We talked last week about faith in God’s promises to us, the forgiveness of sin, eternal life and the blessing to all humanity through our faith. These promises are about reconciling us to God.
Abraham did not live a good life to get the promises. He went where God told him. He was already worthy in God’s eyes. We do not get our promises, this reconciliation, because we are good. We get them through God’s grace given through Jesus. We live God’s way because God’s grace, to reconcile us, though we do not deserve it, or ask for it, has moved us to change.
We see this in the Gospel reading. Jesus goes to the well and talks to the woman, who is an outcast in her society because of her life choices. As she sees the forgiveness and reconciliation that Jesus offers, she gets excited and she goes back into the city to share with those who shun her. She doesn’t do it to gain Jesus’ gift, but because it has changed her.
Paul says, ‘… we are justified through faith,’. In this context I believe justified means worth. So, we are not worthy by works, but by our belief that God has reconciled us through Jesus. We show our faith in our hearts, which God knows. Our hearts impact on our actions and expression. The more the faith, the more joyful the heart; the more joyful the heart, the more joyful the actions and expression. Paul calls it boasting (v2). He also sees that it affects how we see suffering. As we suffer in our faith, it builds perseverance leading to character and hope. Faith is not just about the reconciliation, but how that reconciliation impacts on how we see and live life.
One thing that is important in this though is that Paul sees humanity as an enemy of God. For Paul Jesus’ act of dying meant more then just an act of love for a friend. It was an act of love for an enemy.
I believe that this is where faith is impacted. If I see myself as a good person and not an enemy then Jesus’ act is not as important, as if I see myself as an enemy. This too is important, it is not that Paul or anyone else see me as an enemy, but that I see myself as an enemy.
The woman at the well did not see herself as a good person. She was unworthy, but given the opportunity to be forgiven and reconciled, she rejoiced.
Reconciled to God is not about what God and Jesus did, but where it meets our lives. Do we need it? To celebrate Easter is to remember why it is important to us. No rejoicing where the gift is not needed.