It is traditionally, and often, said that faith is a gift. Those who profess to have faith express various reasons for theirs’. “This is just how I was brought up”, some say. Sometimes faith is credited to a significant event: like “when I saw my newborn baby, I could not help but believe”.
When Jesus sees Nathanial, he demonstrates an awareness of the man that takes Nathanial by surprise. For starters, Jesus compliments him: “You are a true Israelite,” he says, “in whom there is no deception”. Jesus affirms that Nathaniel is an ‘honest seeker’; and Nathaniel is shocked by the recognition.
For starters, he probably isn’t accustomed to compliments. And he might have good reason to wonder why anyone, such as Jesus, would know him at all – how Jesus would even know his name. When Jesus refers to a past event in Nathanial’s life, the future disciple is overwhelmed. Based on this event, a profound encounter with Jesus Christ, Nathaniel becomes a believer. His faith here is but a shadow of what it will become as he gets to know God better, but Christ meets him where he is, and draws him forward.
Today is a feast of three Angel’s in the Judeo-Christian tradition: Michael, known as a protector, Gabriel, a foreteller, and Raphael, a healer, respectively. And while Angels are not a big part of my spirituality (perhaps such are not an integral aspect of Christian spirituality in general anymore) their existence in Scripture indicates that God connects, that a higher power finds us where we are at.
So if I don’t really believe in Angels, I probably don’t need to believe in Angels, God reaches me in other ways. But the question people of faith need to ask themselves is not just where has God met me (in the past) but where is God taking me now?
To believe is a gift, to behold faith is to live. I may not fully understand why I believe, but I should be able to proclaim what I believe. What sort of God have I encountered? A God who sees me as I am, like the God who saw Nathanial? Do I believe in a God who seeks?
As believers in a higher power, we are invited to get to know the force who found us. Faithful and prophetic, our persistent seeker truly heals. Like an Angel, but much more, our God comes to us in ways that are profound. Our God builds trust. May we do the same.
May we seek and find the one who sought and found us. May we accept faith as given, believe as we are believed in, and live.