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 (Manna 10)
Some Thoughts on Faith
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Some Thoughts on Faith

            Church member: Dear Preacher, what did you preach just now?

            Preacher: Faith, faith, faith.


An abiding religious experience lies in the dedication of the individual’s conscience to God and distinct ritual observances. Strictly speaking, the former is far more important than the latter, for religious practice would lose its intended meaning when devoid of “worship” in the spirit and in truth. The communal liturgical hymn-singing, reading of the Scriptures, or congrega­tional prayer provides the individual with the necessary force and learning required in order to cope with the world which does not live according to pious standards. The underlying meaning of worship is to give the members a sense of immediacy in shoring with the faith of the righteous and the faithful people of God in the past. This “sharing” of the commendable, if not “great” faith is not conducted in any abstract definition or in a high-flown oratory, but in the individual’s awareness for a need to emulate and commit to the faith provided by the exemplary Biblical characters in our daily living.


Religious sensitivity for what is good and what should be done is itself a moral obligation, valid through commitment to its fruition. What is precious in the sight of God is a faith described not as a verbal reality, but as a matter of cognition. Jesus Christ used to teach people about the right way acceptable to the Kingdom of God. One of the first and foremost ethical principles is the commandment to love. But this is related to a simple statement which evokes o response and demands a verdict. “What do you think?” Jesus sometimes begins, and where the words are not found, the question is implied. Our Lord Jesus then continued in parables relating a true-to-life story or the description of something familiar to every ordinary person. Once Jesus related a parable to a Judaic lawyer:

A man from Jerusalem on his way to Jericho was beaten, robbed, and left on the roadside half conscious...Three persons, a priest, a Levite, and a much-hated Samaritan passed by. Ironically, the first two who had God, the Levitical priesthood and the Temple as the objects of their ritual observance, turned away from the man. The motives are not given in the parable, but their action betrays a humanitarian course. Then, the despised Samaritan with whom the Jews refused to associate, came to the rescue and took care of him even covering the minute details.

The question Jesus asks at the end of the parable of ‘the Good Samaritan” is: “Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” (Lk 10:36). Jesus does not appeal to the cognitive level of the doctor of the law or of the hearers of the parable. He is appealing to the urgent issue of the Judaic or Christian faith: This is not just an interesting story. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. Let him hear with on inner ear and with a mind and strength to work it out for himself. The blessing of God is given to those who hear and out of love do according to His words (Mt 7:24-26).


Every one in Christ must show that his faith is alive and active. Without such on endeavor, workers of God and general membership can neither demonstrate nor enjoy the love of God and favor of men. Persons holding a sacred office must be careful about what they have taught (1 Tim 4:16). Their faith and their service of the Lord can be reduced to a mechanical, ritualistic and Pharisaic fashion, if they suffer from delusions of grandeur or self-importance. Likewise, church goers may easily miss the important connection between hearing and doing Christ’s words, if they are inclined more to material gain than to spiritual illumination. Under such circumstances, faith for the ministers and members will become something that stands outside the ordinary daily living. Such words of God as the command to love and the need to be worthy of Him become a sounding cymbal. Human beings are endowed with the faculty of hearing and are given the same opportunity to think and to act. Jesus makes all his teaching about the entry to the Kingdom of God depend upon the doing of His own words. Such religious elites as the Pharisees and the scribes foiled the righteousness of God and their knowledge of the Law could not prevent them from becoming religious hypocrites.


Faith requires human endeavor to bridge the gap between the ideal and the real, between the mind and the heart. I have often heard sermons urging members to be persons of great faith. Indeed, I would like to become a Joseph, a Moses, a Daniel, or a Paul. These are my ideals. But pomposity and furor produce either illusion or frustration. Illusion, because the ideals are somehow removed from the stark reality of one’s circumstances. Frustration, because they are too intangible and too high to reach instantaneously. An emotionally - charged exhortation causes temporary agitation, as it appeals not to reason. The atmospheric fervency lasts only momentary. Many people have been moved by the stirring message during spiritual convocations or fervent prayer sessions but they do not hold on to their zeal. It is clear that faith is a combination of reason and faith, divine power and wisdom, belief and action.

We have often been encouraged to learn from Moses “meeting” with God on the top of Mountain Sinai. This means that if I were now at Mount Sinai, I would strive to become the leader of the congregation and to be qualified so that I would ascend the summit, leaving behind me the multitudes on the plain, and the seventy elders, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu halfway in the mountain. Certainly, if the Lord chose to manifest Himself in the same way, I could be at the top. But at a turn of thought, I realize that there is one Moses and numerous members, and that Moses’ leadership means humble service and stoic magnitude. The Lord’s command for faith starts with an awareness, a determination to remain humble, to act upon even a minute and ordinary situation, instead of being a solitary figure climbing an empyrean height. Admittedly, I could bear with false persecution like the young Joseph enduring the infamous slander of his master’s wife, or like the three friends of Daniel defying King Nebuchadnezzar and the fiery furnace. Indeed, I can retain my integrity like Joseph, when I am confronted with a sensual attraction or something spiritually damaging. I will have to look within before I can look towards the “clouds above the mountain”. I am aware that I must deal with an inner struggle in me, before I presumably talk about the spiritual height. This is an empirical reality spoken of by the apostle Paul concerning everyman’s mental journey:

I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin which dwells within me... For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, but I see in my members (flesh) another Low at war with the low of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin which dwells in my members...

I might be expecting an angel to appear in the furnace to keep me olive by reversing the natural law that material will be consumed by fire, were I to be cast in the fiery kiln. My faith would dictate me to die for the Lord as a martyr. What is taken into account is that I win the battle over the low of the flesh. Jesus has laid down the principles of actions which I must not neglect at my eternal peril. With this understanding I will first rely on Jesus Christ to overcome my own inadequacies, and then remaining lowly and gentle, I will confirm my faith by a moral and spiritual vitality in my daily life amidst the human world. After all, it is from the human plane that I build up my faith, love, and hope, and not until then will I begin to climb the spiritual ascent with my fellow Christians. The Lord will graciously lead those who have fulfilled the basic moral obligations and by His guiding hand we will reach the summit.

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