All of us at times have taken a ‘true or false’ test. The concept is very simple. You are presented with a statement and you must judge whether it is true or false. The great thing about this kind of test is its simplicity. Even if you don’t know the answer you can take a guess and still have a fifty-fifty chance of being right.
Some people try to apply the same method to the Christian faith. They look at it and then ask themselves ‘Is it true or false?’ That however is an inadequate approach to faith. Faith cannot be reduced to a series of true or false questions. More often than not, what matters is possibility not credibility. This seems to be the approach that Jesus takes with his own faith. In this Sunday’s Gospel Jesus reads from the prophesy of Isaiah which looks forward to the coming of a Messiah. The passage reads: ‘The spirit of the Lord has been given to me for he has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, to the blind new sight and to set the downtrodden free’. This is the kind of scripture that lends itself to endless speculation. Who wrote it? Who were they talking about? Has it already been fulfilled? Is it true or false?
But Jesus did not concern himself with any of this. He read this ancient text and decided to allow it to come true in and through his own life. I am aware of course that he was the Messiah and these things were actually written about him. I am also aware that he was not forced to accept any of them. Allowing them to find expression in his life was a choice that he himself made. Any one of us can choose to make that same choice. We too can be bearers of good news to the poor, we can help the hungry, release people from unjust burdens and campaign for the homeless. The question is do we want to? Do we choose to allow the words of scripture be fulfilled in us by the choices we make and the lives we live?
Many people have never looked at Christianity this way? They think of it as a creed to be accepted or rejected rather than as a deed to be done. Is Christianity true? People have debated the question over and over. But is Christianity possible? That is a different question! And it is the one that really matters. Each of us has the power to allow the scriptures and the promises of God be fulfilled in our lives and when we do so we show the world that a Christian life is indeed possible.