Aloha Friday Message – January 27, 2012 – Seven Aspects of Faith

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KJV Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
NAB Hebrews 11:1 Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.
NLT Hebrews 11:1 What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see.
NJB Hebrews 11:1 Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of realities that are unseen.

Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.
~ St. Augustine.
I have been challenged recently to think about what my faith is and how it shapes my life. That got me thinking about the shape of faith. Well, of course the first thing that came to mind was a triangle – well, actually a tetrahedron, but we already covered that some time ago.

Believing in the Trinity is a doctrine – a piece of what faith is all about – but it doesn’t’ quite express what I believe.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul said
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Paul’s discourse in this passage is about the Hebrews who were heirs to the Tradition in Moses of a promised redeemer, the Messiah. He’s answering the questions about why the gentiles had received faith and grace while many Israelites had not because the rejected Jesus testimony.

Paul cites the authority of the Law (Moses) and the strength of Tradition (Isaiah) to describe how it came about that the gentiles had become adopted heirs, with and through Jesus, as part of God’s plan for salvation for every earthling – ever! In this discourse, this exposition of God’s plan, Paul relies heavily on Scripture as well. All of the quotations he uses in this passage are from sacred Scripture. So these three things then shape his argument: Scripture, Authority, and Tradition.

Paul placed hearing the Word of God at the beginning of Faith. If you haven’t heard the message, how can you start building faith? God’s plan for salvation began before Jesus ministry on Earth began, but Jesus was part of the Trinity before Creation began. For me, that is also where my understating of faith begins – in scripture. As I feed on the Word, it transforms me and my spiritual life transcends my mortal life. I became aware of the salvation in Christ that Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection guaranteed every living soul when I was just a child. Many, many times since that first childhood understanding I have relearned what that salvation cost, and how I have added to that cost.

Each time that level of understanding changed, it was like a new conversion – a conversion where I let go of one more piece of my selfishness (even an infinitesimally small piece has a great effect) – and that conversion strengthened my understanding of scripture which strengthened my understanding of salvation, which then anchored my “latest conversion.”

I try to remember and celebrate the important spiritual events in my life –
– Infant Baptism 3/27/48,
– Initiation into the Catholic Church on 4/5/69,
– First Church Membership on 4/18/55,
– Marriage (my absolute favorite spiritual event to celebrate) on 4/19/69. and
– Confirmation on 3/25/77
And others.

As I go through this process, I see the truth in Jesus statement, “The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you….” In this passage Jesus is saying we should listen carefully because the more carefully we listen the better we will understand and the more our knowledge will be increased. (Mark 4:24) But again, if no one is sending the message, what is there to hear? We now recognize the importance of the fourth side of that square inside the triangle – Evangelization. That’s how the word gets out. Evangelization is The Great Commission as recorded in Mark 16:15-16: He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” Even the Spirit testifies on behalf of Salvation when someone is listening really closely. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Notice that Paul says WITH our spirits and not TO our spirits.

So, when we evangelize, the Spirit of God testifies with us because we are his children (always remember John 1:12 when you see that assertion). And that brings us right back to the base – Scripture. This process of thinking and living like an evangelist is the calling of every Christian in every time in every place. Paul sent out missionaries like Timothy, Titus, Silvanus, and others to establish the early churches. Remember the controversy in Jerusalem when the Hellenists complained that their widows were not being treated fairly? The Apostles (The 12) told the Hellenists to select 7 Deacons (The 7) from among their members. By this we know the first chosen deacons were not Jews, but Greeks, gentiles, – among them Stephen (the first martyr) and Philip (called “The Evangelist” a powerful preacher who converted Simon the Magician in Samaria). Those fledgling steps were the first in establishing the structure and teaching authority of the church at the very beginning when Christian it was still called The Way.

For me, especially since my conscious and joyous decision to embrace my catholic Catholic faith in 1969, my faith has grown and been shaped by these Seven Aspects of Faith: [1] Scripture – as proclaimed through the Church, and Scripture – as I feed on it, ponder it, apply, it, and – most importantly – share it so that it takes root and grows, [2] Authority – as defined by the Magisterium, [3] Tradition – as handed down to us from the days of Moses, the lives of the prophets, the writings of the Church Fathers, and the Councils that defined our Creed, [5] my sure knowledge of the absolute saving power of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus, [6] Conversion – not just once but renewed with every repentance and every new insight into the Mystery of Faith, and [7] Evangelization – the opportunity to share the Gospel. That sharing is done through proclamation, witness, and just plain daily living. A popular hymn written in 1966 called “They’ll know we are Christians by our Love” carries this set of lines in the third and final verse:

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land
And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
They will know we are Christians by our love
© 1966 by F.E.L. Publications, Ltd./ASCAP (1925 Pontius Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025)

THAT, to me, is faith – both active and contemplative. It is all that faith needs to be because it is all that faith is. My faith is kept alive and true by the Seven Aspects of Faith, but it is lived out in the times I can love God and others more than I love myself without being unloving to me (a/k/a sin).

Now, for those of you who read more carefully, why did I write “catholic Catholic” above? Big-C-Catholic is the Church. Little-C catholic is “universal, wide-reaching, all-embracing, and extensive.” So that sentence would begin, ” For me, especially since my conscious and joyous decision to embrace my universal, wide-reaching, all-embracing, and extensive Catholic faith in 1969, … ” What that means to me is that every single one of you is part of what that faith reaches, touches, embraces, and loves. But, you’re not alone! People who are not in the MBN are included in that. People who are not Christians are included in that. Only non-humans are excluded (and I’m not 100% sure about that because surely some dogs, cats, horses, and what-have-you might go to heaven), and that’s only because I don’t have any of the Seven Aspects of Faith that testify to them.

So, that’s what I believe and why. I am glad that from time to time FAITH is challenged. There’s a tendency to get flabby when you don’t work out, and flabby faith is just so … well, you know.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

Share-A-Prayer

TM: Another diagnosis of unexpected but already advanced ovarian cancer with apparent metastases to other locations. Diagnosis is less than a week old, so pray for wisdom for the physicians and the patient as they plot a course of treatments.

RH: Another stroke and it’s back to Physical Therapy for a week. Fortunately damage was not as severe as it could have been and the OutLook for recovery is good.

FO: making real progress on the second round of treatment! Numbers are looking good, spirits are high, and the ability to tolerate all that toxic stuff used to kill the cancer is as strong as ever. BRAVO! Keep going! MBN – keep praying! IT’S WORKING!!

TH: Got a part-time job – now we’re shooting for full-time with decent benefits. TH credits your prayerful support for this breakthrough.

DT: Back from a brief hospitalization for renal failure. Thank God the family knows how to recognize and cope with problems like that!

Say, how about telling me about your faith?

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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