Tuesday, April 09, 2013

A Thought for Tuesday 4/9/13

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  By His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the Last Time.  In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith – being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”  1 Peter 1:3-7 NRSV

I was recently asked if faith is something that, once obtained, is always present.  St. Paul suggests faith, like so much else, is but one of many good gifts from Above.  St. Peter does not dispute this but does suggest it is the “genuineness of our faith” that is “perishable”.  So if faith in the knowledge of the Resurrection of Messiah is a gift from Above, this is a Gift given freely by Divine Favor (grace); the Church is called forth, set apart, and equipped to develop and safeguard that “perishable genuineness” by the means of grace at our disposal.  This means worship, prayer, Scripture study, and the Sacraments (to name only a few) are given and are to be used to protect and develop what has been given so that “when Jesus Christ is revealed … in the Last Time”, we will be found faithful rather than lacking.

Forgive me for beating a dead horse, but this means faith in discipleship – that is, devotion and service to Messiah and His Way because we are enabled to trust Him – is no magic spell that coerces our will.  Nor is faith a gift we use to justify ourselves in our sinful practices; faith does not change the nature of sin (lust does not suddenly, magically turn into love!).  Faith freely given, however, does require a response that goes beyond “yes, Lord” in a single moment of emotional weakness.  Faith cannot save us in our adultery, our fornication, our idolatry, our theft, our hatefulness, our slander.  Rather faith calls us away from these things (repentance) and toward the “inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading”; but we still have to make choices … constantly.  Daily.  Hourly.  Because this faith is certainly “tested by fire” and will be until the Last Time.

Is faith, once obtained, always present?  It would have to be if it comes from Above.  Think, however, about gifts given from our loved ones, gifts we don’t especially like mainly because the gift was not what we expected or even wanted.  We can put the gift in the closet and never use it, but we can never deny it was given.  Hidden away, however, that gift will never be of any good use to us except to say “it’s there”.  It will never serve the purpose for which it was given if it is put away and never seen again.


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