Friday, February 02, 2007

Faith’s Friends

The subject of faith can be difficult. What does it mean to “have faith?” Perhaps we can learn from faith’s friends.

Faith and Grace are not equal partners. God shows gracious initiative in setting the table for us and in providing the meal. Faith’s role is to simply “taste” the Lord’s goodness (1 Pet 2:3) in his person and in his provision for us. Faith savors what God provides. Faith is not even responsible for the digesting of divine delicacy and its conversion to spiritual energies. God’s sanctifying grace accomplishes that as well. Faith simply savors (Eph 2:8,9).

Faith and Repentance are never-failing friends. If faith is an open-handed acceptance of the gifts that God graciously provides, then repentance is the emptying of the hands in preparation for the reception of the gift. To go back to the earlier illustration, to come to God’s table already made full by the junk food shoved down our throats by the world and greedily gobbled up by our own lusts is to preclude the experience of tasting God’s goodness and grace. There is no hunger for God without repentance. We are more apt to pass out into a sated stupor, or to be sick. Faith’s friend, repentance, is our turning from what is cheap to what is priceless, the forerunner of faith in our lives (Acts 20:21).

Faith and Love are never strangers. When Paul looks for evidence of faith in the lives of believers, he looks for love – love for God, and also love for others (1 Thes 3:6). For a self-centered and preoccupied person to claim faith is to make a statement that can be supported by no evidence. Faith in our lives, the savoring of the goodness and grace of God, becomes a dynamic force, through the operation of the grace of God, that will most definitely result in loving activity.

Faith and Works? We often think of these as enemies, since faith is not a work, and we can work to earn our salvation (Rom 4:5). But, having faith, we must expect that faith will work – because it is not a static force, but a dynamic element in our lives – as Paul says, faith working in love (Gal 6:5).

No Faith? Then you are missing out on faith’s friends as well. The absence of faith reveals a want of grace. The diminishing of faith’s vibrancy points to a desertion of the hard by happy work of repentance. Faith without love is mere marketing, and faith without works, as James reminds us (Jas 2:26), is dead.

1 comment:

Steve Stairs said...

What other "friends of faith" can we find in the text of Scripture? Off the top of my head I believe that endurance, perseverance, trial, testing, persecution, blessing all are related.