2 Peter 1:4: “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

One day in 1749, while walking to the Bastille, Jean-Jacques Rousseau noticed an advertisement for an essay contest. Hosted by the Academy of Dijon, the essay posed a simple question: has science made us better or worse, more or less moral?  As Rousseau recalls, he fell asleep in the park, had a vision, awoke in tears, and started to write his “Discourse on the Sciences and Arts”. He ended up winning the contest and instantly rose to fame. His basic thesis: “Man is naturally good.”

While Romantic philosophy assumes the innate goodness of men, a believer is acutely aware of men’s leaning toward bad. The apostle Peter puts it quite bluntly:

“(…) having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires”

Evil desires are inside of us. Nobody put them there. There are ours to deal with. Technically, every person is like a ticking time bomb that can go off and self-destruct at any moment. Our psyches are frail. Given the circumstances, we all can be broken very easily. Besides our psyches, also our bodies are subjected to corruption – the aging process being a visible reminder.

Steven Austad, a bio-gerontologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham delved into the question: Why do we age? Here is his explanation:

“Reproduction is the name of the game. Basically, we age because it’s not in nature’s best interest to perfectly repair our bodies. The main thing is to keep us reproductive as long as possible, and then let our bodies deteriorate.”

In other words, ultimately we are here to be replaced – a pretty sobering thought. Of course we all know that no human being can actually be reproduced. Our DNA is unique. Each person is as irreplaceable as they come.

The word “gospel” is an old English combination of the words “God” and “spel”, which in modern English translates into news, a story. The news that God exists is the heart of the gospel and that is very good news. The gospel ventures beyond biology: There is a God who created matter out of nothing and this same God is the reason why we exist. By acknowledging Him, faith infinitely increases the value of human life. As a creature of God, we are no accident. We all matter.

Recognizing who God is, we will move past corruption. As we grow closer to Him, we essentially find out that God is a team of three. It is a delight to get to know the Son of God. The Spirit of God is tirelessly introducing Jesus to every generation. And the Father of all is our soul’s destiny and home. By getting to know God we escape corruption and engage in eternal life. We become an integral part of His family. Faith is precious because we are no longer slaves to corruption, but we are set free to participate in God’s divine nature.

The incorruptible, inconceivable, beautiful and generous nature of God wants to include us because He dearly loves us.

“You dance over me
While I am unaware
You sing all around
But I never hear the sound
Lord, I’m amazed by You
Lord, I’m amazed by You
Lord, I’m amazed by You
How You love me”

Jared Anderson

Matthew 1:20-21: “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”

What would you do if your fiancé told you a story that sounded like a lame excuse?  Nothing made sense to Joseph anymore after seeing his fiancé returning from her recent family visit, three months pregnant. Pregnancies usually serve as physical evidence that a man and a woman had sexual relations. Claiming otherwise would be foolish, which is why Mary’s pregnancy is still controversial today. A woman getting pregnant without a guy being involved – why would God do such a thing?

Joseph was confused. It pained him to think that Mary would go behind his back with a secret relationship, dishing a lie to explain away her pregnancy, and then asking him to marry her to cover it all up. 

In sleepless nights to follow Joseph would wrestle with the prospect of putting Mary’s life on the line if her pregnancy out of wedlock became publicly known. After agonizing over his decision, he finally considered quietly breaking the engagement. Anticipating Joseph’s reaction, God sent His angel. In a dream God’s messenger confirmed that Mary had in fact told him the truth.

600 years before these events transpired, Isaiah wrote down a famous prophecy (Isaiah 7:14):

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

God has sent prophets and angels to broadcast His intentions centuries ago, long before they became reality; He did that so that we are able to put two and two together and recognize a sign from God when there is one. “A virgin bears a child” is a prediction fulfilled. Nonetheless, despite angel accounts and prophet proclamations, it still requires faith to believe Mary. We know that Joseph believed that the child she carried in her womb was the Son of God. Similar to Joseph, we too have a choice to make.

Would you take that leap of faith and believe the outrageous story of Christmas to be true?

Hebrews 11:1: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of realities not seen.”

Obeying God blindly reveals that we trust Him infinitely. This is also called: stepping out in faith. Abraham is a prime example. He left his home turf and everything that was familiar to him to go on a journey with unknown destination. Here is what God told Abraham (Genesis 12:1):

“Go from your country, your people, and your father’s household to the land I will show you.”

Leaving our home and migrating to completely unknown territory is a great challenge for everyone, and so it was for Abraham. God challenged Abraham more than once in his lifetime, and he responded to whatever God called him to do, which is why he is called the Father of Faith today.

Have you ever challenged someone to do something that seemed quite daunting to the other person, and yet, you knew, this person is going to finish the task and grow in the process? It could be a scenario at work; it could be a parenting situation. Here is the deal: Would you ever belittle the outcome of the person who went to work for you, tackled the issue, and the result was less than perfect? Probably not! Maybe you would offer some constructive criticism, but all in all you would encourage the person who just jumped into cold water for you.

In the same manner, whenever God challenges His children to do something, He is not expecting perfection. Jesus had Peter’s back when He challenged him to get out of the boat, as we read in Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 14:29-31):

“Come,” he [Jesus] said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

If we obey God we can rest assured He has our backs. Maybe it’s nerve-racking, but we won’t regret following through with whatever God puts on our minds and hearts to do. James strongly supports this idea in his letter (James 1:22):

“Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”

Believing shows its true colors when we actually do what we profess – we walk the talk. It’s an awesome thing to be challenged by God and live to see the outcome of our blind obedience. But even if we don’t live to see it, we will leave a legacy. Steps of faith always leave footprints stirring up love, stirring up hope, and creating something new, something beautiful.

God highly values our faith in Him, in fact, it seems that every time He beckons us to go out on a limb and we follow through, we grow a little closer to Him. So, why don’t you believe God, and step out in faith today? You’ll be amazed to find His heart in the process!

“I will seek You in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step, You’ll lead me
And I will follow You all of my days” (Rich Mullins)