One day Jacob was cooking a stew. Esau came in from the field and said to Jacob, “Give me some of that red stew–I’m starved!” Jacob said, “Make me a trade: my stew for your rights as the firstborn.” On oath Esau traded away his rights. Jacob gave him bread and the stew of lentils. Esau ate and drank, got up and left. (Genesis 25:29-34, The Message Bible)
We have a wonderful birthright from God in Christ. We are God’s children and heirs, temples in which His Spirit dwells, priests and kings who reign with Christ. Sadly, we are more like Esau than many of us care to admit because we have traded our birthright for even less than a bowl of stew.
Evidence that we have traded away our birthright can be heard in what we say. For example, how often do Christians refer to church buildings as the “house of God” even though the Bible teaches us that we are His temples and “God does not live in houses made by men” (Acts 7:48 and Acts 17:24)? It should have been clear that God left the temple in Jerusalem when He tore the curtain between the Holy of Holies where He resided and the Jewish priests who served Him in the courts of the temple. Jesus even told the Jews when He left the temple for the last time “behold, your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). Since the day of Pentecost, God has lived in believers, but apparently many of us prefer to keep Him at a distance by consigning Him to church buildings.
Another way in which Christians have traded their birthright is the forfeiture of their priesthood to become the ‘laity’. As laymen, Christians often look to the minister as the only genuine priest and view him as their intermediary before God. Some believers hesitate to do what God prompts them to do until they receive the minister’s permission. Others look for someone who is perceived to be more spiritual to pray on their behalf, as if afraid to approach God themselves or that He listens to some but not others. In Jesus we are all priests and He is the only intermediary we need. Through Him, we can boldly approach God’s throne (Hebrews 4:16).
The freedoms we have as sons of God are often traded for slavery. Consider the words of Jesus who replied “the sons are free” when He was asked about paying the temple tax (Matthew 17:24-26). How often today are the sons of God taxed to pay for yet another man-made temple? The early Church didn’t build temples, they met in believer’s homes and their offerings were used to meet the basic needs of people, such that they could boast “there were no needy people among them” (Acts 2:45, 4:34). The Church today can not boast like that because the unending expense of buildings and programs enslave believers and leave little or nothing to help people. How frightening it will be when Jesus judges the world for whether or not they fed, clothed and provided shelter for His people (Matthew 25:31-46).
At one time or another, we have all traded our birthright for stew. Fortunately, like the prodigal son, we can return home to our Father who is eager to restore us as His children. He is waiting for us, and His servants are ready with the robe, sandals, and family ring that tell the world we are God’s children.
Isn’t it time we traded that bowl of religious stew for the fattened calf at our Father’s banquet table?