Faith As Living Practice
Faith should cause in us obedience to the word of God. Our willingness and commitment to follow Jesus is not the cause of human effort, but a product of divine grace. Jesus calls us to trust him completely, to turn our back on the ways we have been operating and live in the Kingdom now. Jesus calls us to love and serve the least, to speak out against injustice, and invite others along the journey. Faith is not about a ticket to some celestial garden, but about bringing heaven down to earth about living the kind of life that will greatly astonish the world. Faith is not about huddling safe inside a moldy old church, but getting out in the world and being the church about preaching Jesus with your life.
Brennan Manning writes, “Faith is not the sum of our beliefs or a way of speaking or a way of thinking; it is a way of living and can be articulated adequately only in a living practice. To acknowledge Jesus as Savior and Lord is meaningful insofar as we try to live like he lived and to order our lives according to his values. Only a true practice of our Christian faith can verify what we believe.”
Dietrich Bonheoffer claims the whole of scriptureis a “summons us to follow Jesus.” He warns us in Cost of Discipleship from “doing violence” to scripture by interpreting it into abstract principles rather than doing what it says. When Jesus says to love your neighbor, forgive and not to judge that is exactly what you are to do if you are to be a Jesus follower. Love everyone, always forgive, and do not judge are not abstract principles but actions to be taken daily. In The Signature of Jesus Manning quotes Modern-day hermit Carlo Caretto, “God gives us the boat and the oars, but then tells us, ‘It’s up to you to row.’ Making positive acts of faith is like training this faculty; it is developed by training as the muscles are developed by gymnastics.”
We all have lists of all kinds of excuses or evasions for obeying Jesus. The excuse I find myself using the most is that I am not that well off financially as some, if only I had money I would use it to benefit others. In addition, I don’t have time; it would take more time than I have. I also use my reading habits to come between me and obeying God’s word. Too often, I use my book as a barrier between the world and me. It takes effort to put down my book and be a Christian. I think the biggest way of checking ourselves from making excuses for obedience is self-awareness, know where you are being called and step forward. All the theorizing in the world will not put a scrap of food before the hungry; soothe the soul of the lost and unloved; or give safety and security for the orphan and widow.
I feel that I am called to comfort the troubled and trouble the comforted. I am good at the last. I can do it without much effort. It takes effort and can drain me to do the first, yet, when I do comfort those in need of comfort than I feel much better.
We assure that our obedience is for the right reason by and through bible study, prayer, and that we are not doing it to look good in the eyes of others, but that we feel called to do good. I think that it’s all about the why of what we are doing. Our intention for acting is more crucial than what we are doing. If we do good deeds to point to towards ourselves or earn salvation than we are doing it for all the wrong reasons, but if we do it out of a deep sense of gratitude for the grace and love that has been extended to us to Glorify God than we are doing it for all the right reasons.
Manning says, “There is a radical incapability between human respect and faith in Jesus Christ.”
I want to be like Jesus. I don’t know yet what that all entails, but I am learning. I will continue to seek Jesus, because I know for me he is the way, life and light. Jesus is the deepest, most true, most beautiful revelations of who God really is. I do know as Paul says in his letters that dying to self daily will lead into deeper communion with Jesus.
- Posted in: Uncategorized
- Tagged: Being Christian, bible study, Bonheoffer, Brennan Manning, Christian life, cost of discipleship, Dietrich Bonheoffer, discipleship, faith, Following Jesus, Jesus, jesus christ., Jesus follower, love neighbor, Obedience, Obedience to Jesus, Religion, Spirituality, theology, Trusting Jesus