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The Rich Man: What Gets in the Way

Today, we continue our fall Faces of Faith series with the story of the rich man from Mark. This man is often referred to as the rich young ruler—a synthesis of the ways in which he is described in Matthew, Mark, and Luke’s gospels. I wondered whether we could consider this rich man to be one of our Faces of Faith. I think the answer is “yes,” because we are all like him. We all come to God, seeking life. And Jesus looks intently at us, and loves us, and sees that one thing that is getting in the way of our following Jesus.  What is that one thing for you? Is it wealth and possessions? Is it worry? Is it extreme busyness? Is it fear? Insecurity? Anger or hurt you can’t let go of? We are all this rich man, because if it isn’t money, it is something else we are clinging to that keeps us from giving ourselves completely to following Jesus. Sometimes the faces of faith, our own among them, fail. The good news is that Jesus keeps looking right into our hearts, keeps loving us, and assures us that even though we fail, even though there is no hope that mortals can save themselves, all things are possible with God. Even the wealthy can enter God’s realm. Thanks be to God.

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Job: When the Worst Happens

he book of Job is written for people who find themselves standing in the midst of the storm. It is written for people standing in the storm, and it offers a reassurance—it is not a lack of faith that brought you to this place. “Why” is one of the universal human utterances and suffering is one of the universal human experiences. All of us, in our own way, have stood in Job’s shoes. Which means all of us, in our own way, know just how much we need to stand before this table, in the presence of the One who takes sorrow and turns it into salvation, the One who takes pain and turns it into promise, the One who takes death and turns it into life.

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Little Children: Our Sacred Responsibility

Jesus says, “Let them come to me. Because the kingdom of God, it belongs to them. Robin Maas has studied Jesus’ reaction to children as much or more than anyone else. She says she can find no other place in scripture where the kingdom of heaven is said to belong to anyone, except right here. Yes, in many places scripture says we belong to God, that by God’s grace we belong in the kingdom of heaven, but it is only to children that the kingdom of heaven belongs. She believes this is because children understand God in a way the rest of us do not. It is to them that the kingdom of heaven belongs. So, keep your promises. Come alongside them. Remember that they are not the church in the future, they are the church right now. Give thanks for them and get close enough to look them in the eyes.  If you do, maybe, just maybe, you’ll see something of the face of God.

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James: Watch Your Mouth!

Our words are a manifestation of our inner selves and our true disposition. Or, to put it another way—our speech reveals who we really are. Racism and homophobia and Islamaphobia, sexism and self-doubt, fear of the borders, fear of our neighbors—all of this is learned behavior. And the language we use to talk about these things is learned, too. I imagine that’s why James warns that not very many of us ought to be teachers. Whether we welcome it or not, whether we even realize it or not, words wield an incredible amount of power. They shape us, and they shape the world around us. The only words worth saying are the words that point toward love. I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like the gospel to me.

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Lady Wisdom: Identity in a Time of Crisis

What Proverbs and Lady Wisdom herself want so desperately for us is for ours to be a life so well lived, so thoroughly considered, so intentionally faithful, that no matter what the circumstances around us, we can hold tight to God’s ultimate promise, God’s ultimate claim on our lives.

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