Tag Archives: Growing in Faith

Beliefs and Faith

Living in the Spirit
August 18, 2017

Scripture Reading: Romans 11:1-2a, 29-39

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
‘For who has known the mind of the Lord?
   Or who has been his counselor?’
‘Or who has given a gift to him,
   to receive a gift in return?’
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen. –Romans 11:33-36

Paul celebrates God’s unmeasurable wisdom and knowledge as he ponders the fate of his fellow Jews. Is it too much for us to grasp that we may not fully understand the magnitude of God or God’s love? Do we think our way of being God’s children is the only way? People quote to me John 14:6, Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. I say I do agree with that but quote back to them John 10:16, I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. Probably a fruitless exchange, we are neither likely to stray from our positions.  Paul would tell us, For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12) This, of course, is from his famous chapter on love. Study and discernment is good unless it hinders our loving God and loving one another.

The older I get, the less important what I believe becomes. I do not know if that is true of others. Maintaining and building a firm relationship with God through Jesus Christ and following the command to love God and love as Jesus loves becomes paramount in my life. Perhaps when I attain perfection in those two actions, beliefs will be clear or unnecessary. Discerning how to live love is a challenge that requires exchanging ideas on faith with others guided by the written word as well as the Word that became flesh. In so doing our structure of faith forms and reforms as we learn and grow. The framework of the structure includes what we believe at the moment. The world was believed to be flat until it was proven round.

I am blessed to learn from people of many faiths, people who question faith, and people with no faith at all. Since I am called to love them all anyway, it is an added value that my understanding of God blossoms in the process of discernment.

Prayer: God, open our hearts and minds to your teachings from whatever source you deem appropriate. Protect us from false prophets. Let your truth speak clearly to us. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Unless Someone Guides Me

PhilipEastertide
April 27, 2015

Scripture Reading: Acts 8:26-40

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Get up and go towards the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’ (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go over to this chariot and join it.’ So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. –Acts 8:26-31 

What does it mean to make disciples?  Merriam Webster describes a disciple as one who receives instruction from another:  one who accepts the doctrines of another and assists in spreading or implementing them.* Visions of altar calls and mass baptism may come to mind when thinking about making disciples. It even seemed at times that churches competed with each other to see who could get the most. While confessions of faith and baptism play an important role in the development of a follower of Christ, it is an ongoing and lifetime process for all of us. While we are responsible for making disciples we are continuing to grow as disciples ourselves.

Philips experience with the Ethiopian is a great example of this process. First, we have the story of his being led by God to go out into the world where he could encounter someone who was not a disciple but was open to learning a new way. Where do we meet new people? Where do we find people who hunger for something more to their lives but may not know exactly what it is? Where do we find people who were perhaps raised in the church but have drifted away?

Second, Philip had the courage to approach the traveler. This man was apparently a practicing Jew for he was returning home from worshiping in Jerusalem. Philip heard him reading from Isaiah, which provided Philip and entry into a conversation. The two shared a common background that made the contact more meaningful. Philips was then invited, given permission, to share his thoughts and understandings.

We can all learn from Philips’ example of making disciples. I wouldn’t be surprised, if we could talk to Philip today, he would tell us that he became a better disciple because of the same discussion.

Prayer: Lord, open our lives to exchanges with people that help them become or grow as your disciples as they help us grow as your disciples. Amen.

*http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/unabridged/Disciple

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.