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Wednesday Word: Faith

November 18, 2020 | Jay T. Smith

Looking Ahead: Faith

35 As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. 36 Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this was. 37 They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. 38 And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39 Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40 And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He questioned him, 41 “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” 42 And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” 43 Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God. (Luke 18:35-43 / Mark 10:46-52 NASB)

The Widening Divide

What do we do after the election? Our hope in Christ for a better world and a better country continues to sustain us, but what about life moving forward? Christians, both Republicans and Democrats, are divided unlike ever before, and the divide is widening by the hour. Indeed, Evangelicals have seen a new splinter group emerge: the Patriot Church. According to Washington Post reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey, the Patriot Church is, “part of an evolving network of nondenominational start-up congregations that say they want to take the country back for God.” (For insight into the movement, see Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Seeking power in Jesus’ name: Trump sparks a rise of Patriot Churches,” Washington Post, October 26, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2020/10/26/trump-christian-nationalism-patriot-church/).

It would seem that one of the interesting aspects of living in a country that espouses freedom of religion, is that the Church is prone to schism. Wouldn’t you think that in times as difficult as the ones in which we now live, Christians would find a way to unite? Instead, the American church has become mortally ill, and there seems to be no vaccine in sight. What is our next step then? Faith; faith is the next step.

Theological Roots

It is time to return to our theological roots. Bartimaeus, the blind man in our text above, calls out simply, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Although the crowd attempts to silence him, he continues to “cry out all the more.” No complex theological key phrases, no biblical citations. He simply calls out to God from his heart to his mouth. He calls on God to show mercy until Jesus asks him what he wants. He wants to see. Jesus give him his sight and states, “your faith, has made you well.” We need to return to the foundation of the Gospel. We need to cry out for God’s mercy.

Brokenness Runs Deep

We are far more broken than we know and desperately need the mercy and healing of Jesus. Only radical belief in Jesus will restore our brokenness. But you say, “how are we broken?” The fact that we have attempted to place the church in subservience to government and culture; the fact that we find it appropriate to use cruel, abusive language, and behaviors towards our neighbors; the fact that we attempt to use prophecy to affirm the action of government, rather than to stand prophetically as a counter-culture in the face of government corruption; the fact that we turn our face away from unconscionable immorality in order to attain political and financial goals; and, the fact that we try to use God in order to justify our agenda, rather than God’s agenda, all demonstrate our brokenness. This sickness spans both political parties, as well as individuals. God will not be used to justify anything we do. Indeed, we are called to live according to God’s will, not our own.

Like Bartimaeus, we need to respond to God’s grace once again and exercise a radical, maybe painful faith, in order that Jesus would remove the scales from our eyes and enable us to see with God’s eyes, and to accomplish God’s mission again. Faith is the only way forward for the church, God’s people. Belief in Jesus as the Son of God is the only confession that saves us. It is what made Bartimaeus see and what inspired him to become a disciple to follow Jesus. Notice Jesus does not ask us if He can follow us and fulfill our desires; rather, we are to follow Him. And faith is the only way.

Faith Is in God, Not Political Parties

Everyone at YTI wants to see our country become whole again and for Christ to change our world. However, our faith cannot be misspent on parties (Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, etc.) or politicians. Indeed that is a waste of faith, and we must repent. Our faith has one purpose, to reconnect us with God through Jesus. God wants to change our nation and world; but not through political or economic machinations. As we look past our 2020 election and continue to struggle with the COVID-19 virus—and all of the accompanying problems—have faith in God, through Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Let Jesus remove the scales from your eyes, and let him lead you.

Jay T. Smith

President and Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics

Dr. Jay Smith leads the Yellowstone Theological Institute as its president. Dr. Smith has served as minister of youth, music and as senior […]

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