The Spiritual Practice of Martial Arts
Aug 6, 2017 - Jared Jaggers
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We have been examining the story of Jacob on and off for a several Sundays now, and we’ve seen Jacob’s tendency to be a manipulator. He will use the people around him and exploit their weaknesses for his own gain at any opportunity – most obviously when he swindled his own brother out of his birthright as the first-born.
In Genesis 32, we see a different side of Jacob as he is traveling toward a reunion with his brother, and we see a different way of understanding success than his greed for domination earlier in life. Jacob spends the night wrestling with God and receives a new name and a blessing as one who has wrestled with God and humans, and has prevailed. However, in prevailing he was badly injured and he merely held on tight and refused to quit.
In our Christian faith, success is defined much more like Jacob’s wrestling match than his previous domination. Likewise, we have a hard time developing metrics for faith than we do for professional or financial success. It’s hard to measure Christian faithfulness, but this story implies that wrestling with God and what we are called to do in life is a key part of living our faith.
When life is challenging and God seems nowhere to be found, we have to grapple with who we think God is and why these things happen to us. When we see injustices in the world around us, we have to struggle to discern what God is calling us to do about it. This hard and persistent work is faithfulness to the Christian life.
Food for Thought:
- Some of us are currently dealing with situations that make us doubt and wrestle with God. Know that you are not alone, and consider if talking with someone may help you. Contact a trusted friend or HPUMC minister this week for support.
- What are some concepts about who God is that don’t seem to match your experiences of God? Wrestle with these things and consider where God may be speaking to you in that struggle.
- What things cause some anxiety or frustration for you? What issues in our world do you wrestle with? Is God inviting you to participate in sharing the gospel through some volunteering or service?
May you wrestle with whatever life brings this week to discover the transforming power of the gospel in you and for those around you. May you breathe deeply of God’s love and grace, and then go into the world and exhale. Amen.