Summary: President Obama has a place and context in history, as do Christian believers whose time has come in the providence of God.
This week a historic event took place in the USA. An estimated 40 million people worldwide tuned in to watch the inauguration of Senator Barack Obama as President of the USA.
Significant contributions were made to the ceremony including from Rick Warren (Pastor of the Saddleback Community Church whose course material we have used including ’40 Days of Community’. There was also a magnificent prayer prayed by Rev Joseph Lowrie, who was involved in the Civil Rights movement. He prayed saying, “We truly give thanks for the glorious experience we’ve shared this day…..we know that, Lord, you’re able and you’re willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the least of these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these…….help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.”
Barack Obama is not a president in isolation. He is president in a context – president in the context of history.
He is the 44th president in a succession of Presidents from the first president George Washington in 1789.
What is remarkable about his presidency is that it comes so soon after our witnessing the deep racial hatred and discrimination of comparatively recent times shown towards African American descendents of the slave trade. In that sense it reveals the seismic changes that have taken place in the culture of the people of the USA.
All people groups have a history and a context for their place in history. And that includes you and I as Christians, and the Church of which we are a part.
We don’t not stand alone before God in time and space but we stand within a history and tradition. We have ‘become’ the people of God at a time when formerly we were not.
1 Peter 2:9 tells us:
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
What does this actually mean, and how did we get here?
Discovering the truth of what this means helps us realize just how special we are to God.
We have already set out to better understand our relationship with God as revealed in the drama of Scripture.
• In Genesis the curtain is raised and God’s good creation is revealed.
• Then disaster takes place and all that God made that was good is distorted and spoiled through sin
• Now God is about to begin redeem and restore the whole of creation by dealing once and for all with the problem of sin
• God was about to begin a plan by which not only the human soul, but the whole of creation would be saved.
• That plan began with God choosing a people for himself – beginning with Abraham.
• God spoke to Abraham. But would he listen, and would he respond in faith?
READING Genesis 12:1-9
Genesis 15:6 tells us:
Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
ABRAHAM HEARD WHAT GOD WAS SAYING
And it wasn’t the easiest thing to listen to.
Abraham’s Call was a special Call
God’s plan was to form a people for himself out of all the people in the world.
God turned his attention to Abraham.
By doings so he did not give up on everyone else.
Israel was going to be an example – a model.
Israel was going to be called upon to mediate between God and the nations (like a priest).
Through Israel all the nations of the world were to be blessed.
So God began with Abraham and Sarah. God told Abraham, to leave his people and move to a land far away that He would show him. God would make him into a great nation.
This would take faith. He would be leaving the security and protection of his family never to see them again, and he did not know what kind of robbers, thieves and murderers he might encounter.
He had no idea where God would lead them, and everybody must have told him he was fool to just give up everything and leave.
Abraham chose to believe God, so he and his family took off to the land of the Negev where God had led them
Abraham obeyed God even though he did not know where he was going. It was enough to know that God had called him and that God would fulfil his promise to him.
Abraham had set out on a journey of faith in which the trials and difficulties he faced would make his faith grow stronger.