It’s Not About Me
By Ali Martin
I’m a list freak. Every day I organise my life with a series of them – to-do today, to-do this week, to-do urgently… But there is a type of list that doesn’t always fill me with as much joy and that’s the kind we encounter in our Old Testament reading today (Abraham’s sons, Ishmael’s descendents).
It’s not the first time we’ve come across a lot of names like this, and in fact compared to, say , Genesis 5, today we get off lightly. But there is more coming, much more. As we read on in our bible this year there are going to many days where most of our reading time is taken up with name after name…. So what’s the deal?
When God called Abraham it was about a nation not an individual. Often times when we encounter a list of names in the Old Testament it’s a way of showing us Israel’s history, how a nation came about and where certain families and stories fit into God’s bigger picture. What can offend our modern thinking is that the bible doesn’t go into the detail of every person in a family, but just the first-born son. As a 2nd born daughter this could be irritating to me, but actually the individual isn’t the point. The first-born son represented the whole family so it was enough just to name him. It wouldn’t have been offensive in the culture of the day. Receiving a bible shout-out was not what they were hoping for – The privilege was being part of Gods story, full stop.
In our New Testament reading we encountered a new list, all be it a lot shorter – the 12 disciples. We know very little about these 12 guys – their names, the odd profession or maybe a snippet of family background. Again, the big deal is not the individual but their part in God’s bigger picture, their call to fulfil his mission, the part they got to play in his Kingdom coming.
For us today and as we read on this year let’s try to hold on to the fact that though we as people matter to God what is of much more significance is God’s story. When we grasp that it’s all about him and not so much about us we won’t need to grab for an individual blessing like Jacob. We are free from ‘me’.