Sunday, February 17, 2008


I'm in the lectionary texts again today, and I'm looking at faith.

Genesis 12:1-4 is God's call to Abram: "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you...." This is not simply a checklist, and it is notably not a call to go to somewhere to do something. It is a call to uncertainty. God sent Abram away from his home, his culture, and his family. Abram had God's promise that He would show the way, but no detail. He was being called not to a particular location, but to a particular lifestyle -- a lifestyle of listening to and following God's direction.

We are all called to something similar, though few of us quite as drastically obvious. God challenges us to walk daily with Him, seeking His direction and trusting Him enough to follow it. That's kind of like skydiving -- we're surprisingly safe, but it goes against our natural instincts, and it can be a scary thing. The message of Psalm 121 is reassurance that putting our trust in God is the safest thing we can do.

Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 brings us back to Abram (now called Abraham). Abraham trusted God. He veered from the path sometimes, but kept returning to God. He did not -- and could not -- earn God's favor. It was only through his faith that God's promise was fulfilled.

John 3:1-17 tells of Nicodemus, Pharisee and a member of the Jewish ruling council. He "came to Jesus at night and said..." This was a man with something to lose by seeking out Jesus. He was probably concerned about being seen with Jesus. What would the other religious leaders do? At the same time, it's clear that we are called to follow God no matter the cost. What are we to do with Nicodemus? I'm thinking we ought to deal with Nicodemus as Jesus did -- with love and grace, and with a challenge to take another step of faith.

Christians tend to talk about taking a leap of faith, and it's only fair for me to acknowledge that the "leap" I took twenty-one years ago wasn't much of a leap at all. It was a quiet, very tentative, very small step. But it was a step forward, and God honored my just-enough faith. A life of faith -- walking with Christ day by day -- is more a series of little steps than one big one.

If you've never followed the lectionary, I'd challenge you to join me in it, at least through Lent. There are passages from Old Testament history, Psalms/writings, history of Jesus' time, and other New Testament each week. It's a great place to start. Here are lectionary texts for next Sunday:
Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 95
Romans 5:1-11
John 4:5-42

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