Think back for a few minutes about what God was doing 500 years ago. In the western world where Christian faith was being more and more characterized by lists of duties and obligations rather than deep faith, people like Luther, Calvin and Zwingli shredded their own résumés and tacked up a different set of criteria on places like that door in Wittenberg.
For them it was all about faith — sola fide, sola gratia — God’s grace offered freely to everyone regardless of their checkered past of deeds good and bad. Like Paul, they saw God’s grace as the foundation for their salvation, not our own feeble attempts at “faking it” as people we’re not.
The God who created us knows us intimately — no background check needed — and yet still seeks to love us, change us, employ us as God’s hands and feet in the world. The good news for us is that, through Christ, God saves us by Grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10). We can’t earn this nor do we deserve it. Faith, belief in God’s love for us and confidence in God’s saving grace, is the only qualification needed.
St. Francis, who lived long before Luther, prayed the following prayer day after day, for months while kneeling in little broken down church outside Assisi called San Daminano.
Most high, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me, Lord,
correct faith, firm hope, perfect charity,
wisdom and perception,
that I may do what is truly your most holy will.
Francis relationship with God was as intimate as anyone in history.
There’s a lot to unpack in this prayer. Print it out, and try praying it every day for the next month. Francis’s relationship with God was as intimate as anyone in history. Yet he began by recognizing the reality that God is “high” and “glorious.” When we know God’s magnificence is immeasurable, that God holds all the galaxies in the palm of God’s hand, we then are moved by the miracle of God’s tender, deeply personal attentiveness to us, God’s mercy that is even more powerful than the forces that brought the universe into being.
And what, first and foremost, does Francis ask God to give him? CORRECT FAITH! May this be cry of our heart: Lord Jesus give us FAITH! This Sunday, our Director of Mission, Sonja Knutson will be sharing the message on FAITH. Read Ephesians 2:8-10 and pray that God will give you faith. For we know “without Faith it is impossible to please God.” – Hebrews 11:6.
I look forward to worshipping with you on Sunday!