We are learning a lot from the lives of Jacob the con and Laban the cheat. These are every day characters on the streets of our community and even sometimes in our bathroom mirror. These characters from the book of beginnings reflect self-centred human nature. They set the example for ‘life on the street. Add to this the example of Esau and his addiction to instant gratification and we have a perfect storm of bad behaviour. These ugly characters shine an unwanted light on our own ugliness, but we read these stories in the light that “the Light of World” sheds on them and us.
We see the seeds sown in selfishness grow into full blown chaos, both in these characters’ lives and our own and we see the seeds of selfless love sown by Christ, particularly on the cross, and the great crop of life which is growing into a Kingdom of Justice and Peace.
We remind ourselves of the Great Commandments “love God” and “love others” and we see the contrast between the beauty of Christ and the ugliness of our self-centred fleshly nature. The question rises in our study “How do we follow Jesus example rather than these men of flesh?” Jesus in His incarnation demonstrates the perfect fulfilment of those commands. He is our example, so that we might walk in His way. At Christmas we see the ‘western world’ screw up its will to follow this ‘spirit of Christmas’ but we do it so imperfectly and for such a short period! Human effort cannot achieve the transformation we require.
We need to fire the old self ‘Jacob’ and hire a new manager (Jesus Lord at His birth) our lives. When faced with decisions we then ask ourselves the simple question “Whose will?” If we can only pause long enough to ask ourselves this question we will buy the space we need to change our thinking and in doing so we offer ourselves to God for the transformation He alone can perform.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Rom. 12:2)
My experience is that when I follow this pattern I escape my Jacob-ness and find my Christ likeness. This really works! It is, though, difficult to maintain and so I need to ensure that I am doing two things: 1) staying in close fellowship with my Lord Jesus, and 2) seeking His forgiveness and restoration quickly when I fail.
This Saturday a small group of us are going to Hampton to share God’s love with folks gathered for their Christmas hampers. People there stand in long lines outside waiting their turn to receive their basket. We are taking Rocket Man (a back pack that holds 3 gallons of Hot Chocolate) and joining a group from Hampton to pass out chocolate and some cookies to those waiting. It is wonderful to think of people from our inner-city going to this outlying area on an ‘outreach’. This is one of the ways we seek to incarnate the Good News, following the example of Jesus our Lord and new manager.