Today’s Scriptures: Lectionary selections from the Revised Common Lectionary Year C
Isaiah 1:1, 10-20
Hebrews 11:1-3, 8-16
As a classroom teacher, school counselor, and now school administrator I have always told my students “An assignment is not complete until it is turned in.” Imagine my embarrassment upon discovering when I posted the Aug. 18 post, that I had never posted the Aug. 11 post. It is even more embarrassing because I proudly declare one of the passages to be my “personal favorite” in the Bible.
I always hesitate before saying it aloud, because I am certain there is some degree of blasphemy associated with it, but one of the passages included in today’s readings is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. The Hebrews “Faith Passage” has been my favorite passage for years and find it increasingly relevant today. So much media seems focused on finding something wrong with everything, that there is the attitude projected that if you are not a skeptic, you are a fool. Faith is just the opposite: it requires believing in something so much it guides my actions. The verses in Hebrews 11 and into 12 help explain the concept of faith which, the more I study, becomes more clear and more complicated at the same time - especially as I see faith as a guiding concept in so many other passages of the Bible.
The Hebrews passage on faith begins with definitions that cover philosophical and practical applications of faith. The more philosophical definitions closely resemble definitions found in current dictionaries and in the common language. The practical definition sets up a list of individuals across Biblical history and the example of faith they demonstrated. While the definitions focus on the philosophy of belief and creation, the historical examples all demonstrate ways they lived their faith by turning it into action. Paul, writing in Romans and in James makes the same argument for Christian faith - that without turning it into actions inspired/guided by faith, the faith was dead (or at least immature enough that actions were not yet evident [my addition]).
The Isaiah and Psalm passages provide a solid foundation for the idea that faith is dynamic, active, and visibly demonstrable to the world around the believer. In both passages, it appears that the people of Israel had the ritual part of religion settled and set. The prophet and the psalmist (and God) knew that the actions of the people in the days between synagogue violated God’s expectations for his people - and in some of the examples, the actions of the people outside worship time ran exactly contrary to God’s direction. Both texts make it clear that the “perfect” worship of the people means nothing to God and in fact, offends him when our whole lives do not match that hour.
Ultimately, faith brings completeness to our life. Faith is not an action and there is no one action that demonstrates faith. When faith is the guide that shapes our actions, the consistency in our actions reflects the beliefs we hold. Faith is a force that transforms lives. Faith is our connection to God. The many facets to faith make it one of the most fascinating and challenging parts of Christianity. Every study on faith that I do brings even more to consider - and maybe that is the greatest thing about faith: it always keeps growing.
Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org