This blog post for our Core Values series is based on one of the central ideas of all of Christianity: faith.
It almost seems redundant to call this a central idea of Christianity, because faith itself is often defined as a set of ideas. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus encourages his disciples to believe in him as the Messiah, and that through this belief we gain eternal life (John 5:24).
This is only part of the picture of faith that the Bible gives us, though, and I would argue that in much of today’s world we tend to focus mostly on this aspect. When we talk about having faith, we discuss it as if it is solely an intellectual activity. When someone says, “Oh ye of little faith” we understand that they’re telling us to believe in something more deeply, whether that’s people, God, or prayer. But if faith is just a set of beliefs and ideas, how do we grow in our faith? Just think or believe harder? This limited approach encourages many people outside the church, and even inside it, to view faith as something that some individuals have and others do not.
If we look even closer at the Bible, however, we can see that many of the verses that talk about faith discuss what we can do or what has been done by and through faith. When we look at Hebrews 11, which lists off the accomplishments of the Old Testament’s “hall of fame” almost all of the sentences start with the phrase by faith. It becomes very clear that faith is more than just a belief in God and Jesus and the Gospel; it is also about how that belief shapes our perspective, and how that perspective influences the way we live. With this more complete view, faith becomes a lifelong process of learning how to let our convictions guide and influence our everyday life.
One of the things I most admire about our church is the passion and dedication with which so many of our members put their faith into action, both within the church and in the Lancaster community. We have people who serve countless hours on boards, making decisions and organizing the day-in and day-out tasks necessary for the life and growth of our church. We have people who organize outreach events, teach VBS and Sunday school, visit the sick or homebound, and perform countless other anonymous acts of service. Our congregation has business people, teachers, medical professionals, and many others who serve as leaders and change agents in the community. With so many movers and shakers in our congregation, it’s no surprise that we identified faith as a core value of Grace UCC.
The Bible also says that our faith in the Gospel is transformative, that it calls us to put on a “new self” (Ephesians 4:24). When we see faith as a revolutionary force, the question then becomes: what should our life of faith look like? How will our faith influence what we do every day? Is my faith evident enough in my actions? Or do I come across as overly pious? While everyone’s life of faith will look slightly different from one another, we as Christians have a model on which to base ourselves: Jesus Christ. His life and ministry paint a picture of what it is like to truly walk humbly with God.
Having the perfect Son of God as our model of faith may seem a little intimidating. But Jesus encourages us in John 14:12, saying:
I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these
This message may seem very lofty, or even heretical, at first. How can we as the church do even greater things than Jesus Christ? It feels like a very tall order to fill. But God has entrusted the church with the work of His kingdom, and he has given us, and will continue to give us, the strength and power we need. All we have to do, then, is have a little faith.