NAMS Advent Blog, week 2

Faith (By Manik Corea)

In this second of our blog series for Advent season 2021, having begun with ‘love’, we look at ‘faith’ this week. Namely, how Advent calls us to an obedient faith that settles for no half-measures but seeks to be and do all that God asks of us, this season and always. 

Faith pervades the birth narrative of Jesus like footprints on sand – distinctly at times, imperceptibly at others. Let’s follow its trail: 

See a young, virgin girl submit herself in faith to the startling angelic announcement that she is to bear the Son of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. See an older, experienced priest articulate unbelief that God could actually answer his prayer for a child, a prophet who would prepare the way for Messiah. The angel sentences him to temporary silence for his word of doubt [1].  

The faithful Joseph on the other hand trusts and bears the shame of his wife’s pregnancy outside wedlock, learning later that the child in her is not the fruit of her unfaithfulness, but is the fulfillment of the hope of Israel. Later, he heeds the voice of prophetic warning and leads his blessed family to seek refuge in Egypt to wait out the hellish rage of Herod.

We read of sleepy shepherds heralded by angels, who then make haste to find the baby – and of foreign-tongued magi trusting a heavenly sign to lead them to the king of the Jews.

When God wants to do a work, he looks for men and women of faith to partner with.

Our faith towards God in turn demonstrates our submission and alignment with God’s will and wisdom. Indeed, “… without faith, it is impossible to please (the Lord) ….” (Hebrews 11:6).

In his earthly ministry, faith was the one quality Jesus found sorely lacking in Israel and in his disciples time and time again [2].  He marveled when he found it in a Roman Centurion [3].  He questioned if he would still find it in his future return [4].  He called us nevertheless to have faith in God [5].  

What does it mean then to be people of faith? 

The Hebrew word for faith is better translated as ‘faithfulness’ – it connotes acting in loyalty towards God, by doing as He says. Habakkuk 2:4, which became the rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation, should be seen in the context in which it was spoken, a call to persistent faithful living.  [6]

Therefore, faithfulness is much more a ‘doing’ activity more than an ‘professed’ belief – it is more ‘deeds’ than ‘creeds’. Such that James could say it must be seen in what we do or how we live, or it is dead [7].  Our obedience to Christ should thus be but a logical outcome of our faithfulness to him (Romans 1:5; 16:26). 

That great chapter of faith, Hebrews 11, is all about what great men and women of faith did as they trusted and obeyed God. Obedient faith always leads to action.

This Advent and always, may we be disciples of obedient faith who are found faithful in Christ.  

Would you like to make a difference somewhere in the world this Christmas?
Even a small gift will go a long way……
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[1] Luke 1:38 and 1:13, 18-22.
[2] Matthew 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; Mark 6:5-6, etc
[3] Luke 7:9
[4] Luke 18:8
[5] Mark 11:22; John 14:1
[6] Keeping faith would help the righteous in Israel to survive the coming invasion by the cruel Babylonians. This sense of its persistence is carried into the New Testament. Verses like Luke 8:15; Romans 1:17 and Hebrews 10:38- 39 bear out the link between faith and perseverance
[7] James 2:17. The Message paraphrases this particularly well: “Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?”

NAMS Advent Blog, week 2

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