There’s so much I want to say from these verses I don’t really know where to begin…
The faith of Abraham was reckoned to him as righteousness. “Righteousness” here is the same root elsewhere (perhaps poorly translated) as “justice” or “justification.”
Paul’s going after religious (particularly Jewish or Jewish Christian) folks with a chip on their shoulder here. It seems in Paul’s day certain church folks liked to down on others who didn’t follow the law. In their opinion, one had to conform to their prescribed moral, ethical, and religious-cultural patterns before God could really work. What resulted was a continuation of the us-vs-them, insiders-outsiders nonsense that was never the intention of the law to begin with.
And when I look at a lot of what passes for “Christianity,” I gotta tell you I see the same thing happening. I am so sick and tired of Christian folks acting as if we are at war with the world. I’m tired of the petitions. I’m tired of the smear campaigns. I’m utterly tired of the one-liners on Facebook (one thing I have not missed these last 8 days…).
Because in the midst of a “Christian” mindset that many times acts as if it has a duty to defend, prove, justify, or militantly promote the faith, the apostle Paul taps us on the shoulder.
And he whispers a question into our ear:
“Don’t you remember when Abraham’s faith was reckoned to him as Righteousnes?”
It was before he was circumcised.
That thought could (should?) be enough to knock us off our high-horses. The faith of Abraham happened before he would have been considered a faithful Jew in Jesus’ day. Before.
Faith. THEN behavior change.
Get the horse in front of the cart.
What that means, brothers and sisters, is that we simply must stop being so offended when folks who do not profess to follow Jesus live as if they’re not following Jesus. We are not at war with the world! (I almost went all-caps there but talked myself down from the ledge.)
We must share with people, partnering with God to open up space for the Spirit to work. It’s very difficult to do that when the only way we ever acknowledge their presence is when we’re griping about their “uncircumcised” lifestyle.
I know it’s a hard pill to swallow. But quite simply, our mission is not to change their behavior. That’s WAY to low a goal. Our mission is to see God change lives. Not so we will be comfortable or have one less thing about which to write our senator, but so death can become life. So darkness can become light. So God can change them from the inside out….
Lord, give us the faith of Abraham. The faith that was reckoned as righteousness ahead of time. Help us to rejoice when that faith begins to happen where we might least expect it.