Interacting with Faith
This morning as I prayed, I read Genesis 12:2. It is the blessing that God gives Abraham.
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.”
This is a powerful blessing of honor and empowerment. God promises to multiply Abraham into a great nation. He will be blessed - in other words, he will have what is good. The promise includes honor too – “I will make your name great”. All of those are great promises, multiplied, blessed, honored, but there is still more. God says, “and you will be a blessing”. Not only is he going to have what is good, but he is going to bring what is good to people everywhere he goes. It seems like this is more than just about possessions, but even more about identity. He would be the blessing. It was part of who he was and part of what he carried with him everywhere he went.
Abraham is celebrated for his faith. His claim to fame is the way he trusted this promise of God. But, the story in Genesis seems to describe a faith the ebbed and flowed. And still Abraham’s faith is held up as a model in Galatians and Hebrews. It seems that the aspect of Abraham’s faith which is celebrated is not the perfection or the lack of wavering, but the way he interacted with God and the way that Abraham allowed God’s promises to impact his actual life.
Dallas Willard gave a talk at a Renovaré conference at Asbury College once on the prayer of faith. He said that faith is interacting with something as if it were so. Willard used the analogy of a lightbulb to explain faith. We have faith that when we flip the switch, the light bulb will turn on. And our faith in the switch that leads us to walk over to the spot on the wall where the switch is and flip it acts with other forces, namely electricity, and lights turn on. Another example Willard gave was how the faith of a college student that she will get her bachelor’s degree, leads her to a particular course of action: showing up for class and writing papers that result in her actually getting the degree. If she didn’t think she was going to get the degree, would she pay the money and go to classes and write the papers? Probably not.
I don’t think the promises God gave to Abraham were for Abraham alone. Those of us who are children of Abraham are heirs of his legacy and of those promises. I wonder how God might be calling us to interact with those promises as though they were so. What would it mean to live as though who I am, or who you are is going to be multiplied? Or to live as though we are blessed or that our names will be honored? Considering how a college student organizes her life around the belief that she will get her degree, what patterns of behavior would we adopt if we believed we were honored? Or if faith is like knowing that the light will come on when we flip the switch, what are we going to walk across the room to do today, knowing that we will be a blessing?
It’s true you know. We will.