I have a friend who says that when a chauvinist becomes a Christian he becomes a Christian chauvinist. When a selfish, self-centered person becomes a Christian, he/she becomes a selfish, self-centered Christian. There’s no surprise in that. It’s the truth. No change is required for any of us to be redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. In fact, it is Jesus Himself who says that He’s come to save the sick and the lost. Thank God, because that’s who we are!
But that’s not to say that the Holy Spirit, who indwells every true believer, is inert. He is an active God who does everything in His power to change us. He uses His power to remake us into the image of Jesus and that’s a dramatic change. In fact, it’s the change that grabs the attention of anyone whose eyes are not fixed squarely on themselves.
I know a white man who decided to go to Haiti on a Hebron-sponsored mission trip because he didn’t like Black people. I know a man who was an executive of a Fortune 100 company who traveled the country with dozens of women who weren’t his wife, with the sole purpose of accumulating wealth, who today is thoroughly devoted to his wife of more than 60 years and never hesitates to give his wealth away.
I could go on and on describing the changes I have seen the Holy Spirit make in a life. I could tell you of legalistic Christians who were adamant about gender roles, who today live by the words of Paul in Galatians 3:28. I could tell of Christians who used to read the Scriptures to glean moralistic lessons they imposed on the hearts and minds of others, who now know the truth—the Gospel of Jesus Christ eschews such false hermeneutics. The point is that Holy Spirit produced change. In fact, change is the name of the game in the Christian life. As the great congresswoman from Texas, Barbara Jordan, once famously said, “Today, everyone is talking about change. But the question I ask is, ‘From what, to what?’” That’s the same question the Bible asks obsessively throughout its 1042 pages (ESV Bibles in the pews).
This Sunday we are back again in the Book of Genesis, in chapter 33, looking at the dramatic change the Lord wrought in Jacob. By this time he’s secured the birthright and blessing. He’s been to Bethel and seen a ladder to heaven with angels ascending and descending. He’s wrestled all night with the stranger and had his identity recast from selfish crook to selfless servant. The change is DRAMATIC and nowhere is it more clearly seen than in his long-feared encounter with his older brother, Esau.
In a message entitled, “Life with a Limp,” we are going to dig deeply into the change and see what it looks like in the life of a Spirit-led believer. In preparation for Sunday, you may wish to consider the following:
1. Few people in the Bible are more associated with divine blessing than Jacob. Would you agree?
2. How about Esau? How blessed is he?
3. Who wrestled with Jacob in chapter 32?
4. What differences can you find between Jacob’s gait after Bethel (chapter 28) and Paniel (chapter 32)?
5. Why does Jacob bow down in Genesis 33:3? What’s “bowing down” mean?
6. What’s the significance of bowing seven times?
7. Who does Esau resemble in verse 4?
8. What change is evident in Jacob by his description of his children in verse 5?
9. What is the ground of Jacob’s gift in verse 10?
10. How does Jacob see his life in verse 11?
See you Sunday!