Friday, December 17, 2010

Humanity’s Indelible Spiritual Identity

“Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer by Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome’.”

~Genesis 32:28 (NIV, 2010).

We’re connected not just via the anatomy and physiology of our red blood cells, eyes and hands. Human connection is established through our eternal hope—the idea that we’re birthed from a mother, that we die one day, and the fact that our spirits come from God and return there.

The Significance of Jacob’s Struggle

Jacob’s context is enticing. The ‘man’—later recognised as possibly an angel of the Lord—picks a fight with him. Jacob’s response is to struggle for his life. God honours him with the name of a great nation; a name with surprising significance.

Jacob’s honoured not so much because of birthright—in context of the verse—but by what he does. The regal stature of his line is backed up in regal action.

Israel’s Significance

It’s easy to underestimate the worth of the concept of Israel. The name is so theologically rich there’s no way we can do justice to it here. But there is one thing that commands our attention.

This passage above shows the nature of Israel is to struggle and to eventually overcome. Indeed, we know from our own lives that struggle is an inherent part of the human experience; that of conquest. There’s no choice in it. We swim or we sink.

Israel has less to do with being Jewish or Christian, perhaps, than it has to do with being appropriately human—that virtuous nature to struggle well. It is easy to see that anyone who struggles hopefully in life is identified with Israel.

Now, this is only one point, but I think you’ll agree that it turns our minds in another more integrative direction... the true direction of the Lord God.

Our Common Spiritual Genome

Those dividers of humanity—the agents of Satan—are set on partition and war. Evil divides to conquer. God’s plan is always about integration under a common bond, at love. This is precisely why God designed life with such commonality intelligently designed into creation.

We cannot get beyond this commonality, and in the end it will be the winning of us. God’s redemptive plan will reach a pulsating finality in it.

A Challenge to Live Aligned to Our Identity

We have a Jacob-like challenge. Best are we to struggle with God and with life. Some might think this is weird. Surely we’re to trust and obey God, and not ‘struggle’ with him?

There is a fact of life beyond this desire to please God. Our brokenness is set against obeying God. Whether we like it or not we will struggle with God and life. It’s our destiny whilst we stride the earth. Jacob did it and so will we.

But God wants to bless us. There is a Divine desire to see us willingly struggle, fighting the good fight. God believes in us; that we can struggle well and succeed. As we employ all the moral virtue at hand we will overcome. We will succeed. That’s the ‘deeper magic’ of God at work against the sirens of Satan.

Our fundamental identity is set in struggling well to overcome. What follows is blessing.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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