Monday, September 08, 2008

Excellence: In Faith

In 2 Cor 8.7 the Apostle to the Gentiles asks his Corinthian audience to excel in a number of things. The first in the list of areas that the dutiful follower of Jesus is supposed to excel in is faith. Of course, this is because everything in the Christian life is by faith. Faith is the currency of the Kingdom of God. It is what God responds to. We see this in the life of Jesus- he is rarely amazed or astounded by things- except faith, or the lack of faith in his disciples. He is amazed and encouraged when he finds it in the Centurion, and the Syrophonecian woman; and he is equally disturbed when the disciples cannot seem to find enough of their own to cast out demons, heal the sick , comprehend deep spiritual truths, or go and preach the gospel.

Faith is, of course, so important to God that we followers are known as "beleivers". We trust in the saving work of Jesus on the cross, we trust that the presence of Christ is with us, and we trust God to work out his plan in our lives for the amazing future that he promises to us. When faith is lacking or deficient, we are out of communication with God.

Promises come to us by faith- the scripture tells us that faithful adherence to the "faith' passed on to us (ie., those corporate teachings of the Apostles who walked literally with Jesus), is guarranteed to bring salvation to us. That faith is a collection of understandings formed out of the teachings of Scripture that create a faith world view. Real followers of the Lord must learn what he says about the various teachings. (One of the tragic circumstances that exists today is that we have 'born again' believers who are ignorant of what the teaching of the Word is on important subjects- an in the vacuum of that knowledge they live spiritually weak, duplicitous, even sinful lifestyles. This shames the King and his Cross.

The life of faith is not soley preoccupied with dogma and doctrine. It is optimistic in that it sees the "God quotient" in every equation. It demonstrates the existence of faith by refusing to limit its vision to the mundane circumstances or even the hostile climate that it exists in. The Christian ought to see the future positively. Not out of some form of weak inability to handle the true curcumstances, but out of an inner strength that refuses to see the glass half empty. Think for a moment about your outlook. do you approach life with a tragic and scarred psyche that is afraid to believe God for the best today? God says... excel in faith!

And, of course, the world view of the people of faith is defined by the God of their faith. That is why the closer we get to Jesus- the more infectious our faith. We can say to the lost "God has better than this for you"; and to the hurting "God will heal you"; and to the lonely " God will comfort you". What will make the church more effective? Better preaching? More programs? Slicker Media ads? No- What the world needs to see is exactly what they lack- an infectious faith in the living God.

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