Friday, February 10, 2012

There are limits

“Anger is presented as a deadly and ominous force that is particularly dangerous within families. Genesis 33 shows readers that the estrangement resulting from anger need not be permanent, although it makes clear that sacrifices are required to find a way beyond past wrongdoings. At the cost of many possessions, intense fear, and great risk to himself and his family, Jacob gains some sense that he has favor in the eyes of his brother. But the reconciliation is short-lived at best. The brothers soon go their separate ways. While there is a moment of forgiveness here, the narrative is painfully realistic about the difficulty, demands, and dangers of attempting to assuage anger. Genesis does not portray anger or forgiveness in simplistic terms. It minimizes neither the force of anger nor the prolonged impact that it can have on human lives. The desire patterned in readers for someone to provide sustenance and protection for family members again comes up short, as individuals’ limitations along with the limitations of the land prevent the possibility of brothers dwelling together.”—From Fratricide to Forgiveness, page 169

<idle musing>
There are physical limitations, such as the ability of the land to sustain a limited number of people. But, we tend to limit God too much in our interpersonal relations. We see through our very limited lenses and then assume that God sees through the same lenses. He doesn't (Praise God for that!). He is the God of the limitless. We need to take the time to listen to what he is saying, and then believe it. Easily said, not as easily done...reconciliation and communication are difficult tasks...
</idle musing>

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking there is more to it than God's limitless possibilites in contrast to the land's limitations. Later on land becomes a metaphor for our lives. Jesus points out that in your patience possess your souls. 'Possess' is a heavily loaded word on the biblical culture. He's making a reference that links back with His hearers all the way to Joshua, and Israel's coming into a promised land. One where all that desecrates the sanctity of holy living has to be put out. In that context the estranged brothers, who had very different desires in regards to God's covenant life; could not sustain a relationship. They could only live as casual acquaintances. God's limitless possibilities works for those of unity of heart. Otherwise, anger will keep breeding and destroying.