Implications of upgrading our faith Part 2
Whenever you change something, there are ramifications not foreseen, especially in the Church of Jesus Christ. What follows are some of the implications of upgrading our faith to become more concurrent with the situation in which we live.
- Any new construct of theology must be visibly reflected in real LIFE. Taking a saying from the modern-era church , if correct belief produces correct action, then all the more so in a reformatted theology. “Faith without works is dead.” says James. Or, as we say around our office—Talk’s cheap: action’s everything. Theological belief as a foundation, per se, will have to be reflected in the lives of people changed by the power of God. It cannot stand alone. A systematic or Biblical theology will never become irrelevant to forming the Christian life, but it will acquiesce to the demonstrated work of Christwithin the believer. LIFE will replicate Truth. We truly ARE forgiven.
- Building on the previous platform, living with forgiveness will require that we learn to grasp guiltless living. So many of my friends, who are far from Christian, comment that “You Christians may claim to be freed by the power of Christ, but you still come across as motivated, even driven, by guilt. At least I don’t live my life riddled with guilt.” Therefore, they don’t see any advantage to becoming a Christian. They have a point. Unless we shift our “encouragement” from constantly reminding each other that we can never be good enough for God to one of being truly FREE in Christ, then we can never even begin to believe that our guilt is taken away. (Nor can they.) It’s time we started to live like God intends us— guiltless before Him, truly forgiven, new creations, through the work of Christ on the cross.
- Once God has cleaned out your soul, cleared your spirit of so much stuff, a funny thing happens— you can see things more clearly. In other words, having a clear view to God, and allowing Him to have a go at cleaning out your life, opens a window for you to gain a clear perception of things around you; like people, problems, life’s normal situations, and the effects of sin on life. When our spirits are clean before God, if we have accepted the forgiveness and freedom Jesus purchased for us on the cross, we can see His point of view and understand His way more clearly. Living the Christian life then ceases to be a chore or a duty and becomes more like a great challenge or an adventure. In John 8, a woman caught in the act of adultery is thrown at Jesus feet. The law said she should be stoned. Jesus takes the situation in hand by admonishing those calling for her stoning: “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone.” After everyone has faded away, Jesus asked the woman where her accusers are. “There are none, Lord.” she replies. Jesus simply says “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” He saw the forgiveness he would purchase on the cross and bestowed some of it on her… early. Do we see people who don’t understand, whose lives are driven by guilt, who think they can never measure up to the standards of God; do we see them like Jesus did? I wonder. We need to develop that same clear perception our Lord manifested if we are to live in the new realities of North America’spostModern, postChristian culture.
- A fourth characteristic of this new reality for the Christian is the need to be immersed in the surrounding society. But first a warning. To genuinely immerse yourself in your surrounding society, you need first to be a committed member of a Christian community. You need the emotional and spiritual support of like-minded believers who know the importance of being a clean, genuine Christian. It is imperative if you are going to be immersed in a hostile (though somewhat passive-aggressive) society. Make no mistake, North America is adapting a more contrarian position to the Christian one on almost everything. There are so many preconceived assumptions about Christianity (judgmental, bigoted, racist, anti-environment, anti-abortion, pro-war, to name a few) that, at least in the area where we used to live, to answer the question Are you a Christian? in the positive could bring an extremely negative reaction. Before I answer it, I ask “Well, what do you mean by ‘Christian?’ That can be a somewhat pejorative word.” In your community, what would be an appropriate answer to the question— Are you a Christian? What would the reaction most likely be? Most of us never find out. Why? Because for many of us, our lives come across as so marginally Christian that no one would think to ask. Still other Christians are so weird, out of it, dork-like even, that normal people in our society don’t want to know. We’ve already confirmed their suspicions.
- Oddly the last ingredient of faith in this new reality brings us full circle. If people will not believe in a Truth they cannot see, then there must be some explanation provided for what they do see. In short, we need Christian explanations for the behavior of people who claim the name of Christ. This returns the Christian to become once again the student of the Bible and of the world. For any Christian explanation of a Biblical principle must be set forth in a manner which can be understood by Normal, everyday people. I said earlier that Talk’s cheap: action’s everything. That’s where belief hits reality. But action needs both context and explanation. We do not want postModerns thinking Christians are good people just to be good. The motivation to act must also be understood as well. It’s the why of life that gives our actions meaning and context. And for anyone who has had an experience with God (and many I have met have) it is absolutely tantamount that they understand their experience through the filter of Christian faith and Christian Truth. Their experience can only be validated through filtration and reflection in the Bible. To validate it through any other source would be to invalidate it as a genuine experience of God.
Truly, it is time for an upgrade to our faith. It is time for a reformatting of how we believe. Postmodernism’s myths have forced us into it. BUT, and this is a BIG BUT, how do we do it? How do we express our faith in the language, idioms, and formats of our culture and still present our faith in Christ as the only legitimate way to God? Well, that’s the next chapter. Read on if you dare. I mean that. For the next chapter will stretch you about how you perceive and present your life of faith to others. And it all starts inside your soul. Is all this feeling a little unnerving for you yet? Good.
NEXT— Tune in two weeks from now for—
Getting from Here to There: what to do, what to do…?