One of the highlights of my life was definitely the trip I took to Israel when I turned 30. I have a friend who is a Catholic priest who invited me. So of course I said yes.
I have to say that seeing the Holy Land with a priest was amazing. Because the Catholic Church runs nearly every holy site over there, from the school where they first discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls (which is where we stayed!) to the Garden of Gethsemane to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which is where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.
Over and over, we’d enter a place and Thomas (my priest buddy) would walk over to the monks on shift. He’d show them his secret ID card or do the handshake or whatever he did and when they realized he was a priest, they’d wave us over to some secret, employees only entrance or give us some private tour.
I can’t overemphasize that this happened again and again.
It was amazing, and really made what was already a unique experience truly once-in-a-lifetime.
And it had nothing to do with me. At all.
I was eating breakfast one morning with all the priests who worked at the school of archaeology where we stayed (again, not something that I could do if I went there tomorrow). They squinted at me and said, “What kind of Protestant are you?”
Uh… I’m a Nazarene.
None of them had heard of one of those.
We came from Methodism, I explained. Our denomination was founded about 100 years ago.
These priests, whose denomination was founded by Saint Peter as in Simon Peter as in Jesus’ good buddy sort of stared at me. Finally, one of them said, “Huh.”
Yeah. I was not impressive.
But that’s the thing. I didn’t need to be. Because I was there with Thomas. He was the one with all the connections, all the pull. So I just had to… go along. Enjoy the ride.
I share that story because this is incredibly similar to what we’re going to see in our text today. The work of Faith is not primarily a work that rests on our shoulders. It’s not about our power, ability, fame or longevity. It has very little to do with how we’re feeling or the state of our emotions.
It has everything to do with who we’re following. The work of faith begins and ends with Jesus.