Dare To Be Different
July 28, 2014
The Trickster Is Tricked
So might the headline read if this were a story in our local paper. Jacob – the one who had tricked his older brother Esau out of his birthright and blessing – Jacob – the one who had deceived his dying father Isaac into blessing him instead of Esau – Jacob – the ultimate trickster – is now tricked.
We smile when we read the passage – don’t we? 7 years of labor to marry his love –
then a dark night, a veiled bride, a shared bed, then in the light of morning – surprise!
Surprise, indeed! The trickster is tricked. The tables are turned. We may think: “Turn a bout is fair play!” It may be hard for us to feel sorry for Jacob. We may feel he is only getting what he deserves. We may feel he is only reaping what he has sown.
Maybe you think that’s the message of this passage. You Reap What You sow. Maybe you think that God may forgive, but that we still have to pay for past actions. We,, this is much too easy to be lesson in this passage. Something else is going on here. Something below the surface. Something that is more important than the first conclusions we easily jump to.
The answers to what else is going on here may be in the character of Jacob in this lesson. Look at Jacob. How is he acting? Is he acting in the same old self-seeking, self-centered, self-serving – I’m going to get my way even if I have to cheat you to get it – way he has acted in previous passages? No. Something is different about Jacob here. What is it? He’s letting himself be tricked. He’s letting himself be taken advantage of. He’s not just taking what he wants – he’s working for what he wants, and even working double the agreed upon deal. The Jacob we have known from previous lessons may have just taken Rachel without even consulting Laban or maybe tricked Laban into giving him Rachel without doing any work, especially after the way Laban tricked him. But this time he doesn’t! The time he complies with Laban’s rules, even when Laban changed the rules in mid-stream.
This is not the Jacob we have seen in the past! This is different! This is new! Jacob is different! He’s not the “same old Jacob” we’ve seen before! He’s different!
What has made the difference in Jacob’s life? Is it love? Well, yes. So he’s different because of his love for Rachel. We’ve seen love for a woman change many a man. But – Jacob’s love for Rachel is only part of the difference. The difference is love, but to understand that love we have to go back to its source. We have to go back to last week’s lesson. We have to go back to God, who made himself known to the desperate fugitive Jacob. We have to go back to God, who made his love known to Jacob. God, who changed Jacob’s life! His encounter with the love of God changed Jacob. The encounter with God at Beth – El changed Jacob and made him a different man. He travels on to Haran and his encounter with God but it is a changed man who arrives there. He’s a man who is no longer pre-occupied with himself, with what he wants, with what’s good for him and serving himself. He is now concerned with others, with doing for others, and serving others. He is a completely different person with a completely different attitude. He has been changed by God!
Instead of behaving in old, selfish ways, he dares to be different. He dares to be loving and to be caring, even if it means others may take advantage of him. He dares to be different.
Jacob loves! He sacrifices! He cares! He dares to be different.
So – there is much more going on here than just the trickster being tricked. Much more. This is not just a story of having to pay for past actions, but it is a story of the life-changing, difference-making love of God. This is a story of the love of God that can change us and make us different people. This is a story of God’s love that can change our lives and give us a new way to live. This is a story of how God can change us and how we can dare to be different.
We don’t need to laugh too much at Jacob, the old trickster getting his due from Laban. No, we need to look at the change, look at the difference in Jacob’s life, and see how we can have such a change in ours. God’s will was for Jacob to be a different person. God’s will was for Jacob to be a person that was not self-centered but God-centered, or centered upon God’s will and the good of others. God’s will was for Jacob to be a person who was willing to do for others, even if it made very little sense, and even when it may have meant being taken advantage of. God’s will was for Jacob to be loving, even if it meant risking looking like a fool. God’s will was for Jacob to dare to be loving, dare to be caring dare to be different. And this is God’s will for us, too!
It’s God’s will for us to be loving and caring. It’s God’s will for us to be different. We can not do God’s will if we worry only about ourselves, or what’s good for us, or what we want. God’s will for us is for us to be different from all of this. God’s will is for us to make a difference in the world as we use our gifts and abilities to show God’s love to all people. Sometimes others will take advantage of us, much as Laban did Jacob, but that’s OK – God’s will is for us to be loving, to be caring, to be different! God’s will is for us to dare to be different!
Jacob dared to be different.
Jesus dared to be different.
The Gospel, or the Good News of Jesus Christ, is that we can dare to be different people. We can dare to let God make a difference in our lives, just as Jacob let God make a difference in his life, then, like Jacob began to make a difference in the lives of others because God had make a difference in his life, we can dare to be people who are committed to make a difference in the lives of others and a difference in our community and the world because of the difference God has made in our lives. We can dare to be people who make a difference in our world, in our families, in our community, and in our church because God has make a difference in our lives.
In other words, we can dare to let God make a difference in our lives, then we can dare to be different people because of the difference God has made in our lives.
The poet Ann Weems wrote a poem entitled “Our Lord Is Called Hope.” She writes:
Our Lord was a Lord who turned
things upside down and inside out
a man who dined with sinners
a man who befriended prostitutes and tax collectors
a man who was called heretic
a man who broke the Sabbath rules
a man who changed water into wine.
And he bids us o follow Him
to turn things upside down and inside out
to go where the hurting is
to change water into wine
to change who we are into the Kingdom of God.
Yes, my friends. Go into the world. Follow Christ. Turn things upside down and inside out. Go where the hurting is. Change who we are into the people of God.
Jacob experienced God’s love and he dared to be different. Our calling is to experience God’s love – then dare to be loving, dare to be caring, and dare to be different.
Dare to follow Christ and make a difference with His difference making love in the world.
Dare to be different. Amen.