Print Version June 26th, 2003
I love the Abram stories of the Hebrew bible because they are so raw. This is God’s chosen people long before they have learned what it means to be chosen or who exactly has done the choosing. We get a chance to see all that learning in action as Abram and Sarai get up to all sorts of atrocious acts as they stumble about on their long journey—bigamy and ill-treatment are some of their lesser issues! One of Abram’s favourite tricks is passing of his wife as his sister and offering her favours to whatever local king might do him a good turn. Charming!
But slowly the chosen people do learn who their God is. What do they learn? I reckon the chief insight of Abrahamic faith is this: what you do matters. They don’t learn it quickly. They don’t learn it well. But by twists and turns they do discover that faith in God is an ethical issue. What you do matters.
In another vein Jesus makes the same point: it isn’t words that mark your participation in the kingdom but deeds; you can call God by your own choice of endearment but, unless you actually listen and respond to what God is saying, words are worthless.
Knowledge never saves us, the truth rarely sets us free: relationship with God is what we need. Relationship which we act upon.
For example, we all know that we are loved by God, liked even, beloved. But unless we follow that through in what we do, it might as well be a lie. It is what we do that matters.
Sometimes doing outranks believing altogether. Edna is always reminding me ‘sometimes you have to fake it to make it’. When the belief in God’s love is getting very shaky we can still get by by acting as if we believed it even when we don’t. And when our bodies are doing the right thing our hearts and minds get the chance to follow. What we do matters.