Faith heroes are few and far between today. Modern media has reported the flaws of leaders and courts have tried them and found them guilty. I suspect we look to some ordinary people in our lives who have lived out faith three dimensionally. James looks to the biblical hero Abraham. As a woman, I have a bit of trouble with this one as Abraham had Sarah lie about her relationship to him and she ended up in the Pharoah’s harem. I just cannot imagine that was a fun experience. Abraham also showed great favor for the son sired by the “maid/baby carrier.” James though looks beyond these human transgressions and into the heart of Abraham. James says that Abraham believed God and it was credited to him. God saw the faith that acted in an impossible situation, an old wife, and produced a son, Issac. The “sins,’ mistakes that taught Abraham and defined Abraham’s life, developed a faith in action that God then calls “friendship.” Pretty touching. Abraham hung in there with God and God hung in there with Abraham. Faith and works.
James gives a second example, Rahab, “the prostitute.” Now there is an unexpected hero. James jumps from “the father of the faith”” to an ordinary foreigner, caught in the political chaos of her day as the Israelites sent spies before they entered the Promised Land. She saw the writing on the wall, saw the actions of the God that protected the invaders and made a decision to act, to hide the spies from the king and plead for mercy. Rehab’s family was saved when the walls of Jericho fell. Rehab, the Canaanite prostitute married Salmon the father of Boaz who married Ruth, the Canaanite widow who went to Bethlehem with Naomi. Boaz who was the product of Rehab’s faith story of acting in the face of social pressure, had compassion and reached out to Ruth, the foreigner who acted in faith and followed Naomi against all odds.
Faith and works are not about wealth and power like Abraham but is something ordinary people like Rehab, like you and I can believe and live by. We do not know who is watching when trials come and we make decisions but we do know God is watching and he is faithful. How wonderful to be called “friend of God” even with all the “oops” in our lives. Thank you Lord.