sexta-feira, 28 de agosto de 2015


Abraham built an altar there
and arranged the wood on it.
He bound his son Isaac
and laid him on the altar,
on top of the wood.
Then he reached out his hand
and took the knife to slay his son.

Genesis 22:9-10 (read22:1-19) - NIV

Here we have the story of a father willing to kill his own son because God told him to do so. It is also a story of a child being traumatized by being tied up and seeing his own father raise a knife to be stabbed into his chest. Abraham used a lie to lure his son to accompany him, but returned home without his son's company. The biblical account brings together father and son again only at the father's funeral occasion. The trauma separated the child from his father. This story comes from a very different culture than ours and points to Abraham as being a hero of faith. For our culture this behavior would be judged as madness, absurdity and insanity. Today Abraham would be seen as a danger to society and be candidate to be admitted to a hospice or incarcerated in a penal institution for the remainder of his life.

However, in this story there is a personality element that operates in both cultures. Some people feel the need to prove their faith. Abraham was giving proof of his faith. The problem is that this "proof of faith" would be a burden to the lives of others. This was a negative proof that did not do anything constructive. It was destructive. Sarah died soon afterward, and Isaac became a very passive figure. The episode only damaged their personalities.

Our own culture also has its "proofs of faith", some of which are:

·       Dedication to religious activities.

·       Faithful attendance at services and prayer meetings.

·       The gift of leadership (manipulation).

·       Possession of spiritual gifts: prophecy, tongues and miracles, etc.

·       Fads: holy laughter, power of touch, encounter with God, etc.

These are some of the elements associated with faith. The intensity the manifestations of these elements indicate the level of faith. In Brazil Protestants are proud of their growth in the last hundred years, especially in recent decades. 25% of the population professes the evangelical faith. It's hard to find a neighborhood or without at least one evangelical church. Large temples are common in urban centers. Radio and TV are saturated with evangelical programs.

To what extent are these manifestations of faith constructive in our social reality?

Religiously devout parents can jeopardize their children when the church becomes more important than the home. How many children of believers want nothing to do with the church because of the inconsistencies of their parents? How many children of pastors ignore the church or see it with dislike because it robbed them of their father? Human relationships can "sour" when "principles" and religious "beliefs" take place of love for neighbor. How many believers are seen as boring and weird people for being finger pointing and anti-social because of their religion? Communities may be impaired when churches are isolated and form "ghettos" of religious fervor. It is significant when the growing number of evangelicals is accompanied by the increase of violence, crime and corruption. Many evangelical politicians are involved in embezzlement and scandals. The "manifestations of faith" only serve to make its practitioners feel more holy, but bring little benefit to the lives of others.

Faith is not self-assertion. True faith leads us to be blessings to those around us. True faith is manifested by compassionate and ethical living in the world, not by churchy religious practices. "God so loved the world that..." Our challenge is to love the world as Jesus loved it.



Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”

Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.

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