Faith Includes Action

Luke 8:43-48; Mark 5:25-34

The woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years believed that touching Jesus' garment would bring her healing.  And it turned out that she had been correct in that belief.  But the power would not have left Him, and she would not have been healed, unless she had acted.  She had to reach out.  She had to risk.  She had to take a chance that He would be angry at her, that He would reject her as unclean (as, under the law she most certainly was).  She had to take a chance that it wasn't as simple as touching His clothes.  She had to take a chance that He would withhold His healing power to this anonymous, powerless, likely-rejected woman.

Everyone has burdens they carry, struggles that define how they carry themselves, how they see themselves.  And most people have at least vague ideas about the way they'd like things to be.  Faith healers will remind us that God is all-powerful, and insist that all we have to do is the equivalent of this woman's reaching out to touch Jesus' clothes.  The cynical among us tend to reject completely the healers' claims, reminding others and ourselves that God is not a vending machine, a mechanized slave that obeys our every request.  God is not tame, and owes no one anything, we are quick to insist.

So the life of faith is not as simplistic, God is not as easily manipulated, as the faith healers insist.  But neither are miracles, the chance of true, personal guidance and healing from the Almighty, impossible.  To claim that miracles are impossible is to sketch a caricature of God on another end of the spectrum, that of a distant, uncaring, or impotent deity.

Instead, the life of faith is that of co-creation.  We do well to remember how much God loves us, how active and involved He is, how He is always at work around us.  He is all-powerful.  He does love us.  He does do miracles.  But the tension comes as we work to hold that truth together with the truth that we can't control Him.  We don't know what He has planned, can't see what He sees.  As we devote ourselves to bringing Him the greatest glory (as is perfectly appropriate to us), we don't know whether our healing, our comfort, or our success will do that, or whether our failure, discomfort, or brokenness will do that.

So that's the tension.  We can't guarantee miracles.  But if we choose not to act, not to stretch out our hands, we can practically guarantee that God will not respond to us with miraculous power.  Take the risk of action based on that unprovable thing you believe is true.  When He opens the door, walk out of Egypt.  Walk to the sea, to see what He will do.  Reach out your hand to touch the tiniest fringe of His clothes.  Because you won't find out all that He will work together with you to accomplish until you do.

And there's a bonus: your action may allow others (like Jairus to the woman with the hemorrhage) to see what God can do, and give them the extra push they need to also act, to also grow in their relationship with the One who already loves them more than anyone else.