Sermon: March 15, 2009

16 03 2009

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

I would like to begin this morning by sharing with you a poem from “The Winner’s Manual.” The poem is entitled “The Guy in the Glass.”

When you get what you want in your struggle for self, And the world makes you King for a day, Then go to the mirror and look at yourself, And see what that guy has to say. For it isn’t your Father, or Mother, or Wife, Who judgment upon you must pass. The feller whose verdict counts most in your life Is the guy staring back from the glass. He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest, For he’s with you clear up to the end, And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test If the guy in the glass is your friend. You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum, And think you’re a wonderful guy, But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum If you can’t look him straight in the eye. You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years, And get pats on the back as you pass, But your final reward will be heartaches and tears If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass. Today I want to talk about faith and belief.

Now I know when I say those two words, most of you are thinking that they are the same thing. Faith. Belief. Two words for the same thing.

Actually they are two sides of the same coin. Faith is what people have inside themselves in something bigger than themselves. Belief has to do with what you do with that faith. Another way of saying that is to say that Faith is who you are. Belief is what you do with you faith. In other words, Faith is my belief in something greater than myself. I believe that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. I believe that God loves me so much that He gave His only Son to come down here on earth – to live – to die – and to rise again – so that I might have the promise of eternal life. I believe that that this God loves me so much that He walks beside me in each and every moment of life and that nothing ever separates me from His love for me – as St. Paul said:

Nothing ever separates us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, neither height nor depth, nor powers nor principalities, not even life or death separates me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. I believe that this God who loves me and walks with me and lifts me – doesn’t desert me in the moment of death, but that when I reach that final moment of life that I pass from this life into the arms of a loving and caring God.

Again as St. Paul said: Brethren, I would not have you to be ignorant concerning them which have fallen asleep that you sorrow not as those who have no hope, for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. Now that is Faith. Belief is what I do with that Faith. How I live out my life each and every day. Now I know even as I say that – that there are people who live out there life totally unaffected by their Faith. There are people who come to church every Sunday – sit in pews or chairs – who listen to organs or guitars – who say all the right words – worship every Sunday – and then leave their places of worship totally unaffected by the things that they have said or done in places like this. I think that some people do that because they are afraid. We spoke of them last week.

Those people who are so afraid to live in the now because of what will happen in the then. They are so afraid that if they live their lifes as Christians in the now that they will be taken advantage of in the then. They are so afraid that if they give away some of themselves in the now – their time – their talents – their treasures – that there won’t be enough of their time – their talents – their treasures – for them in the then. There are many like that. They come to church. They say the right words. Do the right things. And then go home and live in fear. They are afraid that all of those promises of God aren’t true. They are afraid that they will be left without. Then are those who simply compartmentalize their faith. Here is church. Here is the rest of my life. Here is love and joy. Let’s all join hands and sing Kum By Yah. Out there it is a dog eat dog world. It is every man for himself. It’s a jungle out there. It is almost as if they are schizophrenic. They live two lives. One here. One there. They have faith. They just don’t have belief. They have faith in God.

They just can’t put that faith into action. And that, my friends, is belief is all about. St. Augustine said: Faith is believing what we do not see. The reward of faith is to see what we believe. I am going to say that again. Faith is believing what we do not see. The reward of faith is to see what we believe. Do you have faith but are you a little short on the belief? Well, join the rest of us. That is what all of us struggle with. Translating that faith that we have into belief. Translating that faith into action. But here is something to remember.

This is Jim Tressel speaking: Those outside our belief system will evaluate whether or not they should consider our beliefs as they observe the way we live. My hope is that when people observe me – whether it’s on the job, in the neighborhood, at church, or at the store – they’ll see something they’d like to know more about. Faith is who you are. Belief is what you do with you faith. How you live. You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years, And get pats on the back as you pass, But your final reward will be heartaches and tears If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.

Amen!

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