When I read that God said to Abraham, offer up your son as a sacrifice, I wonder if this story should have been left out of the Bible. What does it have to do with a loving God and his relationship with his people? Isn’t this just at best a bizarre case of emotional manipulation and at worst divine child abuse?
But recently this story has started to gain new meaning for me. Abraham’s relationship with God is meant to be based on his love for God, not God’s promise. Isaac was God’s promise to Abraham. I’m sure Abraham loved God for Isaac, but when God gives you such a wonderful gift it’s hard to know if you love him for anything but the gift. I healthier relationship would be built on Abraham’s sure love for God, not what God can do for Abraham. I wonder if this sort of testing is God’s gift to his children to expose the nature of our relationship with him. It’s good to know that when tested the real character of our faith emerges. For Abraham, his deep and abiding love for God the person won out over his love for God’s promise in the testing of his faith.
I’m at a place in this church planting process where I feel like my faith is being tested. The same question that was put to Abraham is being put to me. Do I love God the person or the promise of what he can do for me? Do I love God for who God is, or do I love him for what I believe he promises to do in my ministry? I’m pretty sure I love God, the person. It’s nice to know.