Archive for April 16, 2009

“Word for Today” – Galatians 2 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

faith-1When I was in high school I had a friend named Max.  Especially my freshman year, Max and I were inseparable.  We would hang out together after school.  We would walk down the street to the coffee shop during lunch and buy the strongest espresso drinks on the menu so that our hands would be trembling all afternoon.  And, of course, we got into our fair share of trouble.  But beneath the veneer of typical adolescent lighthearted fun and foolishness, Max and I were fundamentally different people.  For I was a Christian while Max was not.

Over the course of our time together in high school, I tried to share my faith with Max countless times.  I told him about the difference that Jesus had made in my life.  I invited him to church with me.  But all of it was to no avail.  Max just wasn’t interested.  “To be real honest with you, Zach,” Max told me one time, “I think faith is for weak people who just need something to believe in.”

“Faith is for weak people who just need something to believe in.”  A lot of people feel this way.  The world-renowned Oxford professor and Darwinian atheist Richard Dawkins once said, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”  No need for faith, says Dawkins.  It’s simply for the feeble and faint minded.  With all due respect, however, I would beg to differ with this preeminent Oxford scholar.  For I would say that, whether we recognize it or not, we all live by faith.

“I believe I’ll have the Caesar salad.”  “I believe it’s time for a vacation.”  “I believe I need to run to by the grocery store on the way home.”  These are sentences that many of us have muttered at one time or another.  And their openings, “I believe,” are indicators that we are all people who live by faith.  We believe that when we order the Caesar salad, that’s what we will receive.  We believe that when we schedule a vacation, we’ll be able to take it.  And we believe that when we run an errand to the grocery store, the store will be open for us to make a purchase.  We live by faith.  For when we make each of these statements, we don’t know for sure that they will come to pass.  Indeed, sometimes they do not come to pass.  The waiter messes up our order and brings us the garden salad rather than the Caesar salad.  Our vacation plans get postponed by a family emergency.  The grocery store does not have an item we are looking for.  And we walk away disappointed because our faith has been dashed.  Nevertheless, we believe anyway.  Why?  Because we have a reasonable expectation that what we believe is true and will happen.

This, in fact, is one of the ways in which I would define faith:  A reasonable expectation that what we believe is true and will happen.  I think that all too often, too many people conceive of faith as something that is “other-worldly.”  Something that is needed to get a person in good with God so that they can go to heaven when they die.  But faith is much more profound and encompassing than that.  That’s part of the reason I appreciate Paul’s words in our reading for today from Galatians 2:  “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (verse 20).  Notice that for Paul, faith is not something that is otherworldly, ethereal, and detached from his everyday life; instead, it is something that is part and parcel of his very earthly being.  It’s essential to the “life he lives in the body.”  And so Paul says, “The life I live in the body, I live by faith…”  But then, Paul adds an all-important preposition:  “in.”  You see, it’s not just that Paul has faith, it’s that Paul has faith in something.  Paul has faith in someone.  He has faith “in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  This is where Paul’s faith rests.  And this is why all of us, whether we’re willing to admit it or not, are creatures of faith.  Because we all have reasonable expectations in someone or something.  Richard Dawkins has a reasonable expectation in his atheistic and naturalistic view of the universe as a correct one.  I, along with Paul, have a reasonable expectation in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.  The question is not, “Do you have faith?”  Rather, it’s, “What do you have faith in?”  I’m placing “Jesus” at the end of my “in.”  How about you?

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April 16, 2009 at 4:45 am 2 comments


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