“A Beautiful Faith”
Psalm 124; Matthew 16: 1-20
Focus: Faith that is both professed and enacted is a beautiful thing.
Function: Realizing that the faith that we have is a gift of God and meant to be professed and then put into action.
Recall some years ago the movie “A Beautiful Mind” which was based on a true story about a professor at Princeton University who had an extraordinary mathematical mind. While he suffered from schizophrenia he persevered and with some assistance from others, especially his wife, he was able to teach and to become a part of that elite academic institution.
- This came to me as I thought about Peter’s profession of faith when Jesus asked him and the disciples the question, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter blurted, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God (16:16).” Jesus responded with delight and even awe: “Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven” (16:17).
- This was “a beautiful faith.” Jesus so much as said so. By his reaction you see that he recognized the hand of the God.
- Faith is a gift of God.
- The fact that any of you have faith in Jesus Christ is a reason for pause.
- You have many gifts from God. But this important aspect of your life is one of God’s greatest gifts to you.
- Some of you have possessed this gift of faith most of your life.
- Some of you have only recently come to faith or recently returned to faith in Jesus Christ.
- It is a marvelous gift of God to you. Revel in it for a moment. You are touched by the hand of God. You believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of the living God. It is not your own doing; it is the gift of God to you.
- If Jesus held it in awe, so should we appreciate the beauty of living faith.
- In a couple of weeks we will begin a sequel to last year’s The Story. The three congregations of Fallston Presbyterian, Chestnut Grove Presbyterian, and Highland Presbyterian will have another common year of partnership and study around the theme “Living the Story, Sharing the Story.” The first segment will be on The Gospel. Toward the end of the month we will have a luncheon and round table discussions on “Why am I a Christian;” “Why do I believe in Jesus Christ?” Begin to reflect on those questions.
Jesus responded to a beautiful faith when he saw it. He made a great deal of Peter’s profession.
- He announced that day that “the church” would be built upon this confession that he is the Messiah, the Son of God.
- Is there something to learn from that? Is “faith” the highest and most valued aspect of the church down through the ages?
- The confession that Jesus is the Messiah is the foundation of the church universal. What does that say about faith?
- Does the church value “faith” above all? Or does it sometimes put its confidence in other things? Maybe it attaches faith to other things.
- Faith can be attached to money.
- Faith can be attached to nation.
- Faith can be attached to certain personalities.
- Faith can be attached to all kinds of idols.
- Faith should be in none other than Jesus Christ with no other attachments or dilutions. Your trust, and the trust of the church should be in no other name under the sun than in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).
- The church is founded upon a belief. It is founded upon a principal. That is the genius of its strength. That is the essence of its beauty. That beauty is appreciated most by none other than Jesus Christ.
After admiring Peter’s God-given faith, Jesus wasted no time in declaring that this faith should be acted out. Faith is profession which leads to action. This makes it even more beautiful. It makes a difference. It can be seen through the lives and actions of God’s people.
- The community and the world around you needs to see your living faith in Jesus Christ more than ever.
- Christ’s message of love and not hate is needed more than ever.
- Christ’s ethic of inclusion of neighbor is needed today.
- Jesus’ ethic of selflessness and humility as opposed to self-centered, me-first messages is needed more than ever.
- This message is professed by word of mouth and enacted in lives.
- Are you who you think that you are?
- Some years ago the now deceased head coach of the Arizona Cardinals (Dennis Green) was speaking to the media after a loss to the Chicago Bears. In the fourth quarter the Cardinals were ahead 23-3. Somehow the Bears mounted a comeback and won the game. Green was angry at losing and shouted to the media, “They were who we thought they were; and we let ‘em off the hook!”
- Are you who you think that you are?
- Are you who you profess to be?
A beautiful faith is a faith from God that is both professed and enacted in your life.
The true beauty of the church is that it is built upon a solid foundation of faith in Jesus Christ.
- No other foundation will suffice.
- “…There is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
Blessed are you for your faith…flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but the Father in heaven!
- Enjoy the blessing!
- But then act upon that living faith in Jesus Christ.
Be who you think that you are!