Often in scripture we find people using the phrase, “the Lord your God”, usually when speaking to their parents. This is a common and necessary transition in our own faith development, the transition from living out our parent’s faith to claiming it as our own. For some, this happens in adolescence as we become adults and make our own decisions. For others, this process doesn’t really happen until much later in life, when we begin to recognize our faith as a foreign thing and have to either discard it or claim it. For still others, we never really ponder this question and continue to live out our parent’s faith throughout our lives.
For Jacob, God had to do a lot to draw his attention to this question. As a sneaky, manipulative man, stealing his brother’s birthright and then blessing, he seems to live without God for much of his early years. This is confirmed in his conversation with his father Isaac in v.20: “The LORD your God gave me success.” But then God intervenes, yet another mark of His grace in this story. Jacob sleeps and God speaks to him in a dream, confirming His Covenant with Jacob as He had with Abraham and Isaac. And so Jacob is confronted with the reality of God, perhaps for the first time.
Yet even after seeing God in a vision, even after receiving the promise of God’s blessing, Jacob still seems to be trying to wrestle more out of God. Like so many, his early faith is transactional – you give me something and in return I give you something. “IF God will be with me, watch over me, give me food, give me clothes, and keep me safe, THEN God will be my God and I’ll tithe.” It won’t be until much later that Jacob’s faith moves from transactional to relational – I follow You because I love you, not for what I get out of it.
It’s an important point to ponder today: Is your faith your own or are you still living someone else’s faith, a parent’s or a mentor’s? Is your faith in God transactional (I give something, I get something) or relational (I love God so I follow)? To sum it up, in the words of the Covenant Church since it’s very founding, “How is your walk with God?”
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