Crossfunction: January 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

Living the "obedience of faith"

"1 Let us fear therefore lest the promise being left of entering into his rest, any of you should be thought to be wanting.
2 For unto us also it hath been declared, in like manner as unto them. But the word of hearing did not profit them, not being mixed with faith of those things they heard.
3 For we, who have believed, shall enter into rest; as he said: As I have sworn in my wrath; If they shall enter into my rest; and this indeed when the works from the foundation of the world were finished.
4 For in a certain place he spoke of the seventh day thus: And God rested the seventh day from all his works.
5 And in this place again: If they shall enter into my rest.
6 Seeing then it remaineth that some are to enter into it, and they, to whom it was first preached, did not enter because of unbelief:
7 Again he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time, as it is above said: To day if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
8 For if Jesus had given them rest, he would never have afterwards spoken of another day.
9 There remaineth therefore a day of rest for the people of God.
10 For he that is entered into his rest, the same also hath rested from his works, as God did from his.
11 Let us hasten therefore to enter into that rest; lest any man fall into the same example of unbelief."
-Hebrews 4:1-11 RSV

The author of Hebrews says that the Israelites did not reach the "place of rest" because they failed to have faith in the divine message delivered through God's messengers. He stresses that God's work was not lacking, that it was completed and therefore God rested on the seventh day. Likewise, we are cautioned to do everything necessary to be obedient to all that the gift of faith demands. Else we may find that we, like the Israelites who wandered the desert of disobedience, may disqualify ourselves from the promised land.

God's work of redemption is complete. But receiving this gift and remaining heir to its promise until the inheritance is at hand requires more than an initial and verbal "Yes". Faith is a gift that demands that we put into practice whatever God asks of us. That we believe with our minds and hearts, and put that belief into concrete practice with our will and body: that when we fail this, we repent and begin again and again, and persevere in this divine sonship until the end.

It is only this path that assures us of entering into the land that God has prepared for those who love Him.