Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Walking by faith

What does walking by faith look like? Does it mean you you go to church, you read your Bible, you give to the church and to others, you get involved in church activities, you become a missionary, you pray without ceasing, and so on." Not that some or all of those things can't be a part of your own personal walk of faith.

But as I've read through the "faith" chapter of the Bible - Hebrews 11 - it's occurred to me that a life of faith is really far more deep and rich. There are really a lot of things that people have done "by faith" that really don't look "churchy" or "religious" at all. A man builds a huge ship in the middle of dry land. Another man moves his entire family to another country and lives as a stranger, camping in tents. An old, barren woman gives birth to a son. A prostitute receives spies and hides them. A baby is hidden by his parents. Kingdoms are subdued, righteousness is worked out, promises are obtained, lion's mouths are stopped, people are made strong out of weakness.

Others were tortured, mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, etc... all because of their faith. I don't mean only that these things happened to these people because of their faith, but they walked into these things and willingly endured these things because of their faith.

All of these stories and so much more are packed into the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, describing what various people did "by faith." It's pretty amazing to me when I contrast all of this with the things that are expected today from Christians as acts of faith. Again, if you're involved in various sorts of "church activity," and you pray and you read your Bible and you give and you love it and know you're called to it, that's absolutely wonderful! My purpose here is to simply show how my own understanding of the life of faith has been greatly expanded far beyond "church life."

I realize that a few of the New Testament scriptures show what life in the early church was like. We can glean a lot of great stuff from all that. But if we limit our expressions of faith to "church life," I think we've missed the boat. Even in regards to the "gifts of the Spirit" --- Are God's gifts only for use in the context of a church meeting? And are the His gifts only limited to the ones Paul happens to mention? One helpful thing that I get out of Hebrews 11 is the idea that we're all different kinds of people and our expressions of faith are essentially limitless! Read through the chapter and note the diverse types of people and the diverse things they did "by faith." We have a great big God (a gross understatement). Doesn't He express Himself in and through us in so many ways beyond activity that seems religious and churchy? Can we open up our minds and hearts and ears and eyes and other senses and get a taste of what a real life of faith is? Isn't it really a great adventure?!

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