“For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith.” ~Romans 1:16a (NRSV).
The key test of obedience is our response when all doors—desirable or preferred—close, leaving no option but to go the way we’ve avoided all along.
Accepting God’s last Word on the matter of relevance before us right now—or on any matter of relevance—is first a decision, then, upon commitment, a process of both acting on and continually revising and reaffirming our decision.
What Can Only Be Practiced
This is where faith’s rubber hits the road.
It’s easy to live faithfully before trials occur. During the realisation of a negatively answered prayer, via the circumstances of our lives, however, we understand the task before us.
It takes a good portion of moral courage to accept things we don’t want to accept, and to move on anyway. This can only be practiced. Until then, we can promise all we like; until we have met the test and decided to go God’s way and not our own we can’t know the value of sacrifice over compromise, or the folly of compromise over sacrifice.
This is how we can know that faith is a deeply action-oriented concept.
Proof or Not That We Are Unashamed of the Gospel
Most of the time the Apostle Paul’s abovementioned verse is taken in an evangelistic setting—that we ought not to be ashamed of proclaiming the gospel of salvation.
Not only that, however, it proclaims more.
Can it be that this verse also refers to the power in faith to reconcile salvation by obedience? If we read on into verse 17 we can make that deduction.
When we “live by faith” we are essentially agreeing with the will of God, as it is truthfully discerned by us, and committing to whatever is required of us. In this, we are not ashamed. In this, we prove our commitment to God, and our faith.
Of all the prayers we send God’s way we have to accept those answered in the negative. The Lord is never in the practice of granting all our wishes. We prove we are unashamed of the gospel when we accept God’s last Word.
Perhaps the key to our level of spiritual maturity is this: how we respond when God says “no.” In this we demonstrate humility. In rejecting the Word of the Lord we reject the Christian way. According to our belief we must accept that Word.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.