Lent | 3.6.12
Psalm 105:1-11, 37-45
Hebrews 11:1-3, 13-19
Years ago in a research class, the professor told us that research could be reduced to three questions: “What?” “So what?” and “Now what?” What happens when we interrogate today’s Scripture readings with these three questions? First, what? The readings seem to be about faith and about God’s provision. What is that faith and what did God provide?
I have had personal encounters with people who have an animistic worldview. This means beliefs in spiritual powers residing in objects, fetishes or totems, which can be manipulated by various sacrifices and rituals to make events come about in favor of the supplicant. The faith these Scriptures refer to may have some superficial resemblance to this sort of animistic faith. It is a confidence in something beyond sensory perception. It is a confidence in something which will result in a future good for the supplicant. So far, there is an overlap in the “what?” of Biblical faith and faith in a pair of lucky dice or talisman one might mutter over for a favorable outcome in some event. In fact, confidence in an unseen yet coming good is essential in the defining of the “what” of Biblical faith.
The difference between the faith in God described in these passages and a sort of superstitious faith in anything else is graphically demonstrated in the Scripture readings for today. It is not the exercise of some human capacity to have confidence in something beyond itself but the exercise of that capacity directed specifically and exclusively to God which defines the “what” of Biblical faith. The Hebrews passage tells us that this faith in God gives those who have it a vision of a future good which is worth having even if the future good is never realized in this life. It is the security that, as Abraham confidently said to Isaac and later memorialized with the same words, “God will and has provided.”
Biblical faith is defined by its object: He in Whom our confidence and expectation of future good securely rest. Our faith rests securely in the Lamb God provided for our sins and the sins of the whole world. So what? Now what?
When darkness seems to veil His Face
I rest on His unchanging Grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
You can download the full Lent and Holy Week Devotional Guide at:http://www.belmont.edu/religion/files/lent-devotional-2012-final.pdf