Short Meds in ‘Living the Life’: 14. Faith & Love
Gal 5:6 “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
As we started this series we declared our intent was to seek to view afresh this Christian life we are called to live and they have turned out to be things that are quite contrary to the ways that the world thinks. Just recently we have been thinking how God’s provision for us is not limited by material limitations but now we go backwards, so to speak, by observing the most basic and most fundamental elements of the Christian faith.
One paraphrase version speaks of “faith expressed in love” while another puts it, “faith which expresses itself in love,” but it seems to me that the emphasis they bring is on OUR action, our response, in our love for God we express faith, and I am sure that is partly right, but there is another deeper way, I believe of viewing this. The apostle John wrote, “We love because he first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19) Put it another way, we have love because we are loved, because we are the recipients of love. God made us to be people capable of giving and receiving love, knowing something of what love means and we are what we are today because we have been loved and we look into a future in which we anticipate more of this love. We live, with Him, in an environment of love; it is like the air we breathe, it’s all around us.
Much of the time Christians focus their thinking and their ‘spiritual actions’ on reaching out to God, of performing ‘worship’ or ‘prayer’ as vehicles not only expressing our love but as means of reaching Him. We ‘do’ to get near Him, we ‘do’ to achieve things and yet our verse above suggests a possibility of something else, of faith being an expression of living in this fish tank of love, of us swimming in it.
In context Paul was saying, put aside all your religiosity, your religious thinking, the only thing that matters is the way faith oozes out of your live saturated by God’s love. We don’t HAVE to have faith, because when we realize we are in this environment of love, faith will naturally flow through us, as we hear the whispers of God and respond the His advances of love, advances that were seen in the Cross, received as the Spirit was imparted and which will continue for ever: today, tomorrow and into eternity, His love. So yes, like the air we breathe, His love surrounds us and like the air around us we can take it for granted, but faith appreciates it and soars in it. Can you see this? The possible life for this year, seen not as a series of actions, or of church performances, but as life in an existence that IS love because we are ‘in Him’ and He IS love (1 Jn 4:8,16). When we become aware of this, all we think, say and do is an expression of faith that naturally flows out of being loved, of being aware of this entire environment of love in which we now exist. Maybe we hadn’t been aware if it before, but now we bathe in it, swim in it, rejoice in it, grow in it, worship in it, speak naturally to God in it, read His word with fresh eyes in it, love others in it. Do it, enjoy it, wonder in it.