Lesson 7: Faith – Story and Promise

Let me say more about story and promise. It can be said that the Bible contains God’s story. We are not talking about theological statements, laws or even history. As the Augsburg Confession XX says, faith is not merely knowledge of historical events, even Satan knows these, but a confidence in God and the fulfillment of his promises. To read God’s story in biblical history is to respond in faith to the events.
The setting, to paraphrase Eugene O’Neill, portrays humans doing something they do not want to do, finding they do this more and more, until they become people they do not want to be. The story describes them turning what is good into evil.

The plot presents a gracious God acting in love to heal. This includes all the items on Cordie’s list last week: caring, forgiving, helping, comforting, but primarily turning evil into good. A crisis occurs when humans go as far as they can go. They kill God. But God refuses to stop loving. On Easter he turns human evil into good once more.

To have faith is to be overwhelmed by the beauty of this story. It is to trust its promise that God will be with us always and that love and justice are now and will be in the end. Confidence in these promises leads to repentance. We are changed so we want to tackle Cordie’s second list that calls for going beyond ourselves to love God and other people and to accept God’s will. And, of course, that is to participate in changing evil into good.

It seems to me if we would have faith in this story and its promises, the Church would be much healthier. At least most of the Christianity that has distressed me presents ugliness, hatred, and violence rather than beauty, love, and peace.

It also might calm most of the upheaval over Rob Bell’s questioning hell. Many believe without hell, we have no basis for moral choice. The story I have outlined is not based on frightening people with evil or threatening them into moral action. It is based completely on the beauty of love that makes evil good. It is about being overwhelmed when hearing God proclaim, “I love you all.”

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