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Faith in the face of Jesus

12/20/2016

Faith Word Showing Spiritual Belief Or Trust

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.  (Gal 5:22-23)

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

 

In other words, faith stems from our willingness to accept, as truth, that which we are not able to see, taste, touch, smell, hear, or fully understand.  In the Bible we can read about people who were visited by God (Abraham who ate with God), who were spoken to by God (Moses at the burning bush), and who touched God (Jacob wrestling with God at night).  But, again, it takes also takes faith to believe these stories because it takes faith to first believe in God, and then to believe God cares about us, talks to, guides, provides for, protects, and loves each individual person who has or ever will exist.  Our faith, however, is greatly rewarded.

Enter Jesus, Emmanuel, “God with us.”  The blessing of Christmas, Emmanuel arrives.  God comes to live with us for 33 years.  The entry of “God with us”, Emmanuel, took away all excuses of worship and dedication to a God we cannot see or touch.  People ate with, walked with, listened to, touched, smelled, and witnessed God with us.  The whole New Testament is the testimony of that event and how it shaped the lives of people for the next 60+ years.  The world changed when Jesus was born.  There is no other person who has ever changed the world so dramatically, and who is still doing so today.  None, Nada, Zero, Zip.

And yet Christians today are persecuted for their faith all around the world.  Even in the United States where we have freedom of religion, Christians, although not physically persecuted, are slandered with statements such as “Christians are threats to the public.”

“But the Left, ever-vigilant against group-based slights on behalf of favored constituencies, is only too eager to label orthodox Christians as threats to the public. This bigotry has a purpose. It serves to demonize the last significant constituency standing in the way of sexual revolution radicalism. After all, unless you demonize your opposition, the general public will have little appetite for forcing Christians to pay for abortion pills, forcing Christian groups to open up to atheist leadership, or forcing Christian bakers or photographers to help celebrate events they find morally offensive.” (http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/416176/want-evidence-hysterical-anti-christian-bigotry-look-no-further-boycottindiana-david)

Hillary Clinton went so far as to say, “And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed”.  (http://shoebat.com/2015/04/24/hilary-clinton-christians-in-america-must-deny-their-faith-in-christianity/)

Christians lose their jobs and businesses for standing up for their faith, (examples: cities who refuse to allow Chick-fil-A to open up any restaurants in their city.  Cake bakers, photographers, and more who have lost businesses because of their beliefs.

(http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/01/07/atlanta-fire-chief-was-fired-because-my-christian-faith.html)

(http://rightwingnews.com/religion/choosing-god-over-government-cheese/)

Christians have been taunted and threatened for their beliefs.

“expressions of support for Prop 8 have generated a range of hostilities and harms that includes harassment, intimidation, vandalism, racial scapegoating, blacklisting, loss of employment, economic hardships, angry protests, violence, at least one death threat, and gross expressions of anti-religious bigotry”.  (http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2009/10/the-price-of-prop-8)

Christians have been maligned and slandered by name calling and other verbal abuse.

http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/you-will-be-persecuted-with-words

All this make faith a big deal.  It becomes more difficult to be strong in faith when we come up against such disparagement.  While some of it is self-inflicted, most is not.  There are Christians in name only, who live lives that are far from reflective of Jesus’ teaching.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  (Matthew 22:37-40 NIV)

When we forget to love our neighbor as ourselves, we have forgotten what it means to be a Christian, having faith in our Lord, and believing in what he taught.  We bring shame on the name of our Christ.  It is not a small thing, and needs to be taken seriously by each and every Christian.

Faith is a challenge for all these reasons, but when we walk in faith our lives are transformed and infused with joy and peace that cannot be fully explained to someone who has not experienced it.

As we near the day we celebrate the birth of our Lord, let us take time to do some introspection and self-check our faith and trust in the one whose name we carry, Christ, our Lord.  

 

Hold strong.  We are a light in a dark world.

Refresh your faith, and carry your light high.

You serve a might God.

You are loved by the King of Kings.

 

God bless you and Merry Christmas.

 

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