Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Grace upon grace

What a gracious God!

Sarah is worried about there being no direct heir for Abraham, so she insists that her maidservant, Hagar, be the bearer of such an heir - and grace upon grace, Ishmael is born!

What a gracious God!

God appears to Abraham and Sarah, sits and talks, eats and drinks, and makes them a promise about a child being born to Sarah - and grace upon grace, Isaac is born!

And, as so happens with so many folks who have been given grace upon grace, Sarah turns into one of the most ungracious people in the Bible. She becomes so jealous of Ishmael (and Hagar), so worried about the share Isaac will get (and her share?), that she insists that Abraham cast them out of the fold.

We can certainly read this story as one of the culture of the times, in which flesh and blood is everything.

But note what a counter-cultural movement God makes - God responds to the cries of the outcasts...God listens to the cries of a woman, as well as a boy who might as well be an orphan. God listens, God saves, God makes a great nation out of the ones cast out by the one who was called to be a blessing to all nations.

We who have been given grace upon grace, we who have been gifted beyond all imagination, we who have been blessed with more than we could ever ask for or expect - how do we respond to such grace? What do we do with all our gifts? How eager are we to become a blessing to others?

And what counter-cultural moves are we, as individuals and churches, willing to make as we look around and cannot fail to see the ones cast out in our societies?

What a gracious God!

Dare we be so gracious?

(c) 2005 Thom M. Shuman

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