Romans 10:5-15 (NRSV)
5 Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that "the person who does these things will live by them." 6 But the righteousness that comes from faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 "or 'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? "The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11 The scripture says, "No one who believes in him will be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13 For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved." 14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
Every year thousands of tourists travel to Austria and the Alps. Some of the tourists climb Kapuzinerberg overlooking Salzburg. The inspirational part of the hike is the opportunity to see and pray at the different chapels or Stations of the Cross along the way.
The story is told that one tourist made the climb and finally came to the outdoor crucifix. After gazing upon Jesus hanging in agony on the cross, the tourist noticed a trail leading into the woods. After following the trail and working through the thick undergrowth, the tourist eventually came upon a shrine of the empty tomb. It seemed neglected and seldom visited. Almost everyone, it seems, went to the cross but failed to make the journey to the empty tomb.
I have no way of knowing whether the story is true or not but it does bring up an important point, too many followers of Christ follow Him to the cross but never make the journey to the empty tomb. Jesus was more than a good man who lived a couple of thousand years ago, who told great stories, helped people in need, and then died on a cross. The Apostle Paul reminds us to ". . . believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead" (Romans 10:9) Believing in our heart is part of our faith journey.
Leonard Sweet in his book, I am a Follower, reminded me this week that too often we get enamored with the Bible and its stories about Jesus without allowing the scriptures to penetrate our hearts and bring us to Jesus' feet. Sweet writes:
We will always fail to find the way if we just read the Bible without letting it read us. But we discover ourselves walking in the way when we let the Word of God seep into our bones and saturate our way of living. Our way becomes one with the Way.
The Bible teaches us to walk in the Spirit-which means by faith, not by sight; by internal purity, not external obedience.
And yes, there are some rules, but even these appear more as relationships: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). And the majority of what we often interpret as rules are really cultural laws, not biblical spirituality.
The point being that it is not our job to chastise the world for its lack of faith or not following the rules. The world cannot be manipulated or scolded into coming to its senses. It is our task as people of faith to be faithful, to live as though we belong to God who will never let the world go or abandon us. God is faithful. May we be faithful. Think about it.