Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Blogging Towards Sunday March 15th
The Vocabulary of Faith
"Faith without Works is Dead"

John 13:33-35
Ephesians 2:1-10
James 2:16-24

I think we often put the cart before the horse when we talk about faith, doing good works
(or puttying our faith into practice) and salvation. We in the Modern American Church spend most of our time talking about what is truth, how we know it, who is saved and how we are saved. I suspect that we've somehow gotten it backwards. How come we invest little of our teaching and spiritual focus upon what a saved life looks like, not just after a prayer, but day in and day out? What does a life - and a community life - look like of and for those that are doing what Jesus commanded - following him and his teachings in word, action, presence and relationships?

Part of our challenge undoubtedly comes from the testimony of the Bible itself. Jesus says "come and follow me" - the following implies a doing - putting into practice what he teaches in order to be saved. The apostle Paul seems (in Galatians, Ephesians and Romans) to focus on the mysterious paradox that we are saved not by doing good works - or earning salvation - but rather through faith in Christ - the gift of Grace freely given by God. The Greek work for SAVED means to both "be saved" and to "be made whole"- to be set free from past sickness, division, destruction or brokeness. Maybe Jesus (and Paul too) are talking more about how we lead lives of wholneesshere and now, as opposed to what life in heaven is all about and how we can intellectdually know we're among the chosen. Maybe Jesus is inviting us to know a truth not just with our minds but first and foremost through relationshop, to comtemplate the word of God not just with our minds, but in the way that we as a commnity act in the world in which we live.

A traditional African proverb states: "when you pray move your feet". [blog link] Liberation Theologian Gustavo Gutierrez puts it another way "The starting point of Chiristian life and therefore of theology is the encounter with Christ, in whom we recognize God to be love and Father, and other human beings to be our brothers and sisters. The truth that liberates is Christ himself and every action and word which comes from him. Christian life, is above all else, a following of Christ." In John 13, Jesus says if you love me you'll do what I command: love as I have loved.

Someone told me recently that they don't feel an overwhelming love for God. At funerals when people say about the deceased "he/she loved the lord" this person says that they don't think they would say that about themself. Yet this person is one of the most militantly and faithfully active people I have met in terms of fighting for the poor, empowering growth, deliverance and wholeness in Oakland, and a tirless advocate for children. If I know anyone who moves their feet when they pray - it's this person! Maybe we do have it is maybe more about action than vocabulary, more about speaking with our hands and feet than simply giving lip-service to it?

No comments: