(12:1) And Yahweh said to Abram, “Go from your land and from your kin and from the house of your father to the land that I will show you. (2) I will make of you a great nation. 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 those who treat you with contempt I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”
God’s promise to Abram comes with little in the way of introduction. All of a sudden God tells Abram to leave everything he is familiar with and travel to a land that God will show him as he is on his way there. By the world’s standards, this is not just irresponsible but stupid. Even Christians have difficulty accepting when one of their Christian friends or family members decides to take a dramatic leap of faith. “Yeah, sure, trust God,” they say, “but you have to be wise, too. Would God ask you to do something so risky? Doesn’t common sense tell you that you have to be careful and protect yourself?”
What God tells Abram to do is certainly is not the way the people of Babel (in Genesis 11:1-9) approached life. They built a city and a tower not only for the purpose of protecting themselves from being scattered over the earth but also (if you read carefully) to create a monument to their own power and god-likeness. Abram and Babel are polar opposites in Genesis.
Certainly, it is dangerous to risk everything because you think God wants you to. It is risky to follow Jesus and take up our cross, to be willing to lose everything – even to die – for the sake of God’s good news when all of our senses and society around us scream at us that this good news is just wishful thinking, that the world works a particular way and you just need to conform. But that risk comes with a promised reward. God not only promised Abram greatness and blessing, but he delivered on that promise. What’s more, this promise is not just to Abram but to all of Abram’s spiritual descendants in Christ. Today, too, God offers us blessing, fruitfulness, protection, purpose, and life. We just have to follow God’s direction, even – make that especially – when that direction goes against the grain of the world’s common sense.