Where does faith happen? For Luther, faith happens in us. Faith is not an abstract concept or an idea detached from everything. Faith is a gift from God and that gift is given to people. We have a tendency to talk about faith as if it’s separate from actual people. We act as if there’s some kind of “true” or “pure” faith that we could store it in a bottle. We would point to that bottle of faith to show others what true faith looks like. But that’s not how my faith works. Faith is for people which means faith needs people. We can’t reasonably separate faith from the people who experience it. So faith is more than something we have. Faith is, above all, lied.
And that lived faith is, for Luther, expressed in our relationships to one another. As we heard earlier in his writing, faith is the source of who we are. Faith is a deep seeded trust in God and God’s care for you. And how do we know that God cares about us? Because, through faith, we discover that God sent Jesus not only for the world; but for you too. Faith is a gift that trusts in God’s promises. And that trust is makes us free. There is nothing we can do to earn God’s love or God’s attention. There’s nothing we can think up that might bring us closer to God. Rather God comes to us, freeing us from the need to cross the uncrossable chasm separating us from God. So God, through Christ, builds a bridge across the gap we cannot cross.
Since we are free from trying to get God’s attention, we are then freed to live a life that trusts God. And that life, as we see in our reading today, is one that looks to our neighbor’s needs first. This life lives for other people before it lives for ourself. As Lutherans, we know that a Christian is more than someone who accepts a certain kind of belief. A Christian is also someone who lives the faith out loud. This kind of living is not easy and it does ask us to do difficult things. But being a Christian means we have a new name that invites us into a new way of living. “Without a doubt we are named after Christ – not absent from us but dwelling in us; in other words: provided that we believe in him and that, in turn and mutually, we are a second Christ to one another, doing for our neighbors as Christ does for us.” pg 525.
Each week, I write a reflection on one of our scripture readings/other readings for the week. This is from Christ Lutheran Church’s Worship Bulletin for Fifth Sunday in Lent, 3/18/2018.