>> www.joshburnham.me

This blog has been moved from this .blogspot address to another blogging platform. You can feel free to click around and read what's here, but for any new content, please check www.JoshBurnham.me.


Wives At War

This might take just a minute to get to the point, but stick with me for a little bit... It could really be worth it.

I was recently reading through part of Genesis, and at this part of the story we're hearing about this guy named Jacob.

The short bit is this: Jacob has come looking to find a wife, falls head-over-heels for Rachel, and makes a deal with her father, Laban, to marry her. Now Laban pulls a sneaky little trick and Jacob ends up with Rachel's sister, Leah, AND Rachel.

Now, I don't know if you've ever been married to a couple of sisters, but it turns out this led to some serious relational friction!

So I'm reading along and following the story of Jacob. But when I get to this part it occurs to me: maybe this is more about the girls (Rachel and Leah) than about the guys (Jacob and Laban). These ladies start popping out some kids, so I charted this out:

Son's Name : Meaning/Explanation
Reuben : see, a son (because of God, now Jacob will love me)
Simeon : the Lord heard I was hated and has given me a son
Levi : my husband will be joined to me, because I've given him three sons
Judah : I will praise the Lord

In jealousy, Rachel offers her maid, Bilhah, to Jacob because she was unable to conceive for herself.
Son's Name : Meaning/Explanation
Dan : God has judged, heard my voice
Naphtali : I have wrestled with my sister and I've won

Then Leah sees she's not conceiving and offers her maid, Zilpah.
Son's Name : Meaning/Explanation
Gad : Good fortune
Asher : Happy am I! And others will call me happy

Then Leah starts having kids again.
Son's Name : Meaning/Explanation
Issachar : God has given me hire because I gave my maid
Zebulun : Now my husband will honor me because I gave him six sons
Dinah : Dinah was a daughter

And one more...
Son's Name : Meaning/Explanation
Joseph : God has taken away my reproach, He adds

Can't you just feel the bitterness in their relationship? They're competing with each other for Jacob's affection, and trying to get one-up on the other, and they're doing it by a "who can make the most babies" contest!

Cutting through some of the cultural stuff going on here about sons and family lines and all, I noticed where their FOCUS was in the naming of each son: winning Jacob's love with a son; what others thought of her; Jacob would finally have to pick her; and then with Judah it was finally just about praising the Lord. But let's keep going: God heard what SHE wanted; she was in this competition with her sister and felt she was winning!; another son was good fortune for her; others will call her happy; she felt God was 'paying her back' for giving her hand-maid; back to winning the approval of Jacob... and finally, Rachel has a son and celebrates God taking away her shame.

It was all about proving themselves to Jacob or being better and more valuable than the other wife or improving what others would think of them...

And it hit me: The church does this exact same thing! How often does the church, as the Bride of Christ, spend so much time and energy competing against itself? How often do local churches see the good fortune of another church and get jealous? How often are local churches trying to prove themselves (to God or to non-Christians or to themselves) their own self-worth and importance?

And so this is a challenge to anyone in a position of influence within a church: can we all just quit competing with others on our same team for the affection and approval of a God who's already claimed us and called us His and set us right with Him through Jesus? It's ugly and unproductive.

Technorati tags: ,


Post a Comment