what kind of faith?

If there’s one word which sums up the Christian life in scripture from our human end of it, it might be faith. Faith receiving and accepting God’s word in Jesus, the gospel, that our sins are forgiven and that we have new life in Jesus. Setting us on a new way of life. Faith through which we follow. It is most certainly by grace, God’s gift to us in Jesus.

But while we aren’t saved by our works, or even by the good works of the law God has given, we are saved by a faith that works. In James we read that “faith without works is dead.” In the judgment God won’t be asking how much we believed, but what we did. Did we love our neighbor as ourselves by doing good for them in their time of need. Questions like that. The Matthew 25 passage sets this out clearly. Jesus tells us that it will matter in the end what we either did, or failed to do. That is what ends up separating the sheep from the goats.

I think we too often look at faith, and our faith more, as a friend of mine likes to say, in a “navel gazing” kind of way. It’s all about our own spirituality and walk before God. And I think I’ve been guilty of some of that navel gazing myself, probably a lot. It’s not that we shouldn’t see to ourselves, and seek to put our own house in order, so to speak. We should, indeed. We do need God to search us and show us where we are missing the point in terms of our calling and faith. What is wrong with our hearts. What sin we are clinging on to, and is clinging on to us.

But we must not stop there. We must by God’s grace in Jesus begin to move beyond that to works of love. The point of the teaching or doctrine, Paul tells us is love, which comes out of a pure heart, and a sincere faith. A love that is devoted to good works for others. Especially for those in need, the poor and oppressed. Loving our neighbor as ourselves.

We need to learn more and more to think of faith in terms of the Jesus Creed. Do I love God with all my being and doing, and do I love my neighbor as myself? Some devout Christian recently told me that obedience to those commands is impossible for us. There is no doubt that we will fall short. But that is to be our goal, the point of our faith. What we are to continue to grow into through Jesus and our following of him together for the world.

Lent is a time of asking God to reveal to us our sins. As well as the way we are to follow in Jesus.