Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith our ancestors received approval. By faith, we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible. By faith, Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain’s. Through this he received approval as righteous, God himself giving approval to his gifts; he died, but through his faith, he still speaks. By faith Enoch was taken so that he did not experience death; and “he was not found because God had taken him.” For it was attested before he was taken away that “he had pleased God.” And without faith, it is impossible to please God, for whoever would approach him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. By faith Noah, warned by God about events as yet unseen, respected the warning and built an ark to save his household; by this, he condemned the world and became an heir to the righteousness that is in accordance with faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. By faith, he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith, he received the power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance, they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had an opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them. [NRSV]
A Better Country
- What kind of country will our nation have become in forty years? 4 years? 4 months?
- Are you optimistic or pessimistic about what will be?
- What kind of church will our congregation be in forty years? 4 years? 4 months?
- Are you hopeful or filled with doubts?
- What will your faith look like in forty years, four years? four months?
- Are you empowered or searching?
A Better Country
We have so entwined religion and politics that we have become polarized and paralyzed in our misappropriated patriotism. It is not a matter of separating church and state conversations, it is about using the freedoms our nation has to most fully express and experience of faith in Jesus Christ. Our freedoms allow for many faiths, but we place our trust in a better country. W
If we were as preoccupied with living as citizen of heaven as we are citizen of the USA, what would it look like??
- Facebook would be filled with words, pictures, and messages about our faith and church
- Our conversations would be about news and report of where we see God at work in the world. We would be trying to out-do each other in love and service.
- We would stay up at night worrying about how many people we had reached, transformed, and welcomed into the fellowship of the church.
- People would see our commitment to the citizenship we hold highest is in the heart of God.
The OT Case for Building a “more perfect union.”
Creation, Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob, key examples of faith that have shaped the faith we now live. The bottom line of each of these persons witnessed examples of placing themselves and their personal trust in God to lead, protect, save, heal, and bless. The fruit of seeking our ultimate allegiance is in God, is that God uses us to build a better country, a heavenly one.
New Testament Case
In the parable that the lawyer asks Jesus who is my neighbor, we find it is the one who shows grace and loving kindness.
In this faith-history lesson begs the question: What is my home? What is my citizenship? To home and where do I belong?
What is my home? Is it only the building at my address? Is it the sum of my stuff and assets and debts? Is only my family and extended family?
The Call to Live in our Heavenly Citizenship, (On Earth as it is in Heaven)
Is this the story of our nation? Is this the story of our people? Is this the story that bears fruit in our lives?
Call to make disciples:
- Love one another in service, AND
- Inspire others to join the fellowship, AND
- Worship and Fellowship to strengthen another before God.