God created Adam and Eve, for perfect relationship with him and with each other and with the earth.
But they wanted more than that - they chose wanting to be God over relationship with God.
Ten generations go by, things going from bad to worse. People become more and more violent and loathsome and so God chooses Noah, a good man, to start over again with.
Only Noah develops a drinking problem and ends up choosing the bottle over relationship with God.
Another ten generations go by and things get, if anything, even worse. This time, humans decide that they've had enough of God and so they vow to unite and build a tower that goes all the way to heaven, glorifying themselves and their own ego and waging a coup d 'etat against God. The Tower of Babel.
People chose pride over relationship with God.
You'd think that by this time God would get it. People are difficult and we really don't want him.
I mean, we might want what he can offer - stuff, security, meaning in life, a way out of a dangerous dark alley on a stormy night. A partner, a baby, a good job, some job other than the one you have. Health, peace in the family.
But not God for God's own sake.
We want something else. Or God plus something else.
That's what it means to be human.
God would be justified in just being done - angrily - with the lot of us. Casting thunderbolts or plagues of lice or something. Or nursing a Scotch on the rocks in a dark corner, mumbling to himself about the ungrateful kids.
Instead, he causes Abraham to show up.
Abraham - out of Ur. Out of nowhere. No one special - maybe the most famous man in the history of the world (think about it - he's a major figure in all three of the major world religions), but no one really knows who his daddy was.
He's discontent, underachieving, nervous, restless, maybe a little OCD, more than a little dishonest. Dude has a very casual relationship with the truth.
A big deal in his culture is having kids, lots and lots of kids. A man is judged by the quantity and quality of his offspring. And for the longest of time, neither Abraham nor his wife can have children.
Altogether unpromising. But it was from his line, his descendants, that God chose to bring Jesus Christ into the world.
You think your kids are special? Well, how about.....
Abraham basically had one thing going for him and it didn't click into view until years later. According to Paul, the great early leader in the Christian church, Abraham "believed God and because of this belief got credit for being in the right place when it came to his relationship with God". (Galatians 3:6).
That's it. At the end of the day, he believed God. And staked his life on that belief.
He chose.....nothing over relationship with God. No thing over relationship with God. He just believed and rolled the dice or went all in (choose your own gambling metaphor, friend).
God endured generations of disbelief, mocking belief, disobedience and all-around lunacy before he brought Abraham along. Because when it comes to people he is not a pessimist. He's not even a realist. There's nothing realistic about the story of the Bible. Very little of it makes sense, from either a psychological or theological standpoint.
It's the most unlikely of stories, the most far-fetched of books. If you don't laugh out loud from time to time when you are reading it, you're not paying attention or you're either too religious or too uptight or both.
God is holy and perfect and even frightful, not to be trifled with. That much is true. He is jealous of love and he roars like the billion most terrifying lions in the world defending their children and he often seems to make no sense and occasionally appears to wreak havoc.
Life can look a lot more like Sophie's Choice than Rudy a lot of the time.
And yet God is absolutely, crazily in love with people at the same time he is absolutely, steadfastly determined to bring justice and goodness and peace in the world, not through carols and tolerance - nice as those may be - but through nails and blood and kindness and sacrifice and pain and raucous, battle-soaked laughter.
Because he knows how things are going to end.
The Cross turns into the Resurrection and death turns to life and mourning turns to morning and whatever the hell you are going through ultimately gets redeemed - bought back, made new.
God believes in you. All he asks you to do is believe in him and do the stuff he did.
When it comes to you, no matter if you've been sold out or or on the deep discount shelf....God is buying.