FAQs & Revisiting Wrestling
October 26, 2022 Creekwood United Methodist Church

Perceived Value - Deep Thoughts

Posted in Deep Thoughts

FAQ From Recent Meeting

I’m very thankful to the 50 or so people who came Sunday night to our “Rumor vs. Fact” presentation. It was filled with great inquiries, gracious curiosity, and joyful laughter in the face of what could have been divisive. I was reminded once more why I am proud to be the lead pastor of Creekwood United Methodist Church.

I do realize that more than showed up probably have questions, and I want to make sure we can be as helpful, transparent, and collaborative as possible. Here is a link to the Frequently Asked Questions portion of the presentation. Also, I want to make myself available for the next 2-3 weeks to visit any small group/Sunday school class, receive your e-mails, or visit one-on-one about any concerns or questions you may have about what is happening globally within The United Methodist Church, whatever side of the spectrum those concerns may be about. I value listening openly to anyone who wants to share, and, even more, I value those who have a spirit of learning and curiosity that want to understand and discern further their own beliefs. Again, I’m proud to be the lead pastor of Creekwood United Methodist Church and am more than happy to help shepherd anyone through this. Just let me know how I can help.

Other helpful resources are:

North Texas Conference Disaffiliation Resources

Videos by Adam Hamilton

Videos by Stan Copeland

Now…let’s talk wrestling.

“Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.”

(Genesis 32:24-28 NRSV)

To the 21st-century Christian, this is, by all accounts, one of the most bizarre stories in the Bible. Some preachers will emphasize the humility that Jacob learned by having his hip knocked out of the socket, therefore always remembering that he is subservient to the Lord. But…Jacob was winning. Or at least holding his own. If we’re talking official wrestling rules – God cheated.

But so had Jacob.

Jacob had cheated his brother Esau out of the birthright of the firstborn; lying to his blind father in the process.

Then, Jacob had been cheated by Laban who promised his daughter Rachel to marry Jacob, only to trick him into marrying his oldest daughter Leah instead.

And then Jacob lied and cheated Laban right back.

It’s only fitting for a guy whose name means, “supplanter.”

Which sounds like an awesome wrestling move, right? Kind of a WWE finishing move that gets the crowd pumped up. You can almost see Jacob getting the crowd hyped up to live into his given name, but here’s where the Genesis 32 wrestling story gets interesting. Jacob has been able to finish off every other person he’s tried to supplant.

He outwitted Esau.

He outlasted Laban.

He can hold his own with God – but he can’t supplant him.

And that’s the point of the match.

God isn’t out to completely destroy or humiliate Jacob. The story is more about Jacob’s ability to survive a difficult encounter with God. The story is more miraculous to the B.C. reader because no one wrestled with God and won…or…survived.

But “Israel” does.

Israel shows that a nation, or a person, can be in conflict with God and survive – albeit usually with some wear and tear.

Israel shows that a person can not only survive wrestling with God – but be blessed in the process.

I bring you this story because I overheard two very different conversations while waiting for my pizza in Broken Bow. One was a woman lamenting her sister’s “lack of faith” to another friend. It was truly a mournful lament full of worry for her sister’s well-being, but the undertone of this woman’s worry was that her sister would essentially fall to the dark side of the devil because she had been openly curious about the historicity of the virgin birth.

Conversation number two was happening on a text thread between some guys I went to high school with. Normally the conversation stays pretty grounded in sports, but all four of us have, at one point or another, wrestled with our faith to some degree (even me). The conversation was around one of my buddies questioning the actual need for Jesus as your savior vs. the morality that comes from just being a good person. The good news is that I was not surprised at all when my most theologically conservative friend offered up the most gracious response: “Yeah man, that’s a big question that doesn’t always make sense. I can tell you why I believe we need Jesus, but just know that no matter what you figure out – I think God is already using you in a big-time way – whether you believe that or not.”

(I made sure to tell my Presbyterian friend how Methodist he sounded in that moment)

  • On some level, we all wrestle with God.
  • God is perfect love – and we are often selfish.
  • God is perfect grace – and we are often unforgiving.

God is perfect in action (save the hip check maybe) – and we tend to choose many other priorities over God or redefine God to fit our habits and wants.

But, God is gracious and is not out to destroy us or humiliate us. God is out to show us that:

  • WHEN we wrestle with God we become more blessed and stronger.
  • WHEN we engage God, even in doubt, it gives us a chance to grow and transform.
  • WHEN we think, ask, and challenge, we often come out more blessed on the other side.

There’s a great symmetry to Jacob’s eventual confrontation with Esau; one he’s been dreading. Jacob sees God face to face and learns not to be afraid. He finally meets Esau face to face and learns the same.

It turns out, once we’ve truly met God face to face in a wrestling match, it often changes our other relationships for the better as well.

I can tell you that I’ve come to affirm the historic creeds of the church, but not without questions that still linger and through a lot of learning and wrestling. What I would like you to know is that if you find yourself with doubts, fears, or questions – you’re not going the way of the dark side of the devil.

You are wrestling with God just like Israel – and there’s a blessing on the other side.

Just hold on tight, don’t let go, play through the pain, and let yourself be transformed.


David Lessner

Give to the Ministries of Creekwood UMC

Volunteer at the Pumpkin Patch



Please consider writing a Google Review for us. Log into your Google Account, search for Creekwood UMC, then find the “Write A Review” button and you’re on your way.