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Faith Series, Part 1: Meaning of Commitment

Inky Johnson says that “Commitment is staying true to what you said you would do long after the mood that you said it in has left.” That quote by the great Inky Johnson (please look up his incredible story) captures the essence of Faith and Faithfulness.

I would add that faith is a verb, an action word and not a noun. Faith and faithfulness is not what one says but what one does, especially when circumstances are at crisis levels.

It is easy to have faith and to be faithful when things are going well, but faith is best seen when things are not going well in one’s life. Faithfulness to the God of the biblical narrative is always best shown in the midst of disagreements, dysfunction and despair. These are instances that test a person’s commitment to what one said they believed about God.

Perhaps one of the best biblical examples of faith and faithfulness comes from the Old Testament episode of the Hebrew boys and the fiery furnace, in the book of Daniel, chapter three.

The story is that of three Hebrew boys, who along with hundreds to thousands of other Hebrews, had been kidnapped from their homeland of Jerusalem and taken into bondage in the nation of Babylon to be enslaved. Their city had been demolished by the military of Babylon under the rulership of King Nebuchadnezzar. Their King and members of his administration had been brutally murdered and the temple they worshiped in and which they believed God inhabited had been destroyed.

All these tragic and traumatic circumstances were enough to make anyone lose faith and faithfulness to God.

However, in chapter three King Nebuchadnezzar has a statue of gold erected and orders that everyone in his empire must worship the statue of gold. The story tells us it is revealed to the King that the Hebrew boys refuse to worship the idol of gold. He then orders the Hebrew boys be brought before him to be threatened by him to either worship his statute or be thrown into a furnace to be incinerated.

The boys’ response is the point of this article, an example of faith and faithfulness to God as a verb.

They respond by saying “we have no need to present a defense to you in this matter. Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire and out of your hand…But even if God does not deliver us be it known to you that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden statue that you have set up.” I once preached a sermon from this very text and called it “An Even If He Don’t Kind of Faith.”

The point of faith and faithfulness is that faith is first of all a risk. In fact, the late Dr. Mack King Carter, Pastor Emeritus of the New Mount Olive Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida once said, “Risk is the flip side of the word Faith.”

Faith is taking a risk on God. Faith and faithfulness is not knowing for sure how God will intercede in one’s affairs but being faithful anyway. Faith and faithfulness is being committed despite having no tangible assurance things will turn out the way you want them to turn out.

Recalling the Hebrew boys’ words “Even if He does not deliver us,” reveals they did not know if God would, but that it did not matter to them and that their faithfulness was worth the risk.

Faith is also resistance. Resisting those things that negate life. Resisting mindsets that value things over people. Resisting principles that are ungodly that put profit over people, and resisting the cultural trends that value convenience over commitment. Faith is resisting following irreverent dogmas, unrealistic doctrines and irrelevant routines that value some people as more holy, more precious and more important than others.

Finally, faith and faithfulness to God not only reflects a risk, and not only reveals a spirit of resistance against anything and anybody that tries to negate the values of all life, but ultimately faith and faithfulness is a revelation of authentic relationship with the Holy one.

Faith and faithfulness is a revelation that a person truly believes there is a power above human domination power. It is a revelation that a person sincerely trusts in the justice of God for those who are voiceless and powerless. Faith and faithfulness to God is a revelation that while one’s physical context and circumstances may be presently inhibited and or limited, that one’s soul, one’s mind and one’s spirit are free to glimpse the providential plan of God that is healing, affirming, uplifting and fortifying and which always leads eventually to the liberation not only of oneself but the liberation of others as well who are experiencing some form of subjugation.

As Inky Johnson put it, “Commitment is staying true to what you said you would do long after the mood that you said it in has left.” More on faith next week, but always remember that faith is a fight!

Knowing The Truth - Part I
Rev. John E. Jackson

Rev. Dr. John E. Jackson, Sr. is the Senior Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ-Gary, 1276 W. 20th Ave. in Gary. “We are not just another church but we are a culturally conscious, Christ-centered church, committed to the community; we are unashamedly Black and unapologetically Christian.”

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