Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community
Genesis 12: 1-4
May the words from my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer, Amen
  
Have any of you ever researched your family roots before? (Science of genealogy)  It’s something that’s interested me from time to time but I’ve never taken the time to actually do it.  I understand it takes a lot of time to do it on your own.  Of course the internet has come along to help people do research into their genealogy.  In fact it’s become a very lucrative business. There are lots of websites like ancestry.com and my heritage.com and familylink .com just to name a few.  People are very interested in tracing their family roots.
 
But why? What’s the real interest in learning about our origins??  Well genealogists say people are interested in it because it gives them a sense of their history.  For example knowing about your family tree can give you a health history that might save your life. If there is an issue in your family with heart disease or cancer it can be very helpful to us to be on the lookout for these things.  In other words, knowing your genealogy helps with giving you information about your genetics; your DNA.
 
Genealogists also give another reason why people are interested in their origins----It  provides us with a sense of identity: --- So often we hear about or know kids who have gone astray because they feel disconnected to their family and the world.  Genealogists say that when you fill in the blanks of your family history you discover characteristics about yourself that you have in common with an earlier ancestor.  For example, a musically talented child discovers that his great-grandfather played an instrument and sang in the church choir.  One can also find an old photograph and see resemblances that give you a sense of connection and a sense of identity.
  
So this knowledge of our family roots; our origins is something that gives us information about our identity; our DNA makeup if you will.
 
Now with that in mind, we turn to our scripture and we see the beginning of the story of Abram or Abraham. And Abraham is regarded as the first father of faith.  If we, people of faith, trace our genealogy to where faith begins, Abraham is the original. He is the origin of our spiritual roots. 
  
Of course Islam also traces its roots to Abraham as the father of Ishmael and Judaism sees Abraham as their roots thru his son Isaac.
 
And we Christians understand our roots from Judaism which also therefore makes Abraham our origin; our spiritual father of faith.  In fact in Romans chapter 4 verse 16, Paul says Abraham is our faith father.  Thru Abraham we get a sense of our history----
 
Now you might be saying so what??? “I’m really not interested in church history and who begat who… None of this means anything to me”.
 
But again if we are interested at all, in knowing our family roots as Christians, if we want to know our origins and the DNA of which we are made up of, it’s important for us to take a look at this original father of faith.
 
So today we’re getting a free genealogy report on our spiritual DNA; our family roots—our Origins………………………………
 
Now when we look at Abraham’s story in our scripture today, we see that Abraham’s response to God’s call is at the root of our spiritual DNA.  Abraham heard God’s call and then acted upon it with trust and faith. He became our father of faith because he dared to trust God.  And we see how he dared to trust God by the way he responded to God’s call to do two things.  And it’s these 2 things that we want to look at today because as people of faith, his response is a part of who we are and how we are to respond.  As one might see characteristics of a distant relative, we too find the characteristics of who we are to be, by the way we respond to God’s call in these 2 areas.
 
Now when we look at our scripture the first thing we see God call Abraham to do is to leave.  God wants Abraham to “go from” his country, his people and his father’s household.
 
Now what’s with this leaving business?? Why did Abraham need to leave?  Well being able to “leave” is an essential gene for people who act in faith.  It means we are putting our trust in God first and foremost.  And that’s what Abraham did by responding to God’s call to leave.
 
In each of these 3 areas (his country, his people and his father’s household) Abraham was letting go of his security and trust in something other than God.
 
For example, by leaving his country, Abraham was leaving the familiar and comfortable.
 
I know for Cindy and I when we left Tennessee to come to Maine it almost felt like moving to a different country.  There was such a loss of what was familiar and comfortable.  So I can only imagine what Abraham must have felt like when he followed God’s call to leave his country.  It was certainly a call to leave the familiar and comfortable.
 
Now in our genetics as people of faith, we may or may not have to leave a geographical location like Abraham.  But we most certainly have to be willing to step out of the familiar and out of our comfort zones.  You see our countries can be lots of different things:
 -it can be our homes that we hide in to stay away from going to where God wants us to serve,
 -it can be traditions that we don’t want to change to reach people who aren’t like us,
 -it can be a religion that’s nothing more than a rule book instead of offering grace.
 
Whatever ways we are unwilling to move out of the familiar and comfortable---that’s a country that God is calling us to leave.  It’s a security that we’re putting our trust in besides God. 
 
It’s the same with God’s call to Abraham to leave his people. Abraham had to let go of his family and friends in order to act in faith toward God.
 
You know, family and friends can be very important to us and they should be.  But they can also prevent us from following God’s call.
 
I know of a pastor who when he went into the ministry was put in a difficult position with his family.  His family had this unwritten loyalty policy that came above everything else.  So when the pastor was unable to sit in his pew on Mother’s day or Father’s Day or on Easter Sunday because he was preaching, there was a grumbling from his family.  And when he followed God’s call to move to a different part of the country he was made to feel guilty because again he was choosing God over his family.
 
 You know sometimes, family loyalty can be a strong idol that prevents us from being who God calls us to be.
 
So many children are afraid to leave the nest and they stay home or stay in the same hometown, because they aren’t willing to leave their people.
 
Spouses can be in a marriage where their partners are not people of faith and they might compromise their calling.---the idol of family first comes over God’s calling.
 
But people with the DNA of Abraham are called to trust in God first and trust that God will take care of them and their family.
 
Now the last way Abraham was called to leave his security and trust in things other than God was when God told Abraham to leave is his father’s household.
 
Now in this culture, the father’s household was a person’s economic security---  To LEAVE his father’s household, meant that Abraham was letting go of his trust and security in his wealth and instead putting his life in God’s hands.  
 
Now this was the same kind of call that Jesus put before the rich young ruler as well as his disciples James and John.  They were to leave the security of their nets to follow Jesus.
 
As part of our genetics of faith we too are called to not put our security and trust in our bank accounts for they can cause us to not live lives of faith…….
 
A young salesman was approached by his boss who told him 'I'm going to give you a real opportunity. I'm going to give you a bigger sales territory. We believe that you are going places, young man.'  "But I don't want a bigger sales territory," the young salesman told his boss. "I'm already away from home four nights a week. It wouldn't be fair to my wife and daughter."  "Look," his boss replied, "we're asking you to do this for your wife and daughter. Don't you want to be a good father?  It takes money to support a family these days. Sure, your little girl doesn't take much money now, but think of the future. Think of her future. I'm only asking you to do this for them," the boss said………..(Will Willimon)
  
So easily we can let our security and trust in our finances be the thing that we follow. (it can manifest itself in many ways—portfolios and buildings make our decisions…)
 
But when our family roots are grounded in the faith of Abraham we are willing to leave that security as well.
 
Now along with the call to be able to leave, the other significant part of our family roots as we see in Abraham is in our willingness to GO.
 
Just as important as the characteristic of LEAVING is in our DNA, the word “GO” is just as important.
 
So what does it mean to GO???
 
Well when we look at the story of Abraham we see that when God called him to GO, Abraham didn’t have a clue where he was going.  He didn’t have a GPS, no MapQuest or a membership to triple A.  Abraham just went…..
 
And for us as Christians, as we look at the origins of our faith, Abraham is showing us that to be a follower of God is to have a faith to GO even when you don’t know where you’re going.  And that’s so hard for us too; because we want to know the end result before we decide to go. We want to know how everything is going to turn out before we commit to anything. We want a crystal ball.
 
But God simply tells us to go and when we act in faith trusting in God, that’s really all we need to do……
 
One night a house caught fire and a young boy was forced to run up to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, "Jump! I'll catch you."   Well the boy knew he had to jump to save his life. But all he could see were the flames, and smoke, and blackness.
As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof.  But his father kept yelling: "Jump! I will catch you."   Filled with fear the boy protested, "Daddy, I can't see you."
But the dad replied, "I can see you and that's all that matters."……………………….. (unknown)
 
As Christians, our identity, our family roots in Abraham means that we are to be people who are willing to take that jump and GO without seeing the whole picture. After all, that’s what faith is all about. 
 
And though it is frightening and difficult to take that leap of faith to leave and to go we don’t go alone.  We see that in the subsequent verses of our scripture—Abraham left and as he did, he took with him God’s blessing and God’s promise----It was all the assurance he needed to go where God was sending him.
 
Now, we Christians have that same blessing and promise.  As God made a covenant with Abraham to bless and protect him, it was the beginning of a covenant of protection and blessing to us.  It was the origins of a faith story where the roots would lead to a Jewish carpenter’s son, by the name of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.  -Born to live and die for our sins that we might have the assurance of eternal blessing and promise when we give our lives in faith to him.  And with that blessing in our backpack, we are empowered as descendants of Jesus to have no fear to leave and go as God calls us.
 
In closing today we’re being asked to reconnect with our origins. What does your DNA as a Christian look like?
 
Does it look like your spiritual father of faith, Abraham, who was open to leave his country, his people, his security, when God called him??
 
Are you willing to GO wherever God sends you no matter where???
 
We have nothing to fear and everything to gain.
 
Today let us reconnect with our family roots. Let us remember who we are as Christians…..
 
Wherever God is calling you, be willing to leave--- And be prepared to go…. --------------
 
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen