What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling-stone, as it is written,
‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’
I imagine that at this time of growth in Christianity, the Jewish people were pretty miffed by Paul’s claims. Their whole lives had been spent following the law, doing the right thing, pursuing Godliness and righteousness. And now, non-Jews were being offered forgiveness, wholeness and righteousness by just believing. They didn’t have to lift a finger and they would find themselves standing on The Rock, instead of stumbling over it. In Aramaic the expression to stand in faith, literally means to stand on a rock.
What do we need Jesus to reveal to us about our faith? Are we too busy with works to give time to grow our faith, to listen and hear what God is saying? Maybe we need to revisit scriptures that we know well, to look at them with fresh eyes and to ask God what they mean in our current circumstances? We enjoy tradition and status quo. We feel secure when we know what scripture means and we hear familiar passages. Yet through every season of our lives God interacts with us according to what we need for that time. Hidden in the familiar there is always a new conversation that God wants to have with us. Two important questions we should ask are: “Who are You for me today Lord?’ and “what do You want to say to me today?” Even when we are reading the Bible we are involved in a relationship with God. It is not about how much we read or understand, but how our faith grows through what we read and what God says to us through His Word. So, knowing about God should not become a stumbling God, when what is important is knowing God and letting our faith in Him grow.
As we read and listen today, Lord, help us to do so with fresh eyes and open ears, hearts and minds. May Your words be as though we are reading them for the first time. May we be excited by new teaching, overjoyed by revelation and at peace in our relationship with You. May we grow by hearing and by faith, and will you bless everything we put our hands to today. Amen.
Jo Patel, Local Church Leader, Wattisfield and Diss URC