See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
Recently, I had a spiritual breakthrough. It was not that I received a new message or gained new information. It was perspective regarding the nature of authentic faith. I believe that God is continually doing new things in our lives and communities. There is no room for complacency or commonplaceness in following Jesus.
So, if God is creating in us a newness of life, equipping us for new challenges, and sending us new journeys, why is the Christian faith so dull, life-sucking (instead of life-giving), and fear-based in so many people who identify themselves as Christian? Here are four reasons why we may have misdirected faith:
1. We misunderstand the radicalness of the calling to follow Jesus. In the Bible, Jesus asked his disciples to follow him. To follow, meant to leave lifestyles, vocations, and even relationships behind to follow him. Literally, following Jesus was a radical devotion of one's life to the ways of Jesus. Many of us have never accepted Jesus' call to follow him, only a pastor's request that you accept him. If you want newness, it begins with understanding the radicalness of the call of Jesus. Jesus would tell his disciples that unless they give up everything to follow him, they are not worthy of being his disciples (Luke 14:33).
2. We misunderstand the centrality of Jesus in everything. Jesus describes himself as "the way, the truth, and the life". He never describes himself as "a way". Jesus is not just a prophet, moral teacher, or inspirational leader. Jesus is the central agent in history and eternity (Col 1:15ff). We serve and worship Jesus as ends, not as means to helping ourselves.
3. We misunderstand the countercultural aspect of the Kingdom. While there is a tendency to read New Testament scripture to understand that its original readers were being persecuted, it is clear to me that the greater fear was that they were being seduced. Seduced by powers, structures, and principalities that seek to co-opt their communities and mold them in their likeness. The church community was to be an alternative to the power dynamics of the world. In the Kingdom of God, service, sacrifice, weakness, and love are cherished. We have become seduced by power.
4. We misunderstand our own power. Jesus made it clear that his disciples would be agents of change, catalysts for power, and workers for transformation. The great commission (Mt 28:18-20) gives authority before appointment. In other words, the disciples are empowered before they are sent on their journey. Their mission was not to be fear-based, but to be a faithful demonstration of power of God to demonstrate that the Kingdom of God is at hand through Jesus.
Once we understand the radicalness of the call of discipleship, the centrality of Jesus, the countercultural reality of the church, and our powerfulness, you will experience the newness (II Cor 5:17) and the life (John 10:10) that is promised to those who follow him.
I pray that you will be awakened daily to the newness of your faith!
Pastor M Traylor