2 Timothy 1:1-14
My story of faith begins with the luck of being born into a family of Faith. In many traditions throughout Christendom, an emphasis is made on people coming to believe later in life. While learning about God and converting to faith is a hallmark of the Christian experience, that is not how everyone comes to faith; like me, I was born into it, and throughout my life I knew I had an uniquely Christian life.
I can say that there have been many times in my life where my faith has been challenged and others where it has been strengthened. But all in all I accept that my faith is something that I have received as a gift, just as I received my Birth into a loving family a gift. This is my reality.
I say this as we prepare for worship this Sunday because the texts explore the difference between Faith and Faithfulness. Both of the passages we explore this Sunday talk about faith in terms of its relationship to Christ, i.e. the faith we hold, we hold because Christ:
8 Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 
If faith and subsequently salvation is given to us in Christ, then Faithfulness is how we express and live out this relationship. In Luke 17:5–10, the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith. Fundamentally, what the disciples get wrong is a very basic understanding in the teachings of Christ in that you either have faith, or you don’t. It is one of the few clear declarations Christ makes in his teachings.
This makes faith foundational, as well as changing. This is where faithfulness enters in: Faithfulness is how we live out the faith and let that faith transform us. When we forget that our faith does not grow by our own works and hard efforts, we become lost to an understanding of God’s grace. When we lose that understanding, we often find ourselves floundering within disbelief, among other things.
This is why faithfulness is important. When we live a faithful life we stretch to become in touch with that faith that is in our core and begin to recognize how that gift of faith has changed over time.
As you prepare your heart for worship this Sunday ask yourself: Was there a particular time when your faith weakened? Can you recall a time when the strength of your faith helped you endure? God often uses special people in our lives to help us grow in faith and understanding. Who has helped you grow in faith?
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen