Leveling Up

If you’re familiar with video games, you’re familiar with the concept of “leveling up.” Video games have different levels with each successive level becoming more difficult than the previous one. In each level the character you are playing acquires different skills (power-ups), points, weapons, etc. that help him or her meet the “boss” on that level. The boss is the ultimate character you must defeat if you want to advance in the game. If you beat the boss you get to move to the next level, plus you are rewarded with new power-ups, extra lives, additional weapons, skills, etc. On the new level you meet new challenges and gain new skills to prepare you to face the next boss.

I’m not saying that walking the Christian walk is like a video game, neither am I bringing the Christian walk down to the level of a video game. What I am saying is that God rewards our faithfulness to Him with greater challenges to our faith. He does this one, to grow us and two, to prepare us for greater responsibilities and therefore greater blessings.

Abram in the book of Genesis is an example of someone whose faith was challenged and whose faithfulness was rewarded with greater responsibilities and blessings as a result. He lived in Ur of the Chaldees; a land full of idolatry. It wasn’t that these people couldn’t know the true God or that they didn’t know the true God. They knew of Noah and of his faith. They knew of the Great Flood and of Noah’s obedience. It’s even possible, given the longer lifespans of the day, that Noah had lived long enough to tell his story to Abram’s generation, or at least the generation before Abram. So, none of the people of the day could honestly claim ignorance. The people chose not to worship the true God, all the people that is, except people like Abram. Not only did Abram know of Noah’s faith, he shared in it which is why God singled Abram out. Like Noah, Abram had found grace in God’s sight because of his faith. In response to that faith, God gave him a calling: He was to leave his homeland and his family to go to another land, which ironically, had even more idolatry in it, but if he obeyed, God would bless him in a great way:

Genesis 12:2-3
(2)  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
(3)  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

According to Genesis 11:30, Sarai Abram’s wife was barren. So, this promise of God to Abram was significant. In response, “…Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him…” (Genesis 12:4a) and he, his wife and his nephew Lot went to Canaan. I can only imagine the changes and the culture shock they had to go through in this new place. It reminds me a little of what my parents probably had to go through when they left Holland to come to America. They were barely married a year or two and then they were in a new land with a new culture and a new language. Abram and his family were going through similar changes with no other close relatives for support, but God rewarded them for their faithfulness. When Abram was 99 years old God reiterated His promise to him and told him that he would have a son even though Sarai was well past child-bearing age. To signify the promise, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning father of many nations. He also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah. “Possibly, the name-change indicates a step from local to global, or specific to general.” (Source: http://www.abarim-publications.com) Because Sarah laughed at the impossibility of the idea, when their son was born, they named him “Isaac,” which means laughter. The name would be a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness to them despite all the odds. But more than physical offspring, God rewarded Abraham in another more spectacular way. Paul said in Romans:

Romans 9:6-8
(6)…For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
(7)  Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
(8)  That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

What he means by this is that the seed of Abraham is not based on physical lineage. It is based on spiritual lineage. The offspring of Abraham are those who share in Abraham’s faith. His faith led ultimately to the birth and lineage of Messiah and all who believe on Him as Abraham did can claim themselves to be the offspring of Abraham. That is millions of people across many generations.

Talk about leveling up!

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Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

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