1. Christian faithfulness is God’s own faithfulness, shared with us by the Spirit who is present in and among and for us.
We are sharing in God’s own faithfulness to God. The Father was Faithful to the Son, despite the Son’s exile to the abyss among the god-forsaken. The same Spirit that raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead is the Spirit that shows us the faithfulness of God. This Spirit has spoken through the prophets and testified to the Father’s faithful love time an again.
The most perfect human was left hanging, and just in case you think that he went straight to heaven for his righteousness, he didn’t. The bible says he descended, and this is commonly taken to mean that he descended to hell.
(Ephesians 4.8-10)\ Faithfulness means being able to trust God when He leaves you hanging.\
The authors of the bible emphasize this when they talk about the crucifixion. Mark says that Jesus prays, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”
Jesus had known this God, prayed to Him, lived with Him His entire life, and suddenly, his assurance was gone. I think Jesus had a real moment of anguish, and questioning. I think he was surprised at the isolation he felt all of a sudden. Yet, he persisted to the end, and entrusted his Spirit to the Father. He had prophesied he would be raised up again, and he trusted this, He trusted the Father’s faithfulness to raise Him up. Unlike Abraham, this time, He would have to entrust Himself fully to God through death into new life.
Abraham trusted God, and Soren Kierkegaard says that what is extraordinary is that Abraham trusted God to raise His son, no matter what. I think Jesus trusted The Father with a similar faithfulness.
2. Christian faithfulness is born in obedience, in the decision for Christ and his interpretation of reality.
Grace is not cheap. Faith and faithfulness have to go together. Faith without faithfulness is non-existent. It’s dead. (James 2.26)
We will not be able to be faithful until we’re ready to obey, and recognize that the gospel puts a burden on us. Yet in and through the recognition of God’s own faithfulness, this burden becomes easy, and the commandment to love one another becomes easy.
Good work is something that God has created us for, and prepared us for. His saving plan includes doing good work. (Ephesians 2.10)
3. Christian faithfulness contradicts the world’s faithfulness.
Christian faithfulness is about knowing and being known by God. Just as Christian love isn’t an emotion, it’s a type of relationship. Love is knowing and being know, and sharing in the relationship this knowing creates.
Christian faithfulness first must recognize God’s own faithfulness to Jesus, who died a sinner’s death, the death of a condemned criminal. Yet, God vindicated Him, and He ascended on High. What the world thinks faithfulness is, is often contrary to the call of following Jesus. Here are some examples.
Euthanasia- Being faithful to our bodies, and our elders and our suffering and sick
Abortion- Being faithful to the process of life, and our own created nature as fruitful creatures
Marriage- Being faithful to One, just as God is faithful to his one people, from Abraham, to Jesus, to new creation
4. Christian faithfulness is an exercise in hope, confidence in God’s faithfulness and the certainty of God’s future.
We know that the world is going to be transformed and redeemed, we can be faithful because God has made it so by being faithful to us first. He has shown us His desire to redeem the whole creation, and has made his place among the God-forsaken so that even the most godless aspects of reality might attain redemption.
We are certain of one thing, and one thing alone, that because this God raised Jesu from the dead, he has proven his love not only for Jesus, but for us. He has shared this love with us in the Spirit who raised Christ, who is the first taste of what God has in mind for us. Because this God raised Jesus, he will raise us too.
We are dealing with a God who will leave you hanging and breathless.
There’s an old story, a wonderful story, from St. Teresa of Avila which you may have heard before, but which I never tire of telling:
The story goes that she was riding in her carriage one day, going from one convent to another, when suddenly she was thrown off, slammed rudely to the ground, and deposited in the middle of a mud puddle. She looked up to the heavens and said, “Lord, why did you do this to me?” And God answered her, “This is how I treat all my friends.” And St. Teresa replied tartly, “Then, Lord, it is not surprising that you have so few.” (Kreeft, Making Sense…, p. 15)
Jesus trusted in the Future he had seen and preached in his ministry, he knew that God’s kingdom was at hand, and endured it, for the JOY set before Him. He desired to see the Father’s will done, even if that meant enduring this temporary uncertainty, and isolation. He knew that the Kingdom of God was peace and righteousness, and that even though He was hanging, His father would prove faithful. Let us hope to be the same.