The Authenticity of Faith

It had been a long trial. After weeks of evidence piling up against NFL Star Aaron Hernandez the verdict was revealed: he would face life in prison without any possible parole. Hernandez and four other men brutally murdered Odin Lloyd, and now he was found guilty of first degree murder.
The victim’s mother, after hearing the verdict, did not utter words of vengeance but rather words of love towards her son’s killer. She said that she forgave Hernandez and prays and hopes that everyone else will forgive him too. While I did not read of any profession of faith that Ursula Lloyd had made about her belief in Christ, I was left in admiration of her. Her son whom she loved had been mercilessly murdered. Yet she forgave in spite of the fact that throughout the trial Hernandez showed no signs of remorse. He just sat through the entire trial with a stoic look on his face. It raises a serious question for me: how real is my faith? I pose this question, because to go through what Mrs. Lloyd went through and still have an attitude of grace means that there has to be something real deep down in her core, something that she knows to be true.
When life deals a cruel blow and you respond with grace, that shows a deep and authentic conviction that you have about something. It made me realize that there are a lot of things I can fake, but I cannot fake true Christ-like love. As Christians we need to realize that our faith is proven in trials. We can memorize verses and understand theology, but it is how we respond in adversity that shows our true Christian character. It took a lot of courage for Ursula Lloyd to respond in the way that she did, but that is what God calls us to do. He calls us to courageous faith in spite of opposition. All over the world we are seeing this kind of faith being lived out. There are millions of persecuted Christians putting their life on the line every day for the sake of Christ. Not long ago, 147 Kenyan students were murdered at their school because they would not renounce the name of Jesus. They were murdered in cold blood and now their testimony of faith is seen all over the world.
James talks about trials in his epistle, calling us to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness” (James 1:2–3). It is not the current situation that we are to focus on but rather the end result. What makes an impact on me the most is not a person’s knowledge about the Bible (although knowledge is important), but rather God’s evidence of grace on their lives. When someone can look their son’s murderer in their face and forgive them, that inspires me. The world is not used to seeing such love. It is this type of love that our Savior showed when He hung on the cross. He prayed that His Father would forgive His persecutors.
What was it that gave Mrs. Lloyd so much courage? How were those students able to look the barrel of a gun in their eye and put their lives on the line? It’s that same boldness that the Apostles had after they were filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s a sacrificial and courageous love that only God can give them. The world badly needs to see this authenticity from the Church. They need to see this type of courageous faith played out on a consistent basis. Aaron Hernandez will have plenty of time to think about Mrs. Lloyd’s act of kindness. Who knows? Maybe this convicted NFL star will experience the same type of forgiveness that will allow him to have the same grace on others, a grace that only God can offer through Christ.
Phil Ballmaier

 

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