that gives you roots
and how it works
The second of the seven game-changers celebrated in the SYNC annual cycle is God making a promise to Abraham about 4000 years ago. That promise gives us our roots--our identity and purpose. That is what we celebrate in Roots Season.
We live as part of the fulfillment of that ancient promise. That is who we are--fruitful branches on the Abraham family tree. It doesn't matter whether we are his descendants genetically or spiritually, as long as we see ourselves rooted in him and his story.
If up till now you have written Abraham off as an ancient inconsequential figure, we invite you to take another look. If through an open-minded read of the 5Gs below, you discover that his story is a game-changer in the history of the world, you may also discover a new identity and a new purpose.
If the 5Gs are true, God's promise to Abraham can turn us into authentic human beings, peacefully and confidently working for the good of the whole planet and everyone on it. The gift is there for the taking.
1G - Game-changer
God created his own campaign team to bless the world. The game changed.
With one promise to Abraham in Genesis 12.1-3, God switched from a parental relationship with humans ("rules and punishments," Genesis 1-11) to a "campaign" relationship, which continues through the rest of the Bible. God announced that through Abraham he would create a sub-group of the human race, connect it tightly to himself, and bless the whole world through it.
Why are so many people 4000 years behind the times?
Many people, including many Christians, are clueless about this game-changing promise God made to Abraham. They think the world is still in the old pre-Abrahamic game where God was like a cosmic parent, helping his human children toward maturity by making the rules, blessing the kids when they do well, and punishing them when they don't.
God only used the parental strategy long enough for us all to see that it does not get us anywhere. It spins its wheels in an ugly cycle that goes like this:
God's parental command
Human failure to keep the command
God's judgment for failure
God's mercy gives another chance
Human failure again, as if we learned nothing from the last cycle
This cycle of failure is repeated over and over in Genesis 2-11, the first 1% of the Bible. But 4000 years ago God broke the cycle, changing the game by launching a different strategy.
So what is this other strategy?
It's more pro-active. Instead of just laying down the law and then reacting to humans as they do well or badly, God takes the initiative. He launches his campaign. He declares that Abraham will become the forefather of God's own group of people (his "campaign team"), and that the team's assignment is to bless all human beings and groups, even those who are not team members.
God, the campaign team, and other humans/groups are the three "main characters" of the biblical story. The rest of the Bible (99%, from Genesis 12 onward) is the story of the ways that God's campaign progressed and is still playing out.
The campaign strategy does not entirely replace the parental strategy. God still gives some of his blessing and healing to all humans directly, and he still punishes sometimes. The lion's share of his blessing, however, goes to his campaign team to pass on to the rest of the world. He also makes it possible for outsiders to become descendants of Abraham spiritually and join the team.
2G - Gift
The promise of a team was a gift to Abraham, and it gives us a deeply rooted identity.
God's game-changing promise went beyond Abraham's wildest dreams. Abraham did not see it coming and had done nothing to earn it. God just said, in effect, "You are the man. You will have millions of descendants and they will bless every family on the planet."
This whole campaign started as a gift and it comes to us today as a gift. We have the privilege of joining something so huge, so ancient, and so good--God's campaign team! What could be more secure and significant?
Christ, the descendant of Abraham who opened the door to the Abraham family so we could be adopted into it. The cards remind us of this, and it has an almost magical effect on us. In SYNC with Christ, we belong. We participate in the family's mission. Out of SYNC, we would not have a share in any of it. We would be left out like strangers at a family reunion.
In other words, we have roots! We get to be fruitful branches on an ancient family tree, the "Abraham tree." Even if some other group excludes us, we can fall back on the fact that we are included in the one group that really matters, the campaign team.
We never have to worry about feeling lost or aimless because we know we belong to a meaningful group and we share in its special assignment to bless the world. We get the joy of blessing others, healing old wounds, making connections, sharing life. What a gift!
3G - Get it.
We recognize that a gift this huge and undeserved obligates us, the recipients, to God, the giver.
If we win the lottery, we can do whatever we want with the money. But when we receive a personal gift, we have to consider who gave it to us and why. Abraham got that.
He realized that because of the gift, he owed God a debt of gratitude and trust. And if we are privileged to be adopted into the team, we owe the same debt.
If we "get it," we realize how amazing a gift this game-changer was and is. Humans were failing time after time to learn the lessons God was teaching them through commands and punishment (Genesis 3-11). So in Genesis 12, God starts his campaign team, and he starts it from nothing! He goes to a childless old couple and tells them they are his choice as the "parents" of the team.
All they have to do is trust him, and they do not have to do this up front in order to be selected for this special mission. God selects them first; they trust him later. They respond by trusting the promises he gives them and obeying the things he tells them, even when those things do not make sense from a human point of view.
In case we didn't get that from Abraham's story, the death of Jesus on the cross makes it even more obvious and vivid. And Jesus's death opens the way for people of all ethnicities to be adopted into Abraham's spiritual family and share in the family mission. We don't have to feel like outsiders at a family reunion any more.
When that realization hits us, it is the "ah-ha moment," and something inside us changes. It is like we have been born for a second time, and had some of our DNA altered. We are included in the team because God gave us that DNA, that faith of Abraham, and it makes us spiritual descendants of Abraham.
That Abrahamic faith-DNA is exactly what the first humans did not have. People who have not joined the team still do not have it. But the team does. We know what our roots are, and the world we live in will never look the same to us again.
4G - Go with it
Once we "get it" and realize our true identity, we participate as members of God's campaign team.
The Spirit--the first half of "going with" this game-changer
Jesus, the campaign leader, empowers and guides his campaign team by putting his Spirit into each team member and among us as a group. The Spirit knows how to get through to each of us in a way we will understand and how to pull us together as a team.
Sticking to the Bible is half of the story of "Going with" the campaign. The other half is the work of the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit he puts into each team member to turn us into a different kind of human being and to give us our personal niche assignments in the campaign, one day or one minute at a time.
If you have not experienced that kind of guidance, think of it as being similar to your conscience. The conscience tells you what not to do. The Spirit prompts you with what to do. You just know it is the right thing.
For example, "Give this gift." "Talk to that person." "Ponder this idea." "Watch for such-and-such today." This specific guidance is for you at the moment, not for anyone else at any other time. When you are on the team, you get this guidance and you "Go with" it.
Listening for our next assignment means that our lives never get boring. There is always so much "blessing work" left to do in this messed-up world, and we never know what the Spirit will assign to us next.
But we still are not anxious, overwhelmed, or stressed out. The Spirit who sets us on fire for campaign work never makes us burn out. Burnout comes only when we pile a hundred things on ourselves that are not actually our assignments from the Spirit. If we do a better job of listening to the Spirit, we know which assignments have our name on them and which ones don't. Best anxiety drug ever!
The second half--the Bible
We also have the Bible to give us (1) the big picture of the connect-heal-bless campaign (that's basically what the whole Bible is); and( 2) the instructions that apply to all team members at all times.
When the big picture and the instructions are properly understood and followed, the campaign works toward its goals to connect, heal, and bless. When the Bible is misconstrued or disregarded, the team can disgrace the campaign. That is what happened with the medieval Crusades against Muslims. The Crusades were about dominating, not connecting; attacking, not healing; and seizing, not blessing.
With the Spirit and the Bible as our guides and with other team members as our partners, we "follow Jesus," that is, we "go with" him and his campaign purpose to connect, heal, and bless. This gives us a deep sense of significance, though it is also an awesome responsibility. If we are on a demo and delivery team, we had better demo and deliver. We can't just show up for the team photo!
Our gratitude never ends because we are living the dream, thrilled to have a share in knocking death out of the world and pouring life in. We get to be in on healing old wounds and preventing new ones. We get the privilege of bringing blessings of all kinds to those around us. We get to put out the word that others can join the team just like we did.
5G - Genuineness
As we "go with it," we become fulfillments of God's promise to bless the world through Abraham's descendants, fruitful branches on the Abraham family tree
We find our authentic identity in the campaign team led by Jesus the Messiah. We are 100% genuine people, sold out to Jesus who died for the campaign and who lives to keep leading it. We live for the team purpose.
Neither are we imagining that we are the saviors of the world. We are genuinely participating in saving the world, but only as the Spirit of Jesus directs us and the power of Jesus flows through us. We can't take any credit for any of this.
When we live as part of the campaign team, we are fulfillments of God's ancient promise to bless the world, and everything is as it should be. We are authentic human beings, grateful to the good God for making us spiritual descendants of Abraham and assigning us to carry his goodness to the whole human race.
We are fruitful people, in SYNC with God's intentions when he made that original promise to bless the world through Abraham. We have roots.