I’ve been around Christians and Christianity for thirty-five years now. I’ve been associated with Baptist, Pentecostal, Catholic and non-denominational organizations and churches. I’ve seen mysterious, authentic movements of God’s Spirit that have transformed people’s lives, and had conversations with pseudo-religious nuts who proclaimed they were the only ones who held true to “The One True Faith.” It’s been a wild ride.
Since I was saved in the 70’s, I’m quite familiar with the Faith movement. You know, those who liked to “name” their blessing and “claim” it in Jesus’ name. However, Galatians 5:6 sets that idea on its head, for Paul says, “In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” It seem that the ultimate expression of faith is not for the accumulation of things, but to express itself through love.
Scripture does not encourage us to have faith for prosperity, ministry, jobs, success, popularity, houses, the newest cell phone or a huge 401k. True, we are to have faith for our “daily bread,” but mostly we need to have a faith that expresses itself through love.
Jesus only gave us one “new” commandment: “Love one another” (John 13:34). Of course, this is not really a new commandment, but a remembrance of an old one (Lev. 19:18). After all the religious pomp and circumstances had been swept away, living in love was a new way of thinking for the first disciples of Christ. This was not a new commandment; it was simply new to the disciples. They were looking for a Messiah that would establish the Kingdom and annihilate their enemies, of which there were many. But Jesus reminded them, and us, to love one another; and not only those who already love us, but even our enemies and those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:14).
I’ll admit this is a hard thing to wrap my mind around. Is Paul telling me that if I ground my faith in anything but love then it doesn’t count? I think so. I wonder if this is why some people’s faith regarding healing goes unanswered. If a person wouldn’t use their healing as an avenue to love other people, then perhaps God will continue to work on healing their spirit before He heals their body (Mark 2:1-11). The same goes for money. I think God keeps some people in financial limbo because if they had an abundance of money they’d spend it selfishly on themselves.
A former pastor of mine was fond of saying, “You are blessed to be a blessing.” Every aspect of my life is intended to be a blessing to others. If I am healthy, wealthy and wise, then God intends those blessings to be freely given to those who need it most. Perhaps Paul is reminding all of us that it is time to have the faith to love with all our resources – heart, soul, mind and strength – for in the end that will be the only type of love, and faith, that will count.