Growing up in the church, I remember the words well:
“Father Abraham, had many sons, and many sons had father Abraham;
I am one of them, and so are you, so let’s just praise the Lord. Right arm!”
I’m fighting the urge to swing my right arm above my head even now as the lyrics are running through my mind. We sang it over and over again and included every part of the body, and it didn’t catch on with me until much later that there was some really good, lasting, profound theological truth in that song.
Abraham was promised by God that he would indeed have many sons. Very many. More than the stars in the sky and sand on the seashore. And that promise was fulfilled, though probably not in the way Abraham might have guessed:
So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham (Galatians 3:6-7).
It’s true! Do you believe in the same God Abraham did? Do you have faith in the One who raises the dead? If so, then you are part of Abraham’s family, not by blood, but faith. I am one of them. And so are you. So let’s just praise the Lord!
It’s a pretty staggering realization to see ourselves in that light – that we are part of the fulfillment of the promise God made to the father of the Jewish nation way back in Genesis 12:
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:2-3).
But part of being included in that promise is being included in the responsibility of that promise. If we are children of Abraham by faith, then we have a responsibility to living out the rest of that promise in 2022. So how do we do that? Really just three, simple steps:
1. Recognize the blessing.
As children of Abraham by faith, we are blessed. And perhaps your mind drifts to the material blessings you have at your disposal right now. Disposable income. House in a good school district. Health, and health benefits with your job. All blessings to be sure, but let’s be careful and not neglect the greatest blessing – that we, by God’s grace, have been included among not only the children of Abraham, but the children of God. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ because we have heard, understood, and believed the gospel. That is the truest, most lasting, and greatest blessing. That’s the first step in living Genesis 12 in the modern world.
2. Understand the blessing.
We have been blessed with the gospel. And yes, we should rejoice in the fact that we are the beloved, set apart, and secure children of God. But understanding the blessing goes a step beyond recognizing the blessing. Understanding it means understanding the same thing Abraham needed to recognize – that he was not blessed by God purely so he could sit back and enjoy being blessed; he was blessed for the sake of others:
“I will bless you… to be a blessing…”
“All the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.”
God did not bless Abraham (then called Abram) at the exclusion of everyone else; he blessed him for the sake of everyone else. God’s intent is that this blessing is not hoarded, but rather it is shared far and wide, even to the ends of the earth. Understanding the blessing means understanding that we still have a role to play in passing it on through the message and demonstration of God’s grace in the gospel.
3. Embrace the opportunity of the blessing.
We recognize the true blessing for what it is. Then we understand the responsibility that comes with the blessing. All that’s left for us is to take advantage of the opportunity of the blessing, and the opportunities are all around us. They take the form of the person who is left out wondering if anyone will notice them; of the lonely one who is looking for true and lasting love; of the successful person at the end of their rope wondering if there is something more. The opportunity is the neighbor, the other parent on the baseball team, and the person who happens to wander into the church building.
To embrace the opportunity we have to believe the opportunities are there, and make the conscious but simple choice to take advantage of them. This is how we live out Genesis 12 in 2022. Not complicated, but definitely intentional. And when we intentionally make the choice to do so, we will find that the blessing is still living and active and read to be passed on.