Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Reflective, Not Reflexive

One of the things brought out in Out Of The Question... is that the love relationship God desires with us is to be "reflective, not simply reflexive", that this is the kind of relationship we want with our children, the kind of obedience we want them to have. Do I obey God out of duty - have to - or out of relationship - want to? Can I count on my kids to follow what we say because they have to, or because they want to?

So I'm reading the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, noticing, as Sweet wrote, that there's no recorded interaction between father and son after the momentous occasion of the sacrifice, the obedience, the salvation, the place name "the Lord Will Provide" being attached to the hill itself. On into chapter 24, Abraham sends his servant instead of talking directly to Isaac, and a suitable spouse is found - but the father is no part of the union, even as Rebekah is now able to comfort Isaac in the loss of his mom (24:67). Then Abraham died, too - leaving everything to Isaac, but also giving gifts to the children of his concubines and sending them away (25:1-5).... wait, there were more kids?!? There was Ishmael and there was Isaac - and then there were more children like Ishmael? What happened? Did he fall back into disobedience, doing the same thing as before and thinking it was still somehow "God's will"? In this "new way of reading" the story, it looks like Abraham dropped the ball - he's estranged from his son, loses his wife, sleeps around *again*, and dies. He's honored among the people of the countryside (Gen. 23), but he's seemingly miserable in his homelife.

I want my children to be reflective of my relationship with God, reflective of my relationship with themselves, not just reflexive and instinctual in reacting to my commands/demands. When I call them to calm down this evening, will their kneejerk reaction be to freeze in fear of daddy's wrath, or will they simmer down because inside they know it's pleasing to me? That's what I'm seeing right now as the diff between reflexive and reflective - I want them to know me, not just listen to what I say, or just follow my guidelines. Actually, listening to what I say would be a great start most of the time. But I've got to re-evaluate my emphasis on listening: "did you hear me? what did I say?"... make a change over to "did you get my point? do you know why I asked?"Maybe I need to give them room to argue and to work it out in relationship, being careful to watch for defiance but also giving a little slack from time to time, just like God did to Moses, to Abraham, to others in the scriptures.

Abraham's actions were still filled with profound faith. The Hebrews 11 passage on his faithfulness gives him some vindication, so I'm not going to fall completely off the wagon and say he's not a good guy anymore - and I don't think Len Sweet is either. It's just that, like Moses going too far and not being able to enter the Promised Land, and like David not being in the right place and falling into adultery and murder - well, Abraham might've had this as a dark instance in his life that messed up his closest relationships to family and to the Father from that point on. One would think that the crisis would draw people closer together... but sometimes it tears us apart.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are some really good insights. I'm trying to learn how to "read" the Bible instead of just read it. Our Sunday school teacher is going through the life of David and he's pointing out some things that I never would've thought of. Of course, he's an OT prof at Dallas Theological Seminary, so he really knows his stuff. He said we're going to look at David as a human, not whitewash his shortcomings and sins, and not look at him only as "a man after God's own heart". I like getting into the deep down of things like this.


9/12/04 8:40 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home