When my oldest nephew was born, Bill and I rushed over to the hospital to meet the tiny little addition to the family and to visit my brother and Jen, who were both obviously exhausted. As I held my sleeping nephew, my brother said to me that obviously I inherited all the faith in the family because he just didn’t know what to believe. And I remember thinking to myself, that faith is not an inherited trait like my hair that is straight as a pin, or my flat feet and weak ankles. Those are inherited traits. But everyone is given access to God whenever they want. We just need to know how to access God and where we can find him.
I think this is where many people struggle when it comes to building up a trusting enduring faith. They think that because they have doubts, or are unsure, or have had times of disbelief then they don’t have access. They think that it is something that either you have or you don’t have, like an all or nothing thing. Luckily for those people and all of us, faith doesn’t work that way. Our God does not have an all or nothing clause worked into the faith contract.
Today we heard a lot about covenants and about how it was promised through Jeremiah that God would create a new covenant that would be written on the hearts of humanity. What that means is that there would be an unconditional love and forgiveness between God and humanity and that there would be an inward motivation and power to live into God’s work.
I think that for many people in today’s modern society, we have lost sight of this new covenant and the knowledge that because of that new covenant we can access God anywhere, anytime, in our own hearts. We don’t have to perform special prayers, rites, or be members of a special community. We just need to search for God within and live good caring lives on the outside. Faith and trust in God doesn’t come in a vacuum; it doesn’t come from nowhere. It isn’t passed down from generation to generation like brown eyes or the way we hold ourselves or how we walk. It is something we each have to discover for ourselves.
Faith is nothing more than a relationship we work to maintain with God. We all have been gifted with the presence of God written upon our hearts but it takes each of us intentional work to maintain focus upon that, to seek it in our lives, and to allow for it to guide our actions. Those of us who have worked on our faiths, those of us who perhaps have an easier time accessing God and connecting, it is up to us to help others in the world to do the same and to at least live into the lives that God is guiding them to live.
This is crucial for us as Christians. This does not mean that we need to go around asking people if they have been saved. This does not mean we need to smack people over the head with the Gospel. In my experience, we do more good, we spread more of the message of God by sharing our experiences, and living into God’s work inviting people to join with us as we do. John MacArthur, a 21st century theologian, pastor, and writer, points out, “You are the only Bible some unbelievers will ever read”. So it is up to us to share what has been written on our hearts, to touch the lives of others, and to help others lay the foundations of discovering that God has written the same saving message upon their hearts as well, a message that offers comfort, wholeness, guidance, love, and inspiration throughout our life.
This was a message that the early Christians felt very strongly as Paul openly shared that message with a sometimes hostile group of people and it was one that he encouraged his disciple Timothy to share as well. We too are being called to share with others what we have been gifted, what we have come to know as truth, and the love and care that the message of God has instilled in us. We are being called like Timothy was to live our lives committed to the message of God, committed to the care of God’s people.
Remember what we are told in the passages of Jeremiah, God told Jeremiah “ I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more”. God’s law, God’s presence has been placed upon our hearts and the hearts of all people. Let us help each other to see the love of God in life and experience the presence of God in the actions we take in life, in the words that we share, and in the community that we offer to each person. This is how we share the good news of the new covenant that was promised in the words of Jeremiah, brought to fruition in the life and resurrection of Christ, and is alive today in you and me. Go out and make your days a living example to the world that God is still here, God is good, and God offers to love all peoples.
 John MacArthur, 21st century theologian.
 Jeremiah 31: 33-34, NRSV.
(Jeremiah 31: 27-34 and 2 Timothy 3: 14-4: 5)