.. many of the so called “cutting edge churches”, the mega churches, forget that the goal of the church is to produce spiritual wholeness among those gathered by preaching and teaching, ad did the apostle Paul, “the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:17-32). Those in the church today and those who are seeking the church need to be aware that a real change occurs in the life of anyone who commits himself or herself to Jesus Christ. Our aspirations for God are encouraged by a sense of acceptance and perhaps by the inner confirmation of the Spirit. Authentic faith is that which follows the will of Christ with total obedience. When one is hindered from freedom by evil that can only enhance the feeling of God as the Holy One. We as Christians can have meaningful spiritual experiences within the context of mutual love and support as found in that part of the Christian community dedicated to following Jesus.
We gather as Christians in church to worship God and in the process of sharing love, spiritual guidance and the raising of social conscience, grow in the spirit. Christians must see that Gods love is not just “out there”, but rather as coming to meet us. When we can realize this aspect of Gods love for us then the future will shape our present faith. Salvation as a process is always gifted by God and is never, as John Wesley stated, the result of works-righteousness. What is faith? Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Heb 11:1). This chapter goes on to list people of incredible faith, who were by no means perfect, but all had in common a faith in God that went beyond the visible circumstances. This faith was based on the knowledge that God Himself is faithful. The list of people was a great encouragement to us, that we were not alone in our struggles, and that the things God calls us to are not without precedent.
God wants us all to have as He calls us to be a part of His great plan. We are the servants of the Lord, called to do the impossible, called to faith in God that He keeps His promises. Faith is hard to define but easier to observe because it is only revealed when it is being acted out. Daniel was a faithful Israelite at the time of the Babylonian Empire. Babylonian peers, who tried to set Daniel up, envied him. They had the king sign a decree saying that no one was allowed to pray for a month or else they would be thrown into the lion’s den. Daniel 6:10 says, Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.
He knew that he would be thrown in the lion’s den but he had faith. Although he would face death he knew that praying to God was the right thing to do, and in life or death, he would be obeying and trusting in God. He was caught, but God found him faithful and did deliver him from the mouths of the lions. One of the thoughts that keep coming into my mind regarding Christian faith and life as I read Buechner and English was the joy they had experienced. I was reminded of Psalms 16:11 where the idea of joy is expressed in divine terms: In Your presence is the fullness of joy. One ultimately finds real and lasting joy in being with the God of the universe.
It is not found in the stuff of the world. It is not found in possessions, in achievement or position. It is found in a simple dependence and contentment that has its origin in him. We all should take a few moments and take a look at the joy level of our life. First, we should not confuse joy with happiness.
The comings and goings of happiness are determined by the circumstances of this life. Joy is determined by our being in his presence and is independent of the circumstances of life. Joy is attainable, but only through a relationship with our Heavenly Father, gained through Jesus Christ. Faith is a huge part of the Bible’s notion of the good life. Faith is what saves a person; it is what enables someone to be born again. It is what makes one a Christian.
Being a Christian does not mean that you go to a church. Here is what I believe to be the step to the Christian good life: To believe in your heart and confess with ones mouth that Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who was without sin, gave his life on the cross for the sins of the world, and who was raised by the power of God on the third day. That can be seen as Wesley’s old type of faith which he writes of as follows, I think, verily, if the gospel be true, I am safe, for I not only have given and do give all my goods to feed the poor; etc. He goes on with a list of good works he has accomplished, and then followed with I now believe the gospel is true. The center of Christian faith is the Trinity. We believe in a personal God who is eternal and infinite.
God wishes well for us, indeed, loves us. God is not an impersonal force or principle. There is only one God, a very loving and personal one. Whatever our situation, God loves us and is powerfully able to help us. God has revealed the divine nature as a triune God – one God with three persons. This is not three gods and not just three ways of looking at God.
God is revealed as our loving creator and parent in the Hebrew Scriptures; God is revealed as our savior Jesus in the gospels; and God is revealed as the indwelling Spirit after Jesus left the earth. I don’t think that I can explain it any better than that. I certainly don’t understand the trinity any better than that. At the core of Christian faith and life, as defined by Donald English, is “the corporate and community sense within the Christian faith”. He stresses that Jesus belongs to each of us, but not exclusively to any of us.
Finally, as I understand the Christian church and the Christian faith and life, it is well and alive and in constant agitation of “being”. A struggle to do what is right and that is always a struggle.