For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.
For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’)—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. Hoping against hope, he believed that he would become ‘the father of many nations’, according to what was said, ‘So numerous shall your descendants be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was already as good as dead (for he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification.
Faith and trust, they are intangible yet crucial to our lives. How many people have talked about a time their trust was broken? How many of us struggle to trust God because we have had our trust betrayed by those who were central to our lives? How often are faith and trust intermingled?
Paul reminds us in this reading that Abraham had both faith and trust in God without any “proof” and that it is this faith and trust that not only made him righteous but also the sort of example we as Jesus followers should be encouraged by. Abraham didn’t “do stuff” to be saved and marked as one of God’s, he simply believed and trusted.
This is definitely easier said than done though because although we want to believe that people are good and respectful to each other but we know that some people have abused that, we know that some churches which have been open to the public have been vandalised. As individuals I’m sure there are countless things that could be given as examples, but does all of this make us stop believing in God or believing that there is good in people? It might dent our faith for a while or cause us to ask God why, but hopefully it does not mean we turn our backs on humanity or God.
Paul emphasises Abraham’s story because it speaks to us as individuals and ties our present and future to our past as people of faith. This emphasis calls us to trust God whether we know and understand what is happening in our lives or not. It reminds the church that God has a hand over everything and even though that means we are still called to be proactive in situations, God is involved in that and every situation.
You love us unconditionally, even when we break trust with each other and you.
Enable us to have stronger faith in you and learn how to better trust one another and be trusted so we can more effectively be your hands and feet in the world.
Kirsty-Ann Mabbott, Church Related Community Worker at Ansty Road and St Columba’s, Coventry.