John 14: 12, 15,21
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father…If you love me, keep my commands…Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
I started reading Karl Barth’s Call To Discipleship, and appreciate how tightly he wraps faith and obedience together. We have a bad habit of making faith some ethereal concept that is for books and dreams of heaven and fantasy, when the Bible is clear that faith leads to action which leads to changed lives. Faith has this-worldly, immediate, consequences to our lives and the lives of the world around us. Barth writes, “But in the faith here required we do not have a trust in the abstract or general, nor do we have the rash confidence of a hazardous journey into space. It is demanded by Jesus-the Son of Man who as the Son of God speaks in the name and with the full authority of God. And Jesus demands I trust in him and therefore, in the concrete form that this involves, trust in God. He demands faith in the form of obedience; obedience to himself.”
In this age of scientific skepticism where people doubt the existence of anything we cannot perceive with our senses and instruments of measurement, we sometimes struggle with faith which requires us to believe in reality as God reveals it in Scripture and in Jesus Christ and through his Holy Spirit’s witness to our spirits. And when we struggle to have faith in God, we struggle to act according to this other reality God invites us to. Acting on faith is, after all, not the same as acting on sight. There is a letting go of ourselves, a complete entrusting of our lives into the hands of God. Again Barth writes,”It (faith) always involves the decision of a new day; the seizing of a new opportunity that was not present yesterday but is now given in and with the call of Jesus. Inevitably, people who are called by Jesus renounce and turn away from themselves as they were yesterday.”
When I think of faith I often remember Rob Willets, our 6’6”, 250lb youth director and I standing on top of a 60 foot platform surrounded by chiding youth on the ground who were telling us to stop being wimps and to jump onto the zip lines that would take us sailing through the trees! There was really no way down that was any better. Could I believe that the zip line would keep me from falling to my death? Enjoying the thrill of the zip line involve entrusting my life with all of my weight onto the thin wire. It worked, and man, what a ride! So it is with Jesus. The thrill of life with him requires faith which leads to action which leads to changed lives and a restored creation.