God’s People Are Real People

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From there Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.” Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. Now then, return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, so that he will pray for you, and you shall live. But if you do not return her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.” – Genesis 20:1-7

Water Lilies X 4 | Missouri Botanical Garden | July 2021

I would rather not deal with the uglier things of life. I’m not a fan of horror movies. I couldn’t make it all the way through Braveheart. It was just too graphically gruesome. I watched The Passion of the Christ, but I didn’t find the graphic violence edifying. So if you’re following this blog from day to day, you’ll see I skipped over the incidents of Lot’s daughters and their drunken father. But, alas, here we are. Abraham is at it again. This seems to be less unseemly. But still…must we have this example of Abraham’s unfaithfulness played out before our eyes? Again!?!

The Bible is filled with real people, living real lives, doing real things. Those real things too often include sinful things. Peter denying Jesus. Disciples squabbling over who gets to sit in the seat of honor in Jesus’ coming kingdom. David and Bathsheba. Cain and Abel. Noah and his sons. One after another we see God’s people (N.B.) making poor choices. That’s putting it euphemistically. Better just say it: you see God’s people sinning. Breaking the commandments. Caving into temptation. Fearing man rather than God. 

God’s people are real people. They are human. 

But so was Jesus. Only he was without sin. He was real. He was tempted. He faced real life and death crises. But he did not sin. 

My point here? When we say, “I’m only human,” we shortchange what it means to be human. Adam and Eve were human – before they sinned. Jesus was human. Fully human. He was the fulfillment of all that humans were meant to be. 

Better we say, “God’s people are sinners.” Even though that’s not the whole story. Nor should it be. We who believe in Jesus are born again, and as such we are also saints. New creations. And our sinfulness is never an excuse for bad behavior. It is a cause for repentance. It is what required God to redeem us. It is why Jesus had to come, live, teach, suffer, and die. And his resurrection proves he did it perfectly. We’ll celebrate that in the life of the world to come when Jesus returns and takes his sinful saints home. He is our righteousness. 

Abraham is an example of faith. It was a faltering faith at times – seen in this incident above. He repeats his deception, calling Sarah his sister, only to be caught out again. And here is the interesting part: God calls Abraham his prophet. After all that, he is recognized by God before Abimelech as one who would pray for him. 

God’s people are sinners. They are forgiven sinners. And they are also the ones God uses to intercede for others. We serve the Father as broken vessels of God’s grace. And if, once in a while, our brokenness becomes evident, we can be thankful that God’s grace abounds. And perhaps it will leak out from us and be a source of blessing and favor to others. 

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