Friday, November 10, 2017

Here I Stand

Today, 10th November is observed in our Andhra Evangelical Lutheran Church (AELC) in India as "Pastors Day", commemorating the birth anniversary of Martin Luther, who initiated Reformation 500 years ago. Our Church ordains new ministers on this day, and it was 14 years ago i was ordained on this day. It is at this time, I introspect my calling, and reflect how important it is to stand in the faith of Jesus Christ, stand firm and act on it. 

If you do not stand firm in faith, you shall not stand at all.” Isaiah 7: 9b. The context of this statement from the book of Proto-Isaiah was the Syro-Ephramite war, where there was a political impasse in the kingdom of Judah. The oracle conveyed to the king Ahaz has recurring effects on today’s readers of this text as much as it had then.

For Martin Luther, Sola Fide (faith alone) is a hermeneutic in unlocking ‘justification,’ for his context then was dominated by the rule of Sola Roma (Rome alone). In this verse above, there are three important facets of faith, firstly the grounding of faith, which is in its ‘standing,’ secondly the binding of faith, which is in its ‘firmness’ and thirdly the longing of faith, which is ‘fullness of life.’ With the epoch of secularization, most societies today define themselves as post-secular for there has been a decline on the public role of faith in our public spheres. However, today’s text reminds us faith is neither privatized category nor enlightenment has taken over the realm of faith, but being firm in our faith has its relevance in our society. For it is our faith in a revolutionary Jesus Christ that inspires us to partake in the transformation of our society, for such a faith compels us to translate faith into praxis and roots us firmly in life and life giving mission. It is "Here I stand on the faith of Jesus Christ."

Allow me to quote what Luther said on this occasion. In his reply at Diet of Worms in 1521, he said Since your majesty and your lordships desire a simple reply, I will answer without horns and teeth. Unless I am convicted by the Scripture and plain reason--I do not accept the authority of the Popes and the Councils for they had contradicted each other--my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen."

Prayer: God, the origin and the beginning of faith, help us to stand firm in our faith in Jesus and challenge us to transform our faith into actions so that we can become the channels of life in situations of lifelessness and death. May we stand firm in our faith, so that we can stand firm in our life. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

Thought for further Reflection: How can you translate your faith into actions? Has your faith has a public relevance in the context of post-secular societies?

(Written for Fresh from the Word: Bible for a Change, IBRA 2017 Devotions)