Last week, this column ended by celebrating the Lord’s joy:
We should accept the gift of God’s creation with great gratitude, and, yes, with the hope and indeed the full knowledge, through faith in God’s grace, that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Smile, and be glad, and rejoice.
This week’s readings from the Revised Common Lectionary continue the theme:
O sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day….
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the LORD; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.
But this time, in the other readings for the day, the joy is placed in a different context. The joy comes not merely because God is good and wonderful; the joy comes because we show faith in God. Without our faith, we do not experience the joy. In the psalm, the joy both calls us to, and is further reward for, our “ascrib[ing] to the Lord the glory due his name.” In Kings, the faith of just one man (Elijah) helped set the wandering people aright. Paul’s epistle tells us that salvation comes only through faith in the true Gospel and the true Christ. And in Luke’s Gospel passage, it is the faith not of a Jew, but of a Roman centurion, that not only brings healing to his servant but that is so strong as to amaze Jesus Himself.
Little else needs to be said. It is faith that leads to healing; faith that leads to redemption; faith that leads to joy.
Forgive the appeal to a pop culture that seldom does anything other than profane the faith, but rock star Bruce Springsteen even proclaimed, quite succinctly, this progression of faith before redemption, in his song “Badlands”:
I believe in the love that you gave me; I believe in the faith that can save me; I believe in the hope and I pray that some day it will raise me — above these badlands.
Faith will deliver. God will deliver. And when He does, well, as another psalm instructs us to say, “Oh Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall show forth thy praise.”
Quin Hillyer is a veteran conservative columnist. He has an undergraduate degree in Theology from Georgetown University and has served for years in various forms of ecumenical lay leadership.