“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Col. 3:1)
When Abraham walked the earth he was not only the “father of faith” but also the entirety of the Jewish nation. After Abraham came Isaac, then Jacob and Esau, then the twelve sons of Jacob, and then the rapidly growing nation of Israelites in Egypt. Being the first, Abraham set the singularly unique example of a journey of faith following the promise of God that produced a personal relationship with the living God, making Abraham forever-after a blessing to “all the nations of the earth” (Gen. 12:3; 22:18). The Israelites were supposed to follow in these same footsteps in their own journeys of faith individually and collectively, producing a similar high-quality personal relationship with the God of Abraham.
This arrangement of life’s events and circumstances following the living God creates a journey of faith that is foreign to and falls outside of what I call worldly conventional normalcy.
If the life of Abraham the father of faith was about fulfilling horizontally conventional thinking only, he could have stayed in the city of Haran. Abraham could have gotten for himself, through self-direction, a second and third wife in addition to Sarah, and produced many children and heirs according to conventional expectations, cleverly working around the fact that Sarah up to that point in time was “barren.” Abraham potentially could have become an influential civic and political leader in Haran…all the while maintaining complete control over the destiny of his life…and prospering both financially and in stature as a person according to the socially universal aspirations and expectations of worldly conventional normalcy. But then Abraham would have passed out of history as an unknown, worldly conventional, unremarkable person (Mk. 8:35-37).
Abraham journeys out into an adventure of faith following God into the Promised Land…the land of Canaan…and by doing so God displaces the conventionally normative life that Abraham would have lived in Haran with a new, elevated life of faith having purpose and scope beyond anything Abraham could have imagined or self-engineered. The life of Abraham is the opening example in a long series of God-composed life-scripts recorded in the Bible, having the cross of Christ applied to people’s lives that produces a divinely crafted context for a personal relationship with the living God. This is clearly unique to human history and common experience, and is not found anywhere else in philosophy, religion, or literature. A God-composed life-script journeying through the cross of Christ that displaces our plans with God’s higher plans (Isa. 55:8-9), is above and outside of human imagination, invention, or contrivance.
The main point I want to make in this opening section is that when the leaders in Jerusalem rejected the person and teaching of Jesus in favor of the concerns of practical, worldly conventional thinking (Jn. 11:48), when they rejected the novelty and the inherent risk in a biblical-quality adventure of faith patterned after Abraham, they were in the most profound and concrete way being un-Jewish (Rom. 9:6-7). The rejection of Jesus as messiah equates to an endorsement of worldly horizontal, conventional normalcy because it is a rejection of the bold and uninhibited life-zone of faith starting with Abraham.
A journey of faith through the cross of Christ is what ties today’s Christian life-in-the-danger-zone to the prophetic statement spoken long ago in Genesis 12:3 that Abraham will be a blessing to all nations. The new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 says that all believers will personally know God from the least to the greatest. This is accomplished through a God-composed journey of faith life-script for every Spirit-born Christian today. This is the core element…the distinguishing feature of faith and trust in God above the norms of otherwise worldly conventional thinking…of the Christian life in the danger zone.