Genesis 20 Part 4 Real Life

Real Life is where a passage from the Bible is meant to be applied.  People can be quite arrogant or ignorant in their use of the phrase ‘real life’.  For example, when I was a student at college, those who were working in careers would often look down their noses at me and say, “Wait to you get out into the real world,”  or “Wait to see if that works in ‘real life.’  The truth is that they defined their own lives as real and were decidedly egocentric.  The problems of depression, alcohol abuse, or sexual promiscuity are real problems whether they are experienced in a dorm room or a new apartment.  Real life happens in many locations and has many ways it plays out.

We also tend to look at the past like it was less real than the present.  Of course, ‘Once upon a time …’ usually means the story that follows is not real life in one sense.  If we know that a series of events happened a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away the following battles are not real.  However, as Jorge Santayana said that those who do not remember the past are destined to repeat it.  We look to those who lived real life in the past to help us understand how to live real life in the present.  The stories of the Bible are dismissed as myth or fable by some.  However, those who accept the historicity of the Bible accept that it teaches us most about a real life lived before a real God.  We need to draw principles from lives lived millennia ago so that our present millennium is lived well.  However, I get the impression that Millennials are living more and more rooted in the present.  YOLO (you only live once) and Carpe Diem (seize the day) are slogans that have an element of truth to them.  Ecclesiastes includes similar advice.  However, eyes that see beyond time to eternity are becoming less.  The material realities of a frenzied world with multiple tasks performed simultaneously overwhelms the senses and dulls reflection.  Existential wisdom is shelved for the immediate gains of practical wisdom.  Appearing wise we have become fools.  There are less people in the west who have minds capable of embracing God.  More young men let the imaginations of others lead them into gaming vistas.  More young ladies let the movies transport them to a romantic fantasy.  More old people are dying alienated and alone with white knuckles clinging to a 401k for security.  Somehow we call this absurd degradation real life.  These are a shadow of the real. Reality is found in Christ.

The Christ-centered plan for God’s salvation was laid in ages past.  Abraham had a hope given to him that his offspring would be a blessing to the nations.  Abraham was to bless the nations.  However, he was a real man with real fears.  When those around him did not share his faith, he decided that silence about God was the best way to avoid conflict.  Gerar, his new home, had no fear of God as far as he could tell.  His own fears led him to hold loosely to religion and to take practical steps to ensure his own safety.  He lied.  It was a half-truth, but half-truths are the most effective lies.  We have all been wounded by truths told with spite or half-truths where the sting in the tale is revealed only in its later telling.  Outright lies tend to be more obvious.  It takes God to expose a half-truth – at least it did for Abimelech.

Sexual intrigue, religious pluralism, fear of reprisal, half truths.  This is real life.  The lessons learned by Abraham are lessons which applied to the original recipients of Genesis.  These lessons also apply to us.  Freud suggested sexual liberty as a healing for the nations.  For centuries the primacy of Christianity as the religion in the west has been crumbling.  Now the fastest rising position of faith is to have faith in no faith.  Apathetic atheism has seeped into private life from public silence about God.  Like Abraham, our fears encourage us to keep our distinctive beliefs to ourselves.  Attempts to coexist or tolerate have resulted in a new creed which is post-Christian moralistic, therapeutic, and deistic.  In Sunday school children are taught that Jesus is The Way, The Truth, The Life.  However, by the end of their assimilation Jesus has become an inoffensive way, a truth, a life.  When the faith revealed by God is emptied of its distinctives it ceases to reveal the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

However, the passage teaches us that God will not be silenced.  Even half-hearted evangelists will be prophets to a pluralist society.  God brings affliction when the world wanders along its own sweet path.  God brings healing when the hearts of the humble bow low.  My heart is divided and my will is weak because my flesh is fatigued.  However, I belong to Jehovah, the God who used Abraham.  The God who took Abraham’s story and transformed it into a destiny with promise can take my life lived in 21st century commerce.  He does not promise the blessing of a car, a swimming pool, or a plane.  He promises the blessing of significance.  Our lives will be a path walked by the divine even as our flesh wastes away.  Our words will carry a wisdom that transcends our textbooks because it will reflect the life of the Spirit.  As the world fades to darkness the light of the faith shines brighter and with more distinction.  Even through Abraham’s folly he is shown to be a servant of the God who closes and opens wombs.

Give us ears to hear and eyes to see the God who has created life.  Give us courage to apply God’s world to the real life that we are living.  Help us to learn from ages past and apply the word to reveal the Way.  May we fix our eyes on Scripture’s Truth.  May we lead others from the falsehood of technologically enhanced consumerism into the arms of the one who is Real Life.

Prayer

May we remember that you are real.  May we take our eyes off of our material obsessions and live for something bigger than ourselves.

Questions

  1. What events in Genesis 20 are most like real life today?
  2. What events or details in Genesis 20 seem farthest from life today?
  3. What do people mean when they talk about real life as opposed to simply ‘life’?
  4. How is the life portrayed in fiction still helpful in facing real life?
  5. How can we make sure that biblical truth connects with real life?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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15 Responses to Genesis 20 Part 4 Real Life

  1. Megumi says:

    1. I think it is very common today, as was the case of Abraham, for people who should be trusting God to lack practical faith try and solve their own dilemmas apart from Him.
    2. I do not think I am in danger of my husband handing me over to a foreign king.
    3. People who make a distinction between some people’s lives and “real life” are usually implying that “real life” is harder.
    4. In fiction, you can face scenarios that are similar to and therefore prepare one for real life. You can encounter ideas, conflicts, tradgedies, decisions, and evils in a safer context so that if you encounter these in real life you have a model of how to deal with them.
    5. We apply biblical truth to life so that it effects us in a real and practical way.

  2. Michael McCardle says:

    What events in Genesis 20 are most like real life today?
    Abraham lying about who his wife is. Abraham doubting the protection of God for him and his wife. Abraham only being concerned about his own safety rather than Sarah’s (self-centered).
    What events or details in Genesis 20 seem farthest from life today?
    God coming to Abimelech in a dream.
    What do people mean when they talk about real life as opposed to simply ‘life’?
    Simple life is the the stuff that just happens. Real life is doing hard work and having to deal with crappy stuff or growing up.
    How is the life portrayed in fiction still helpful in facing real life?
    Fiction gives us examples of problem solution thinking.
    How can we make sure that biblical truth connects with real life?
    By studying historical background, context, culture and finding the true exegetical meaning of the passage in regards to those things. When we fully understand the context, then we can cross the bridge into today’s world.

    A second thing is this. We can only know God through Christ. We must see God through the “lens” (for lack of better word) of Christ. In order to connect biblical truth to our lives, we must see our lives through that same theological lens.

  3. Christa says:

    1. What events in Genesis 20 are most like real life today? I think that the underlying themes of fear and lying are very common in real life today.
    2. What events or details in Genesis 20 seem farthest from life today? The dream given by God seems more distant from real life simply because I have not experienced it; also the king’s multiple wife household is not a common experience in western culture
    3. What do people mean when they talk about real life as opposed to simply ‘life’? they often are referring to the deeper experiences of people rather than just the overall sense of “life”
    4. How is the life portrayed in fiction still helpful in facing real life? Life portrayed in fiction can often deal with themes and issues that people face in “real life” in a more profound and thought-provoking way
    5. How can we make sure that biblical truth connects with real life? We need to remember that the word of God is living and active in our lives regardless of the time difference of thousands of years; the struggles and sins that our biblical “ancestors” dealt with are still the struggles and sins that we deal with today

  4. 1. I think today as always people take their protection into their own weak hands, attempting to protect themselves or prove themselves strong instead of relying on the faithfulness of God. I know I struggle with this myself.
    2. God speaking so directly to Abimelech seems kind of distant.
    3. They are often referring to what they are experiencing in that moment or stretch of time. I think it connects with what you said about the past seeming distant or dream like. We don’t consider what we have already gone through or what others have or are going through as real because we don’t take the time to sincerely attempt to understand or feel compassion to the best of our ability because we are so consumed with our personal present.
    4. Fiction, like novels, can be practice for life. When we read we are hopefully engaged and connected with the character, putting our self in that situation. When I read Jane Eyre I was engaged and given a glimpse into her thoughts. I’ve obviously never been in her situation, but her dignity is beautiful and I’ve thought about it, hopefully enough to incorporate that kind of dignity throughout my life.
    5. When we read or think about the Word of God, we need to be purposefully making connections and realizing the reality of it. There needs to be a unity in our thinking between the Bible and all of the saints who have gone before us and our lives today. That’s part of why it is so cool that God used people like Abraham who weren’t perfect. It allows us to better recognize the reality and messiness of their lives and see the connection and need for the Savior in our own.

  5. Christina W. says:

    1. Lying for the protection of self, lack of trust in God, and doubt of the promises of God.
    2. God coming to Abimelech in a dream.
    3. I think that often people are talking about the day to day struggles and routines of life when they talk about “real life.”
    4. Life portrayed in fiction can be helpful because it can show certain situations that people are dealing with in “real life” in a different way. In a way, it shows the situation from beginning to end which can also be helpful. You can see how various characters made it through various situations and were successful or you can see how they failed and learn from their mistakes.
    5. We can connect the biblical truth to real life by getting the main idea out of a passage and applying that to our lives today.

  6. Maelynn says:

    1. The lying and lack of trust in God.
    2. An unbelieving man listening to and hearing from the one true God.
    3. The hard, dirty, and worldly parts of life.
    4. Well, it can often be used as a symbol or representation of real life.
    5. By remembering that our reality is found in Christ.

  7. Today, like in Genesis 20, people have a lack of trust in God and try to solve their problems without God. An event in Genesis 20 that seems distant is the direct speaking to Abimilech from God; this is something that I don’t hear of often: an unbeliever hearing directly from God and listening. When I hear people talk about “real life”, I think they are usually referring to the struggles of everyday life. Life portrayed in fiction can help the reader understand and emulate the characters as they deal with situations that may be similar to those of the characters. We must make sure that the Bible connects with our reality because the Bible is the one true “life guide” and the stories of the Bible show us how real people of God dealt with real life situations.

  8. Maria T. says:

    1. What events in Genesis 20 are most like real life today? The fear, the lack of belief in God, the lie, and God’s undeserved blessing.
    2. What events or details in Genesis 20 seem farthest from life today? When I read this story, I am always surprised that God blessed a marriage between a brother and a sister. It was not incestuous for Abraham and Sarah to be married.
    3. What do people mean when they talk about real life as opposed to simply ‘life’? I don’t think people are really thinking about what they mean. It seems that they are thinking real life is something deep, personal, and significant as it shapes the future. Often people portray real life as something seen without bias, and so it is often viewed pessimistically. But because life is found in Christ, life is good. It is real because of who He is. In that sense, people are right that it is deep and shaping the future.
    4. How is the life portrayed in fiction still helpful in facing real life? Writers can develop an understanding of emotions and help bring new thoughts to bear on real life. Stories are an essential tool to better understand one another and the ways in which life plays out.
    5. How can we make sure that biblical truth connects with real life? By always connecting with the One who gives life. If we have Him as our focus, the biblical truth is relevant because He speaks in His word, and He does not speak in a vacuum. He speaks to us.

  9. Molly says:

    1. What events in Genesis 20 are most like real life today? Not trusting God, and the lack of faith in Him.
    2. What events or details in Genesis 20 seem farthest from life today? My husband giving me over to the hands of another.
    3. What do people mean when they talk about real life as opposed to simply ‘life’? I think they are referring to the hard things in life, the temptations, addictions and mundane attributes that describe their narrative.
    4. How is the life portrayed in fiction still helpful in facing real life? Life portrayed in fiction can often deal with “real life” in ways that resonate with all of us.
    5. How can we make sure that biblical truth connects with real life? We can make sure this connects with us by connecting to the Living God.

  10. Jung Kim says:

    1.What events in Genesis 20 are most like real life today? Lack of trust and truth
    2.What events or details in Genesis 20 seem farthest from life today? The fact that God directly speaks with Abimelech.
    3.What do people mean when they talk about real life as opposed to simply ‘life’? I think they are referring to a hard, boring, yet busy life that they are now living in,
    4.How is the life portrayed in fiction still helpful in facing real life? It can always be an example of the real life.
    5.How can we make sure that biblical truth connects with real life? According to me, Jesus is the real life. Thus, life itself will be highly relevant to biblical truth, because of who Jesus is (the Way, the Life, and the Truth; Jn. 14:6). Be mindful of this truth!

  11. Emmy R says:

    1. Doubting and Lying.
    2. God’s direct conversation in a way that we are not used to.
    3. They are referring to the rough and tough of life compared to the easy life.
    4. They deal with similar situations.
    5. By reading the Word with eyes of application.

  12. 1. Not trusting God and “half-truthing” your way through life.
    2.God speaks to Abraham in a way we have not experienced. He did not carry a Bible with him, but was spoken to directly by God.
    3. That Real life is more difficult, more challenging, more fulfilling, more worth whatever you are spending your time doing now.
    4. We can get ideas from fictitious stories, and see how people may react in a certain situation and go from there, but they may not always act rightly.
    5. We can make sure biblical truth connects with real life but understanding who God is, who we are and act in a way that we know we belong to Him. It takes knowing God, by reading his WORD, to be able to live accordingly.

  13. Andrew Moore says:

    1. Lives full of half truths, religious pluralism and immorality.
    2. The fact that God communicated to Abraham always directly, rather than through his word.
    3. They are trying to refer to a life that is difficult, rather than a life that is simple run of the mill.
    4. It is very possible to create compelling, interesting moral decision for character to wrestle with, and this can help us as we wrestle with these same choices.
    5. By dwelling on the word and by looking for similar situations in our own lives.

  14. Nate Silvieus says:

    1. Lying, spiritual cowardice and deception.
    2. A man who heard the Word of God and feared Him.
    3. The ‘real life’ people are talking about is usually the hard, frustrating and challenging parts of life, as opposed to ‘the good life’ when life is bringing them pleasure and happiness and things are going well.
    4. Fiction helps us to see real life situations in different and sometimes more profound ways which can spark our thinking into how it can be applied to our own lives.
    5. Through prayer and asking God to let the Holy Spirit work in our minds when reading scripture and opening our eyes to how it can be applied to our lives and then asking for his power and grace to help us actually do it.

  15. 1. The events in Genesis 20 that are relevant today are lack of trust in God, disbelief, lying, sexual immorality, and many others.
    2. For God to speak directly to Abraham seems like a foreign concept to people today.
    3. The real life is often seen as the real hard reality of things in life. The simple life is seen as the easy, unrealistic life.
    4. Life in fiction can help us through moments of the hard reality of real life. We can take advice or use these examples in our real life.
    5. We need to make sure that we are connecting scripture to real life. It might not always be an exact situation, but there are many things to learn from the stories in scripture.

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