“Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). This is an extension of yesterday’s reflection on the Word of God. It is a powerful meditation on our faith, where it properly comes from, and what we are to do with it.
Paul asks three important rhetorical questions just before today’s verse: “But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?” (verse 14) With these questions, we are now being taken into the practical realm of our duties in the faith. With these words he has given us some very important things to think about, both in terms of the history of Israel, and about our own times.
The gospel had been sufficiently proclaimed to the people of Israel. They had even adequately understood God’s plan for the messianic age, that it was to be brought to the ends of the earth. He is telling the Romans that they have been given this same awareness, but warns that like Israel, many have not accepted the prophetic message. Then he tells us that unless the message is preached and heard, its beauty and power can not be known. Though it has been professed, many have not received it, or did not “hear” it to the point of heeding it. Paul is encouraging us not just to hear the word but to know it well enough, to love it sufficiently enough, to preach it in ways that our contemporaries can “hear” it and take it to heart.
The word of God is expressed most powerfully by those who have heard it, understood it, and accepted it, through their actions, the ways that they live the saving word of God in their daily lives. We have all heard the aphorism, “Actions speak louder than words.” More often than not, people are drawn to the word of God by the actions of one who believes. One who believes lives the gospel in all that they do. This is what attracts others to hear God’s word. When they see it in action, when they see the beauty of it, when they see the power of forgiveness and mercy, or when they experience the healing hand of another offered in the name of Jesus, this is what makes them want to hear and believe. This, then, is our mission. We who believe, are to live the faith we have been given openly, willingly, and joyfully. When we feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, care for the sick, and visit the imprisoned in Jesus’ name, we are preaching the gospel in ways that the poor, the hungry, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned world can hear it. This is how we preach the word of God best.
Lord, Increase our faith. Help us to live it out with our words and deeds in all of our daily actions, and social encounters. Then, when others ask us why we live this way, give us the words to answer their questions in a manner that they can comprehend, and that are consistent with your word. We pray in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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