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Immerse: Beginnings – Week 4

How does this apply to me?

Deceit, manipulation, jealousy, regret, fear, confession, repentance, reconciliation, atrocity, betrayal, false accusations, imprisonment, changes of heart.

Every one of these things are dealt with and experienced in the portion of Genesis we’re studying this week. In a book which deals with so many generations of God’s people, it certainly covers a multitude of situations… and most of them are detestable.

One of my personal struggles in reading through the Old Testament has always been reconciling how terrible God’s people are to each other with the lessons I need to take away from each situation I read about in those stories. Some of my thoughts usually circle around how a) I don’t need to try to decipher what’s going on because it was so long ago, and b) it doesn’t apply to me because culture is different now.

Yet God gave us this portion of scripture for a reason. Paul reminds us that all scripture is God-breathed (with no exception for the parts that we don’t understand or like very much). In my walk with the Lord, I am consistently convicted, as there are many, many things I still have to learn – even about parts of scripture I thought I never would need to revisit (like Genesis and Exodus). They’re just stories, right?

I don’t know about you, but I have experienced and felt every single one of those first couple of words I wrote. I have lied. I’ve been lied to. I’ve manipulated and been manipulated. I’ve been jealous, I’ve regretted decisions, I’ve been afraid, I’ve confessed, repented, reconciled. I’ve been a victim of the atrocities of the world, and I am guilty of some of them. I’ve betrayed, been betrayed, experienced accusations, been unable to control my situation and changed my heart. We all go through these things.

But Genesis isn’t just about the story. It’s about how God is involved in the grand narrative of the world. God doesn’t leave us alone to live in a world saturated in sin… He steps down from heaven and helps us live in it – and forgives us when we succumb to its culture and traditions. Many things which happened in Genesis were byproducts of a terrible and sinful culture. Some were specific, selfish decisions (like Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery). Our job as readers is to learn what God wanted out of each situation versus what actually happened.

So as you read this week, I want to encourage you to think about how you’ve been living your life. Each of these stories deals with how people are treated. Some are good, some are bad. Are you treating the people around you with respect? Are you living in this world and becoming a part of its culture, or do you live in the world and make your choices based on what God thinks about them? What does God want from YOU? What choices can you make which will honor Him, even if you are wronged? (Again, I think of Joseph).

Colossians 3 tells us as God’s people, we should set our hearts and minds on things above, not on earthly things, and we should clothe ourselves with “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another… Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love” (3:13-14). Let us live in such a way.

- Karissa Mead