Scripture Reading: Romans 16:25-27
Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.
And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly. Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ He said to them, ‘Because of your little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.’’—Matthew 17:18-20
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. –Hebrews 11:1
What does Paul mean by the obedience of faith in the Romans scripture above? Other meanings of the Greek word, hupakoé, translated obedience here are submissiveness and compliance. We are not only called to have faith but are called to live our faith every moment of every day.
We may say in the current world’s chaos that we know God will take care of us, or perhaps note he will win out in the end, but Christ asks us what are we doing about changing the world into a Kingdom ruled by love, ruled by God, right now? Even tiny steps toward wholeness, oneness, and justice make a big difference, if not for others perhaps for ourselves.
This was my church’s week to serve dinner on Monday at a church geared for people living on the street. My family is coming to my house to celebrate Christmas on Saturday. My work as part of the team preparing and serving this meal was solely an act of obedience. We had committed in the summer to serve this week and knew we would all be very busy. We served the easiest but best meal we could prepare.
During the worship, service participants are encouraged to witness something of hope happening in their lives. No one responded for a few minutes finally one man said he was celebrating his eighth year of sobriety that day. A short time later a woman reported after being released from jail a few weeks earlier she found herself homeless with no income. She now has an apartment and a part-time job with the help of the staff of the church and other local services. Finally, one young woman indicated that her drug tests were clean for the past three months and thus she was going to be allowed to see her seven-year-old daughter who was removed from her care some years ago. My hope and faith were renewed as I joined with the Whole congregation in praising God for these miracles of faith.
Prayer: Lord, make us instruments of your peace and love and hope and faith. Amen.
All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.