Today I read:
- Genesis 15
- Psalm 18:25-50
- James 2
- Matthew 13
My meditation was: How does this truth make me love God more? How does it reveal his beauty?
Since Genesis 15:6 is a well known verse that establishes faith as the gateway to being made right with God, and since James 2:23 specifically references that same passage in Genesis and then goes on to say that is is not faith alone that “justifies” us, the truth of faith is what emerged for me to meditate on today.
Understanding this confusing dynamic has been a struggle for me for years, as the Scripture does seem to say two different things: faith alone makes us right with God, and faith plus good deeds makes us right with God. So, which is it?
The words of the Bible apart from the Living Word (Jesus) and his Living Spirit are just words. They can be misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misapplied. Those same words, when illuminated by the Light (Christus Lux Mundi), reveal the Truth which cannot be misunderstood or refuted. That truth is no mere set of precepts; it is the Lord himself, and knowing him in increasing measure is the antidote to all sorts of confusion. So, as someone who has encountered Jesus, knows his voice, and actively follows him each day by his grace and with his strength, here is what I have learned:
Faith is like love, in that both are actions. Love that is only words is not actually love. So, faith that does not display itself in action is not a genuine faith. Faith alone restores our relationship with our Father and Creator, and that faith, if it is sincere and genuine, will make itself known through action and not words alone.
James is not redefining “faith” in what he writes, but instead focusing in on the truth of its active nature. My friend, Bob Franklin, defines faith this way: “a right response to God’s revealing of himself”. That strikes me as exactly right: When God shows up, how do I respond? Do I run to him? Away from him? Ignore him? My response is an indicator of my faith!
This truth of the reality of faith makes me love God more because in it he shows his enduring patience with me—he continues to show up, hoping for a loving, reciprocating response—as well as his loving respect for me as an individual—he doesn’t coddle or cajole or coerce. He made me and knows me more intimately than any one else possibly can, and he loves me in the way only a father can love his children. He knows I need him, he knows there is no other source of life to which I can turn and find lasting fulfillment, but he won’t force me to love him (as if such a thing were even possible!). Rather, he wants me to choose him! And so all of heaven holds its breath to see what I will choose…
With the grace that I have today, this is what I understand. Where my human mind falls short (often and in many places!), I pray that the mind of the Christ will lift me up. Where human understanding fails, I pray he will be shown triumphant. And wherever I am in error, I pray for the humility to embrace correction.
I believe; help thou my unbelief! Lord, give me the ears to hear you today, the mindfulness to see moments of decision rather than just barreling through them, and the strength to choose you at every fork in the road. You are the only food the fills, and I want no other. May it be so!