Why Isn’t Our Faith “Greater”
Devotional Thought of the Day:
If I am telling the truth, why do you not believe me?b 47 Whoever belongs to God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not listen, because you do not belong to God.” John 8:46-47 NAB-RE
Faith is a vital, deliberate trust in God’s grace, so certain that it would die a thousand times for it. And such confidence and knowledge of divine grace makes us joyous, mettlesome, and merry toward God and all creatures. This the Holy Spirit works by faith, and therefore without any coercion a man is willing and desirous to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything for the love of God and to his glory, who has been so gracious to him. It is therefore as impossible to separate works from faith as it is to separate heat and light from fire.” (1)
. But devotion to the Cross had a very different origin. Christians used to turn toward the east when they prayed as a sign of their hope that Christ, the true sun, would rise upon history—as a sign, then, of their belief in the future coming of the Lord. In the beginning, the Cross was closely linked to this eastward orientation of prayer. It was represented as the standard carried before the King on his arrival—with the appearance of the Cross the head of the procession had reached the throng of praying people. For the early Christians, the Cross was primarily a sign of hope—not so much a turning back to the past as a turning forward to the coming of the Lord. (2)
As a pastor, I am used to people struggling with “Faith.”
Most often, this is because they define faith as a known, for example, “the Christian Fatih” or the subdivisions such as “the Catholic Faith” or the “Orthodox Faith”.or the myriad and diversity of “Protestant Faith.” This definition reduces faith to a list of doctrines, a list of teachings, and reduces the Bible to a textbook to be learned, studied and interpreted. This definition confuses us then when we talk about “sharing” our faith, leading us to believe such is a matter of indoctrination, of our doctrinal positions overwhelming yours in some cosmic spiritual battle.
Faith doesn’t know doctrine, it is, as the Lutheran Confessions say, It is a vital, deliberate trust (or dependence) in God’s grace. It is listening to God and rejoicing not just in the rules, but realizing that God encodes in the law these incredible promises, incredible blessings. Such is what He commanded, what He commissioned and guaranteed with the cross and by the sending of the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.
That’s why the issue of works being aa result of faith is not surprising, and not all that complicated. The vital trust results in it! If you trust God, if you hear Him declare you are His, that nothing can separate you from His love, then you simply live.
That is why Pope Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) wrote about the cross the way he did – it not only talked of the blessing of the cross in the past, but the sign of Christ’s return. ( the old Celtic crosses always included the sunrise behind the cross for the reason as well!) For faith is not just hope about the sins being covered by Calvary’s cross, it is the hope or eternal life, of eternal joy, of the day when every tear is wiped away.
The cross is a symbol of the hope of the future, of what God has promised to open up for us, the very thing we trust Him to achiece> Eternity, lived in the full glory of God, this is our hope, this is the end goal for the scriptures, the end of the means of grace poured out for us in baptism, the Lord’s supper and the mercy of being cleansed of every sin.
Eternity is when our faith is fulfilled, when our dependence on God is proven, when hope is seen to be reality.
This we can share – at whatever cost it takes – this we can rejoice in, this we can know, even when we can’t explain every bit of theology.
This is our faith, our vital dependence on God.
This is what happens when we hear Him testify,
“I love you so much; Christ died on the cross so we could be re-united..”
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print. FOrmula of Concord SD IV
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Posted on September 14, 2016, in Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI and tagged Abiding in Christ, apostolate, devotion, doctrine, Evangelism, faith, Inspiration. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.