We started this series with Mercy. It is a short step to Grace, which overlaps with Love. One way to summarize the series so far would be that Mercy and Grace are the emotions God has toward us which are motivated by God’s Love for us.
This week we move from Love to Faith, which may seem to be a bigger step than the previous ones. Or is it? As in most subjects it depends on how you look at Faith. Are we talking about God keeping Faith, in which case it is a natural small step from Love. If we are thinking in terms of our Faith, while being a response to God’s Love for us, the step is larger.
John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard said “Faith is spelled R-I-S-K.” What he meant is that having Faith in Christ works itself out in trusting God enough to do challenging, even hard, things at the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We can step into difficulty by trusting that God is calling us. So, we trust in God’s Love and Grace in order to do what is beyond our abilities. To do this, we have to trust that God is for us.
Once we are settled in our lives that God Loves and Likes us, then we are free to move out toward others with Mercy.
But, most of us aren’t very good at remembering God Likes us. We know what we do and think. We know how we treat people. We know what we secretly want. We suspect that we aren’t very Christ-like yet and that our motives are mixed at best, even selfish. And we wonder. Even if God Loves me, does God really like me? We revert to thinking that in some way we should be worthy of God’s Grace, forgetting the “unmerited” part of the definition. We are our own worst critics. We want to be worthy, because that would say something about us—that we are good and likable and lovable, that we bring some value to God. We want to feel good about ourselves. So we attach performance to receiving Grace or Love.
What would it take for you to Trust (Faith) what God says? To Trust that when God says we are beloved, that we are friends, that we are children, requires a huge step for many of us. We also project onto God how we ourselves often are. We don’t like some people. We don’t love everyone. We do think poorly of others. Some people just rub us the wrong way. In short, we Like people who are likable. We assume God does the same. That would mean that God doesn’t really Like us. We often don’t Like ourselves, so wonder how God could Like us?
Just like that our Faith is gone.
This is why Peter writes, “Stand firm in this Grace.” This is Faith. Standing firm in the Grace and Love God has for us. Standing firm can be hard work. We are pulled away, but we keep coming back to the fundamental truth—God is Love. All we need is to know that God likes us. We believe this, but as James writes, “Faith without works is dead.” It takes work to stay rooted in the Love God has for us.
This is why church is so important. This is why we can’t be a Christian on our own. This is why it is crucial we are well connected to God’s people. We have to be reminded that God really does Love and Like us. Our church family reminds us of this. They see our weakness and failures, but they love us anyway. If you think they don’t see, you are fooling yourself. When we receive Mercy from our church friends, we see that God too can and does still Love us.
I can’t continue in Faith without you. I need you to remind me that God is still with me and at work in me. I need you to demonstrate God’s own love toward me. I forget. I need you to be my reminder.