(Blog 1 of 3)
Some years ago I set out to write a “brief” statement of my faith that I could share with my children. At that time they were adults in their 30’s and who, probably, had a fairly well-formed idea of “religion”, faith and all that “stuff”. That “brief” statement ended up not being brief at all. So what follows here, and two other blogs, are faith points that are important for me and are offered here for your consideration.
Over the years I have resolved to have conversations with my children about faith and what I believe, but the time has never seemed right. Over those years I flirted with that topic, have implied some, have lived out some, but never really gotten into it. Maybe I was a little fearful, wanting to “say it right” but concerned that it might come out incomplete, or incoherent, or sounding like I’m proselytizing! But the reality of it is that I probably communicated more than I know.
So, here goes. First, I am an “evangelical” Christian, in the broadest sense of that word. For many years I resisted that word because of all the negative qualities that I associated with it. The word is a tough one because it has been so misused and distorted in the media, in politics and in society in general. Webster’s Collegiate New World Dictionary defines an evangelical as: “(living) according to the Gospels or the teaching of the New Testament,” and “faith through belief in Christ.” That sums up pretty well who I try to be, and often fail time after time.
I am a “sinner” (another misunderstood word), in thought, word and deed. But on the other hand, I am a “saint” (here is another one), in the “true sense” of the word. Martin Luther tells me that the test of a true saint is one who is baptized, dedicated, confirmed, and believes that Christ is savior and one who consciously tries to live out that belief. Luther would tell me that belief in Christ is all I need and by His grace my sins are forgiven. My role is to try to imitate Christ as best I can, failures not withstanding.
I have heard it said that Jesus was one of the truly great teachers! I believe that He was the greatest teacher, but He is so much more. He is God among us, and he came to teach us through parable, prophesy, example and all those stories that we find in the Bible, the whole Bible – Old and New Testaments.
Christ as God. God as a human being, These are tough concepts. In my belief, Jesus is God incarnate. Incarnate is a strange, old-fashioned and often misunderstood word. In my vocabulary it simply means that God became a man in every respect in order to understand more fully life as we humans experience it. He came in that form to show, by word and example, what God would have us do and how he wishes us to relate to one another. In short, Jesus the Christ is God! God as Teacher!
I am convinced that there is much in the Bible that is sometimes difficult to process and too many teachers and preachers have made it difficult for new believers. At the core of my belief is one simple and singular event that makes a Christian – belief that Jesus is God incarnate, he became human, was executed, and returned to life — the Resurrection! There is proof of this based on reliable witness testimony. Everything else (parting of the Red Sea, Jonah and the whale, Daniel in the lion’s den, the feeding of the 5,000, the virgin birth, etc.) is God-inspired story– stories that teach, stories that instruct, stories that have changed the world, stories that may actually be of historic fact. Those stories do not change my basic belief, they enhance it and they give it meaning.
Maybe you have struggled with this topic of faith, maybe you can glean something out of my ramblings. I hope so. I believe in scattering seeds. Look for “seeds” 102 and 103 in the near future! May God bless our continuing journeys.
For What It’s Worth