of happiness and security, and that if we would just jump off the cliff of faith, He will provide a deeper joy and fulfillment (a ram in the thicket) than we can possibly comprehend. That joy and fulfillment may not look anything like our physical, comfort-centered notions. It may even be shrouded in physical pain and suffering, but deep in its core is the eternal Kingdom of God.
What do you need to let go of today?