Summary: God did more than start a "religion" with Abraham. He started a "relationship" - a relationship that models what God desires to do in our lives.
OPEN: A third grader once wrote a homework assignment where he was supposed to "Explain God."
"One of God’s main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn’t make grown-ups, just babies. I think because they are smaller and easier to make. That way, He doesn’t have to take up His valuable time teaching them to talk and walk. He can just leave that to mothers and fathers.
God sees everything and hears everything and is everywhere, which keeps Him pretty busy. So you shouldn’t go wasting His time by going over your mom and dad’s head asking for something they said you couldn’t have.
You should always go to Church on Sunday because it makes God happy and if there’s anybody you want to make happy, it’s God.
Don’t skip church to do something you think will be more fun like going to the beach. This is wrong! And, besides, the sun doesn’t come out at the beach until noon anyway.
If you don’t believe in God - besides being an atheist - you will be very lonely because your parents can’t go everywhere with you, like to camp, but God can.
It is good to know He’s around you when you’re scared in the dark or when you can’t swim very good and you get thrown into real deep water by big kids.
But you shouldn’t just always think of what God can do for you. I figure God put me here and He can take me back anytime He pleases. And that’s why I believe in God."
(source: Brian Mavis, quoting Danny Dutton, age 8, from Chula Vista, California)
APPLY: There were several other parts of this 3rd grader’s paper that I didn’t read to you, but the one thing that came through this boy’s explanation of who God was, was this:
This little boy believed in a personal God.
His God makes people.
And He listens to them.
His God is nearby when you’re frightened or lonely.
This is God who cares for you.
ILLUS: Rubel Shelley once quoted a Gallup poll about the way Americans visualize God.
· Some people saw an angry, critical God who was waiting to punish people (about half of those interviewed)
· Others visualized Him as a distant deity, not really interested in what happened to them.
· But about 1/4th of Americans thought about God as a benevolent, caring Father who wants a relationship with them. (Based on “Values and Beliefs of the American Public." A survey done on behalf of Baylor University by the Gallup Organization.)
That last group believed in a God who
* listened to them,
* cared about them,
* who was nearby when they were frightened or lonely.
And THAT’S the kind of God the Bible tells us about.
Here in the 12th chapter of Genesis, we read about one of the most dramatic relationships any man has ever had with God.
A little over a fourth of Genesis is dedicated to telling Abraham’s story. And much of the rest of the Old Testament testifies to his importance (it’s always Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). And the reason Abraham is so important to the people of Old Testament is because God began His covenant with Israel thru him.
Now, this relationship that God had with Abraham was very unique because Abraham wasn’t what you and I would call a “great man”.
He didn’t really deserve all this attention from God.
· Abraham didn’t have any followers or disciples.
· He didn’t write any books that we know of.
· He wasn’t a great teacher or politician or warrior.
· He didn’t even technically begin a “religion”.
In fact, the only real claim to fame Abraham really had was that God chose him… and made special promises to him in Genesis 12.
And what were those promises?
1 I will make you into a great nation.
2. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
3. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.
4. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
5. And - To your offspring I will give this land.
What God was telling Abraham was:
I want a relationship with you.
I want to be there for you.
To listen to you.
I want to walk beside you.
I want to be there when life gets lonely and frightening.
And – more than that – God was promising to make Abraham such a great man that he would even effect the lives of his children, his grandchildren - even the entire world.
To this day, each of the great Western Religions - Judaism, Islam and Christianity - all trace their roots to this one man.