We concluded last week’s meditation with a word from Martin Luther about faith that must be accompanied by visible and tangible response.
Calvin said as much too: “as often as we mention Faith alone . . . we are not thinking of a dead faith, which worketh not by love, but holding faith to be the only cause of justification. (Galatians 5:6; Romans 3:22.) It is, therefore, faith alone which justifies, and yet the faith which justifies is not alone.”
The Apostle Peter draws attention to similarly critical issues in his second letter. He notes that we have been called to be partakers of God’s glory, blessed with unshakable promises: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. (2 Peter 1:3–4). All done! We should say. Yes indeed! But then he goes on to speak against the complacency that leads to lukewarmness: For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, (2 Peter 1:5). Faith must be supported with responsible Christian conduct and ethical standards. We must make every effort to know what God’s will is. This might mean listening to the testimony of others, spending time in healthy Christian material, attending fellowship to study the Bible with others and praying together. This is knowledge through access to the right information.
Advent challenges us to avoid the narrow-mindedness that makes us dodge Christian obligations to ourselves, our families, our neighbours, friends, our communities, God’s Church and the society. We must seek ways to press on as people walking in the light of God, living as children of light. That way, we will not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but will rather be committed to exposing them, so that God’s Kingdom will come among us. Do you know all that you ought to know at this point of your Christian life? Do you have Bible-based convictions that make you stand your ground for Jesus, whatever others choose to do? Or are you just carried along with every wind of doctrine without verifying the spirit behind them? Advent is a time for serious soul-searching.
How much are we prepared to invest in our Christian lives to enlighten us? How about attending conferences, buying books (and reading them!), waiting on God to know His mind (and to obey!)? See how Apostle Paul put it to the Ephesians: Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart… (Ephesians 5:15–19).
We must open our eyes to see the distance ahead of us and then press on. We must seek to know what will help us grow into robust, Christlike, heavenly-minded but earthly-relevant children of God in a straying generation, where we are to shine like stars.
Most Rev. (Dr.) Emmanuel A.S. Egbunu, Bishop of Lokoja