Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Expression of Faith

Galatians 5:6b (New International Version)
...the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love.

I've been doing some thinking lately about how to express faith, so this verse was interesting to ponder. God seeks after us in love and fills us with his love for others.

God's love for me is evident in countless ways, big and little, every day. I notice them and know that they are signs of his love. Why he should love me, I don't know, but I know that he does, and that he loves everyone in exactly the same way.

Love must surely then be the starting point in our relationships with people. I think of the impact of Jesus' visit to the homes of the two tax collectors, Zacheus and Matthew. They were hated by their countrymen because their occupation meant that they were complicit with the Roman government, and corrupt themselves.

Jesus found Matthew at his tax collector's booth (see Matthew 9:9-13) and called him to follow him. According to his own written account, Matthew did so. Later, Jesus had dinner at Matthew's house and many "sinners" and other tax collectors ate with him. People who needed to find God did not seem to experience judgment in Jesus' presence, although the "religious" people questioned and complained about his choice of dinner companions. Jesus' response was that these were exactly the people he needed to be with. He didn't come for those who thought they "had it all together," but for those who knew they didn't.

Zaccheus, the other tax collector, large of wallet, but small of stature, got what he thought was a bird's eye view of Jesus from a sycamore-fig tree. He got more than he expected when Jesus called him down and invited himself to his home for dinner - causing further outrage amongs the religious folk for mingling with "sinners." Zacheus was quick to welcome Jesus though, and his life was immediately and radically changed by Jesus' holy presence.

What does this mean for me? I think it means to go where people are who need Jesus and to carry him with me. Then I think it means that I need to be ready for his agenda, ready to give an answer to those who are drawn to him in me (1Peter 3:15), and ready too, for the fact that for some there will be no response. Not everyone responded to Jesus when he was here in person.

Prayer: Dear Lord, please fill me with this love of yours more and more, both for the transforming of my life and for those of others. I pray for those with whom you've placed me in relationship, that your Kingdom will be furthered in their lives.

1 Peter 3:15 (New International Version)

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

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