I was all ready to make this post a funny dialogue between Jacob and Laban resembling Derek Zoolander and Hansel making up with each other. But then it occurred to me that Genesis 31 is the first real picture of reconciliation and, dare I say it, unity I have seen in my study of the whole Bible.
If you want to learn 4 Ways NOT to Restore Unity, click on the link.
1) Talk It Out
After years of tension, hurt, confusion, deceit and anger, Laban and Jacob finally get to spill their guts to each other. This is my paraphrase of their conversation:
“Jacob, why did you take my daughters and grandkids away? How will I keep up with all of them with Facebook still 3,000 years away?”
“Well Laban, I took them because I was afraid you would try and steal them from me. You have a tendency to play dirty tricks on me for no reason. Remember? That is the reason I am married to Leah. And what the heck is Facebook?”
“No, I wouldn’t take them. They clearly don’t want to be with me as I am a tad bit irresponsible with my stuff. But really, did you have to take my household gods? Not cool, man. Not. Cool. Oh, I will show you my Facebook app on my iPhone.”
“What?! I didn’t steal your gods! But I might steal that iPhone! That thing is sweet! But seriously, all I have ever done is good to you and you’ve treated me like dirt. What’s up with that?”
“Hmm, you’re right Jacob. We should probably reconcile . . . you know, for the kids. But you can’t have my iPhone. One of these days AT&T will get coverage out here, I just know it!”
2) You Don’t Have to Be BFF’s
At the end of their conversation, they decide it’s best to part ways. But not before they make a covenant with each other. The covenant basically boils down to this:
- Jacob: I promise not to be a douche and marry someone other than your daughters to whom I am already married.
- Laban: I won’t kill you.
Then they have a barbeque and go their separate ways. They are at peace but it’s probably best if they don’t hang out anymore.
Can you have unity and know that hanging out together isn’t necessarily the best idea? They seem to think so.
3) Play the “Way of Women” Card.
Shout out to Rachel on this one.
She’s the one who stole her father’s household gods! Laban is not happy about it and is blaming Jacob. Jacob is so sure of his innocence that he declares that whoever stole them should be put to death.
As you can imagine, this could cause some serious problems.
So Rachel hides the gods in a sack and sits on it. Then she tells her father that she can’t get up because “the way of women is upon her.” This obviously means Laban isn’t going to search where she is sitting and therefore will not find his lost gods.
Crisis: Averted. No one gets killed.
Because if there is one thing that can unify men, it is thinking that menstruation is gross.
4) God Has Always Been There
I keep forgetting that it has been 20 years since Jacob saw God in his dream. And all we have seen God do since then has been give Jacob children.
But now we find out that God has been at work behind the scenes protecting Jacob and keeping Laban from doing something stupid. He has been there, out of sight, quietly nudging the two men towards him and away from each others’ throats.
Maybe in all our own fighting and disunity, God is there showing grace to us even when we don’t know it. And maybe one day we will wake up and see all the ways He has been at work.
I can’t be sure that these are guarantees. But they could go a long way toward restoring some unity in the Church . . .