Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
“It Works by Faith”
I want to start with a funny story. I heard about this little girl. She asked her mother how the human race got started. Her mother explained how God created Adam and Eve. They had children, and so on and so on. Finally, here we are today. A few days later, she asked her father the same question. He explained how many years ago, there were monkeys. And little by little, they became more like people. Now here we are. With confusion, she went back to her mother and said, “Mom, you said that God created people, but daddy said, we came from monkeys. I am confused about how that can be.” Her mother said, “Oh, honey, that’s easy. I told you about my side of the family, and daddy told you about his.”
I want to talk about how “it works by faith.” You might hear “what you believe leads your life” or “what you thought leads your life.” Pastor Joel Osteen (Lakewood Church in Huston, Texas) said, “What you will receive is directly connected to how you believe and what you expect. If you want God to do the extraordinary, then you must start believing in Him for bigger things” (Your Best Life Now, p. 22). Actually, Jesus’ ministry focused on “faith.” In his healing ministry, when he healed the sick, he used to say, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:50), or “Your faith has made you well” (Mark 5:34; Luke 17:19; Matthew 9:22).
Remember, Jesus didn’t say, ‘my power heals you,’ or ‘my authority heals you.’ Instead, he said, “Your faith has healed you.” Jesus is indeed the only Son of God. But, you cannot find it anyplace in the Bible that Jesus healed the sick because he is the only Son of God. The important thing is that whatever you believe, it leads to your future. Without faith, it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to God must believe that God exists and God rewards those who earnestly seek God (Hebrews 11:6). I cited the Letter of Hebrews several times for “faith:” I cite it again. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). In other words, faith is what you hope for in conviction even though it cannot be seen. Faith is like the women’s conviction, which was “if I touch his robe, I will be made well.” And then, she was healed as she touched Jesus’ robe. Faith is like Jairus’ trust in Jesus. When he heard that his daughter was already dead, he was not afraid of her death but only trusted in Jesus. Faith is like Abraham’s decision, which is when he was called to go to a place that he would later receive as his inheritance, he obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
Today’s scripture gives us a great example of how our faith, thoughts, and prejudice lead us. After Jesus healed Jairus’ daughter, he went back to his hometown with his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue. Many people who heard him were astounded. And then, they were curious, ‘where did this man get all this?’ ‘What is this wisdom that has been given to him?’ ‘What deeds of power are being done by his hands?’ The people in the synagogue had heard many lessons or sermons from Jewish teachers. However, they noticed that Jesus’ teaching was something different from the other teachers. And then, they were curious about Jesus. They began remembering about him from his childhood. They had a prejudice about Jesus. In their prejudice, Jesus was the boy of a single mother, Mary, because they knew Mary had conceived before she married Joseph: Jesus was a poor carpenter: Jesus was uneducated. They knew Jesus’ family members and siblings well. Finally, they took offense at him. Their prejudice led them to reject Jesus. Their prejudice led them not to trust in him at all. Remember, faith is simply to believe what you hope for without any bias.
Please pay attention to verse 5. It says, “He could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them.” The other version of the Bible says, “He could not do any miracles there…” (NIV). Do you think that Jesus really had no power to do any miracles or to heal the sick there? People sometimes misunderstood what Jesus talked about “the prophet was not honored in the hometown.” I wonder if the prophet/hero is literally dishonored in his hometown. In Korean culture, they are very proud of their hometown. I remember that when my younger brother went to a university, and when he got his Ph.D. degree, there was a banner hanging at the entrance of the town: “Congratulations to the son who is proud of our town.” I think the American culture is not much different. We celebrate our hometown’s graduates and prospective students of college/university by having a big party. If there are any successful people or any celebrities in our hometown, we might be proud of our hometown because of them.
If it is so, we wonder why Jesus said, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” It is because they might have prejudice with what they knew. Therefore, we must open minds and open hearts. If you blocked your mind and hearts with any bias, God also could not work for you. The way we open our minds and hearts to others is the way we open our minds and hearts to God. The reason Jesus taught us the new commandments of “love of God and love of neighbors” is that to love God is to love your neighbors. If you don’t love your neighbors, you might question if you really love God. If you cannot open your mind to your neighbors, you might wonder if you open your mind to God. Be careful what kind of mindset you have because your mindset might lead your life. If you have a positive mindset, it will positively lead you; if you have a negative mindset, it will lead you in a negative way. Remember, it works by your faith. If anyone believes in Jesus as a teacher or a prophet, he will be a teacher or a prophet in his/her life. If anyone believes in Jesus as his/her savior, s/he is saved by faith in Jesus Christ through the grace of God. The Gospel of John tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (John 3:16).
What do you want your children/grandchildren to be? Build them up and say positive things to them whenever you see them. Also, I encourage you to think of our church in a positive way. Our church will move forward as we believe. Live boldly and act on your most powerful faith because it works by faith. Thanks be to God. Amen!