Week 8: Rivalry or Reconciliation?

BibleStoryline-CallingNOTE TO NEW READERS:  While our weekly email newsletter “We Make the Road With Kids” is synced to the calendar sequence starting August 31, my current series of blog posts documents my own family’s progress through the book, which is running about 2 months ahead of the recommended calendar.  It’s sort of the “rough draft” for what will later come out through the email newsletter. 

For this week’s after-dinner family Bible conversation, we are doing Chapter 8, It’s Not Too Late, from Brian McLaren’s We Make the Road by Walking.

1. As we’re finishing dinner, we watch video renditions of Matthew 25.31-40 (“the least of these”) and Luke 10:25-37 (Good Samaritan). (9 minutes)

2. We read today’s main text out loud together, taking turns with each paragraph: Genesis 32:22-33:11; 50:15-21

3. We watch a set of videos — The Jacob-vs-Esau rivaly and how it ended in reconciliation, and the related story of Joseph and his brothers.  Includes relevant scenes from Kevin Costner’s THE WAR, and a beautiful scene of forgiveness from DOCTOR WHO (This is a geek-themed blog, after all).  It concludes with the really cool story of how the epic sports rivalry between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird evolved into a friendship. (17 minutes)

4. I give a short talk:

So far in the Bible, we’ve looked at a wide variety of theories about how God deals with “bad people” — the people we dislike because we don’t like how they treat us:

THEORY #1:  God can just kill all the bad people (Flood, Sodom, etc).

THEORY #2: God can make it so bad people can’t work together (Tower of Babel).

But neither of those solutions really seemed to solve the problem.

Another theory arises in these stories about brothers.  Joseph’s brothers were pretty awful to him, and when he finally has power to hurt them back, he doesn’t.  He forgives them and reconciles with them.  Could that be how God deals with “bad guys”?

The Jacob story is kind of weird, because I get the feeling we’re supposed to be on Jacob’s side, but he’s the one who keeps doing mean things. And then 20 later when he meets with Esau again, he’s scared that Esau is going to pay him back for all those mean things.  But Esau is like Joseph; he forgives his brother.  And Jacob says being forgiven by Esau is like “seeing the face of God.”

For me, seeing the face of God means being like Jacob here — realizing that I’m as much a “bad guy” as anybody else, and then being able to be forgiven by the people I’ve hurt.

5. We have a family conversation about it all. We use the discussion questions at the end of the chapter as a guide, but we try to let the conversation range pretty freely.



a).  An example of using these stories as models of reality, using the visual language of Systems Thinking:

If you treat me badly, my natural response is to imitate you, treating you badly in revenge, which you in turn will respond to with even more bad treatment. It’s a self-reinforcing loop, a snowball effect.

b).  Here are some more movies and clips from this week’s Bible texts — more pieces of the Jacob story and Joseph story, a feature length movie about Jacob, and a Good Samaritan cartoon for littler kids:


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