Unchanged

Genesis 28-33  1/27/2009 8:45pm

Pericope: Genesis 31

Recently I was involved in a discussion with some friends. One made a statement that for the most part he is no different than he was 5 years ago. He confessed that he struggled with the same issues today as he did back then. So the big question became, “How can I change?”

It seems to me that as I read the Old Testament, I am encountering the same issue. Even as the people of God entered into a Covenant relationship, their lifestyle remained unchanged. In the story of Jacob, as he was earning his wives Leah and Rachel, there were several instances that suggest God’s people were heavily influenced by culture. First, why two wives? Second, when the wives were arguing over fertility problems, Leah gave away mandrakes to Rachel in order to have a night with Jacob. Rachel’s confidence for fertility was not centered in Yahweh. Third, Rachel stole her father’s idols. The point: it does not seem that God’s people were as perfect as the Sunday school stories make them out to be. To be sanctified (or set apart) as God’s people did not mean they were holy.

To put it slightly differently, being in community with God does not equate holiness. It does not equate perfection for a human standpoint.

So my friend’s question is quite valid. Why is he not much different than before? Why are his struggles today similar to five years ago? This is not an issue of salvation, but rather what it means to be sanctified.

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