OF PASSION & PROPOSITIONS: growing a non-balanced faith

6874balance_scale     When I was in the final stages of producing my doctoral dissertation I ate out a lot. Escapism, most likely. During one such luncheon at Panda East, a Chinese restaurant in Amherst, MA, I opened a fortune cookie which read— Nothing worthwhile is ever accomplished without passion. I thought of some of the great names throughout history for whom this proverb has proven true— Hammurabi, Moses, Alexander the Great, Jesus, Christopher Columbus, Albert Einstein, Orville and Wilbur Wright, Thomas Edison, Mother Teresa, Ronald Reagan— all were driven by passion and tenacity to accomplish something beyond themselves.

     Yet, the church in North America seems driven by balance— balance in life, in our families, in faith, in our behavior— moderation in all things, no rocking the boat. Straight-forward, rational explanations of life should suffice to renew the mind and focus our resolve. It is almost as if being out of balance, or slightly extreme in any way, is viewed as the real threat to the church and to the stability of our individual faith.

     But if Truth is primarily personal (though certainly not exclusively), found in the Person of Jesus Christ, there are some very critical implications for us that impact our Christian lives, balanced or otherwise, and how we exhibit our faith to others. This will probably flip me from the frying pan into the fire, but it is time we examined belief and emotion in light of Scripture. After a great deal of scrutiny, I must admit that I do not find a lot of only believe-ism in the Bible.

     In many churches across America, there are large banners running across the front or the back of the sanctuary— TO KNOW CHRIST AND TO MAKE HIM KNOWN. Now hear me out on this one. I find no fault with this banner. But I do find it curious that it seems to be all about the knowing. It is assumed that everything else will flow out of that, even the “making him known” part. There are many churches that excel in fulfilling the first part: teaching their members to know a great deal about their faith.  But I find very few exerting much effort in training their members to fulfill the second part: making Him known (to those outside the church). Most sorrowfully, our interface with those outside the church has become solely an effort to pass on the information about Christ, rather than any genuine immersion in the lives of normal people.

     Why is this? I fear it might be due to our fear of the outside, or, much worse, a simple desire to remain in control. If we learn anything in our walks of faith it must be that God is in control…, not us. I’ve often wondered if the failure of our evangelical culture in the West to be part of our culture is that we fear being out of control.

     We need to learn to grow a nonbalanced faith: one where God is in control, where we don’t have all the answers, in which our passion for people, and for our Lord, takes over our whole being. For reference, I point you to an account of the revival of religion in Northampton in 1740-1742 as was reported in “The State of Religion at Northampton in the County of Hampshire, About 100 Miles Westward of Boston.” The letter was published in The Christian History, January 14, 21, and 28, 1743, written by Rev. Jonathan Edwards, [ http://www.jonathanedwards.com/text/jeaccnt.htm ].

NEXT— Being a Christian in a New Era:  it’s a generational thing.

Balancing my faith on one foot…, now the other one; whoops,

  Gary

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Beyond Love Games-Accessing the Power of Christ

Love games, christ, christian, clueless, powerBEYOND LOVE GAMES: accessing the Power of Christ

To move Beyond Our Love Games we need to access the power of Christ. This is both simple and not so simple. If you are not a Christian, bear with me.

Love Games arise from fear: fear of being known, fear of being wounded, of being betrayed…, again. Genuinely trusting another person, especially with the person behind the wall that you have built, can be a frightening thing. Because personal revelation and exposure can be used against you.

This is just as true for Christians as anyone else. So, we hide too. We have just as many phobias and insecurities as anyone else; we live in the same world of hate, anger, risk, duplicity and sorrow as everyone else. Accessing the power of the God who lives inside us is an unfathomable resource when life’s little Love Games come knocking. So stop what you are doing, breathe, take another sip of coffee (or tea), and muse over these ideas.

  • Read vast amounts of Scripture. Like, Genesis, or I & II Samuel, maybe a Proverb-a-day (there are 31); or, all four gospels—over and over. This should get you thinking outside your worry-box. At the very least you’ll become quite familiar with large chunks of Scripture.
  • Try praying where you do not ask for anything. Just listen. Shut up and simply listen for God. [Note- He does not always speak at your bidding. Keep listening.]
  • Start living your life as if you are a forgiven sinner; for so you are. Stop confessing your sins over and over; you are wallowing in them. Dig your way out of the sludge (notice that Hand reaching out to you) and leave the muck & mire behind. No need to dredge them up so you can feel bad about yourself. As Elsa sings in Frozen— “Let it go!” Christ has. You will still sin: and you are forgiven.
  • Put God to the test. God will stand by His Word and stay with you through the Love Games. If you find yourself exhibiting forgiveness, strength-in-pain, a calm resilience, and a heart-felt peace, then you can be sure He is behind it. If not, you are working too hard at doing your Father’s job in your life. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.
  • Try worshipping the Lord with more than your mere mind. Arouse your passions to join with your mind in worship. Our faith is just as much a heart encounter as it is a cerebral engagement. Don’t be fooled that a one-sided faith is a balanced faith. It isn’t. Besides, you need a little imbalance in your faith—it keeps you on your toes.
  • Worship together with other Christians. Here’s a good place to practice—

Hillsong: When I Lost my Heart to You

  • Cease striving. Stop fighting God. He is not sitting up there trying His best to ruin your life. He wants to fulfill it. Give Him room to work His miracles in His way…, not your way.

Keep in mind that accessing the Power of Christ is not a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Its warranty runs out when you stop using it.

Now get on your knees and seek the Father.

NEXT DISCUSSION:  How Love Games Destroy Relationships.

 Empowered,
  Gary