faith stretched beyond our comfort zone

“However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Luke 18

Anyone who is a follower of Christ and a true member of him, of his body the church, has faith. The disciples of our Lord before Pentecost had faith, though sometimes they received the Lord’s rebuke as people of little faith.

We want to be people of faith, but we don’t necessarily want the kind of faith our Lord possessed while here on earth. A faith which embraced God’s will come what may, even if against his own will, and a faith which would love enemies to the end, embracing the cross and asking for their forgiveness.

From scripture in one sense it is up to us. Yes, everything is of grace, a gift from God, but we are both recipients and stewards of those gifts, from creation all receiving them, and from new creation receiving them in and through Jesus and God’s coming and work in him. But scripture pulls no punches in holding humans responsible, and for the faithful, expecting faith, a faith which is more than about doing well in this life, in fact it may involve trials which threaten the very fabric of this existence. Scripture gives us the goal and the means to reach it, and it is up to us to take it all to heart and mind and life.

Often we won’t feel like going there. Does that make something less holy or good because we don’t feel like doing (or not doing) something out of obedience to God? Arguably in one sense it would make such an act all the more holy and good. Though at the same time, God would surely want to do a work in us, so that we would more and more from the heart want to live that way, in the way of our Lord.

In another way this does all depend on God, on God’s faithfulness in bringing about in us what we could never bring about left to ourselves. As we continue on in the way of Jesus, God does a work of transforming us more and more into his image. But if we think it’s going to be any easier for us than it was for our Lord, we are not reading scripture well. In one sense, yes, since he took on himself the cup of God’s judgment of sin. In another sense, no, it will involve drinking the cup he drank and being baptized with the same baptism in that we share in his sufferings in this life, in the words of Paul, becoming like him in his death (Philippians 3:10). The way of the cross is what our life involves in this present existence, a way that is not simply about living in Jesus’ resurrection power and life, but in our flesh somehow continuing on in something of our Lord’s sufferings as those who point to the one whose once for all suffering in his sacrificial death was for the good of the world, ultimately to end all suffering except for those who choose to go their own way.

At any rate, there will be the growing pangs and times when the growth of faith will be anything but comfortable. God will not leave us alone until we grow into complete likeness to his Son, our Lord. Which means it is ongoing in this life. Which will keep us humble and broken at his feet. Even as we seek to follow on to the very end.

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