Made not earned
1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Who was Abram? He was a Shemite who was descended from Noah. He lived in Ur of the Chaldees and was an idolator (Joshua 24:2). After his dad died, he continued a journey, called by God out of Ur, out of idolatry and into Canaan.
To be honest, there is nothing “special” about Abram. That is, there is nothing in his DNA that would indicate he could be a patriarch of a nation. That’s not to say he didn’t lead his family. It’s not to say he wasn’t a good man. It’s just to say there were many other Shemite idolators who could have been chosen by God.
In fact, the Bible records the distrust of Abram (and later, as Abraham) so as not to give the impression that this was a morally perfect person. Twice, he told leaders that his wife was his sister (a half-truth since they had the same father) in Genesis chapters 12 and 20. We are not even told if he was sorry for the repeated deception.
What to make of this flawed patriarch? Is he worthy of the admiration bestowed upon him?
The story of Abram is no story at all without the call and promises of God. His story would be one of numerous stories that wouldn’t even be worth writing about. It was (and is) the God of Abram who is worth writing about. It is the interaction between these two which holds interest.
In fact, Abram is a forgettable figure if it wasn’t for the interactions he has with the living God of the universe. And, like the earlier story of creation, Abram’s story is one of re-creation. An idolator becomes a worshiper of the true God. And how did this happen? By his faith?
Remember, it is the promise of God Abram accepts and believes. The external word of God spoken into his earballs. Without the promise, without the spoken word, there is no faith. His reaction was credited to him as righteousness, but it was God who made Abram into Abraham, worthy in His sight. It is God alone who makes people acceptable in His sight.
And, how does He do this now? Through Word and Sacrament, in Christ’s name.