“Word for Today” – John 12 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

April 1, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

check-engine-1In seminary, I drove a 1995 Ford Ranger.  I am most definitely a Chevy man when it comes to trucks, but, as a student, I drove what I could afford.  Sure, my little Ranger wasn’t the fastest or most powerful truck with its little four cylinder engine, but it got me where I needed me to go…most of the time.

One afternoon as I was driving through town, a little light suddenly illumined on my dashboard.  The light’s message?  “Check Engine.”  “Oh, oh,” I thought.  “I better get this checked out.”  So, I went to my authorized Ford dealer who checked it out and told me not to worry.  It was only a faulty monitoring system that would in no way affect the performance of my engine.  He turned off the light and sent me on my way.  Everything was fine until the light came on again and the engine started stuttering.  Apparently, it wasn’t just a monitoring system problem after all.  And so back to the dealer I went.  This time, the prognosis was more serious.  “You need a tune up,” the mechanic told me.  “Otherwise, this truck ain’t going to make it much longer.”  And so, after a couple of hours and $350, I had a tune up, no check engine light, and a much smoother ride.

In our reading for today from John 12, we meet some people whose faith is running with its “Check Engine” light on:  “Many among the leaders believed in Jesus,” verse 42 begins, “but because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue.”  These people had faith, but it was not a “tuned up” faith.  For they were unwilling to give words to it.  They were unwilling to share that which was most precious to them:  Jesus.  Why?  Because “they loved praise from men more than praise from God” (verse 43).  In other words, these silent faithful were concerned that they might offend someone or be looked down upon by someone if they shared their faith.  So they simply decided to say nothing.  And, sadly, they did this over and over again.  In Greek, the word for “not confess” in verse 42 is in the imperfect tense, denoting a continuous, or repeated, action.  Thus, these people had opportunity after opportunity to confess their faith in Jesus, but, time after time, they chose to remain silent.  This, of course, is not the way that faith is supposed to be.  This is faith with its “Check Engine” light on.  This is faith that needs a tune up from Christ so that it will not falter and fail.

Thankfully, even in the midst of such a folly filled faith, Jesus offers this promise:  “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it” (verse 47).  Jesus says, “Even when you do not keep my commands and share your faith, I do not condemn you, even though I could.  Rather, I still offer you my grace, mercy, and salvation.”  Our faith, no matter how broken and inadequate it may seem, is still adequate for salvation.

With this in mind, then, we receive both a challenge and a promise from Jesus.  The challenge is this:  Have you done a ruthless inventory of your faith?  And have you heeded its dangerous “Check Engine” light areas?  For there are all sorts of these kinds of danger areas in faith:  an unwillingness to share your faith with others; an arrogant spirit toward those who are not Christian; a pet sin that drags you away from Christ rather than leading you toward him.  All of these, and many others, can damage faith.  So heed Jesus’ warning and repent of such dangerous sin.  But don’t forget Christ’s promise:  that even imperfect faith can receive the perfect promises of God.  For Christ came to save even those who falter and fall in their faith.  And thank God he did.  Because I falter and fall in my faith.  How about you?

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – John 11 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – John 13 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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