Lesson 2 -- second quarter 2003
March 9, 2003
© Copyright 2003, Christian Light Publications
We tend to think of faith as an intangible. We figure that we can no more see faith than we can see the wind or the spirits. To many faith is an idea or a concept; a way of believing; certainly not an object. Yet Mark 2:5 says that "Jesus saw their faith." Can we see faith that way? Well, Jesus saw the faith in their hearts, so from that angle, we cannot see faith in the same way. However, Jesus also saw the proof and action of their faith in the series of deeds that brought the lame man into His presence. From that viewpoint, we most certainly can see faith just as Jesus did.
All this leads me again to wonder about my own faith. Is it merely an intangible something that exists somewhere in my being? Or is it also an extremely visible way of life that expresses itself in my speech, my deeds, my attitudes, my values, my thoughts, my goals, and even my feelings?
Christian faith must be visible; otherwise, it is not Christian. Here are several verses from James 2 that lead me to such a conclusion: "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also" (17,20,26).
In 1 John 3:17 God teaches us one very practical way in which Christian faith reveals itself in an extremely tangible way: "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"
As the world and others around us look at us, can they see our faith? "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35).
In considering visible faith, we all need a special caution: Always begin with the belief part of faith before attempting the action part of faith. Listen to this: "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue . . ." (2 Peter 1:5). Never forget that virtue is built on and springs from believing.
Would you follow Jesus with him?
First Jesus calls four hard-working fellows who gainfully pursued an honorable occupation. But then He up and calls one of those tax collector "things"!
Suppose you had been one of the fishermen. Would you have been aghast and insulted that Jesus would have called Matthew just as readily as He called you? I wonder how many of us would have resisted the preposterous notion that we follow Jesus in the company of a publican.
Aren't we so strange, vain, and arrogant? I mean, just how good do we think we are, anyway?! Think about it . . . . Are we such better company for the glorious, sinless One?
Who is welcome in your congregation?
If you have ever been in a hospital, you know such places tend to maintain a fairly high and strict standard of neatness, cleanliness, and classyness. But have you noticed the kinds of people they cater to? And, oh, the condition some of them arrive in! Dirty, smelly, sickening, and downright revolting. In such a neat, clean, classy place? Yuck!
Nobody thinks that way, do they? No! Those neat, clean, classy places are meant to serve the dirty, smelly, sickening, and revolting.
Sure, the standards of the hospital are maintained. And almost everything possible is done to bring the "clients" up to that standard. But those facts don't undo the reality that hospitals are meant for the sick and injured. Such folks are welcomed in hospitals.
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