Readings: Genesis 16, Genesis 21: 8-21, Psalm 86: 1-10, 16-17, Colossians 3: 1-17
I think that we are all opportunists by birth, but hopefully we have learned to control our natural instinct to chase after those opportunities that are presented at the expense of the community by the time we reach adulthood. Children will automatically tend to whatever will be most beneficial for them at the expense of the group. They will happily play with a toy offered by a friend until a better toy is offered. There have been so many fights between children who are vying for the better toy when they were playing with great joy moments before that toy had been presented.
We want the best and that is normal. To want the best at the expense of others is immature. To want the best car at the expense of the meals that will no longer be on the family’s table is neither wise nor mature. I can make no boasts about fiduciary management but spending your life paying one debt off by making more debt in another area just so that you can have the best phone or the best jacket or the biggest name brand makes absolutely no sense to me. There will never be rest for your soul because the hunger you have for the things of this world will never be satisfied. Everything gets old and everything has an end and so expending all of your energy just to play with the best toy doesn’t seem to make much sense.
Sarah considered Ishmael to be her child since it seemed Sarah could bear no children of her own. This was accepted by her until Isaac came along. All of a sudden, Ishmael was no longer recognised by her as good enough because in her mind she had something better. After 14 years as being known as the child of the family, Ishmael had become Hagar’s child and as “that woman’s child” he was no longer good enough. We may wonder why Ishmael’s hand was always against his brothers, but I think that fight was started in these moments of rejection, in these moments where one child was placed before the other.
In my work in education and in ministry, one of the hardest things I have had to witness is how easily parents are able to throw their children away. I have seen how children have been treated as less than other children, how children are labelled as children of sin because they are born out of wedlock, how they have been referred to as children of this whore or children of that drunk.
A child of sin does not exist. No child should ever be rejected by family or by community because every single child is a child of love. It does not matter how the child got there; it matters how that child is accepted and loved and taught to love once it is there. I pray for mercy for each adult as we consider the great harm we have wrought on our children, on the children around us and on our community by the many ways in which we reject them, abuse them, mislead them and destroy them. It may take two people to make a child, but it takes a community to raise it well, it takes a community who will come together in order to provide and care and train a child. It takes a community that has found a better way to love because they have met with the One who is love. I pray that God will help us look at the children in our community’s through His eyes and love them as He does.