What Jesus Doesn’t Call Us To

a keyboard question mark key under warm colour lighting

Jesus invites His “believing ones” to many wonderful things.  Challenging things.  Happy things.  Hard things.  One thing He doesn’t invite us to participate in is…(wait for it)…

Although our life is to be a walk of faith…a good fight of faith…it’s not meant to be a life of blind faith.

Instead of blind faith, Jesus calls His believing ones to a life of childlike faith.  Jesus instructed His followers that His Kingdom was like little children.

I’ve heard and delivered several teachings to illustrate what Jesus was declaring.  But one of the clearest pictures of a “believing one’s” Kingdom life I saw was in the first word uttered by my oldest daughter, Julie.  Her first syllables weren’t mommy or daddy.  The first sound that intelligibly fell from her tiny lips was the question, “Why?”  [At least that’s the way I remember it.]  She was the poster child for being inquisitive.

Childlike faith is questioning faith.  Although that sounds like an oxymoron to far too many Christ followers, asking the hard, uncomfortable, difficult questions is more or less a necessity for taking our own balloon of faith and filling it with the air of life.

As my own Christian life experience has expanded and grown, I’ve gone from my beginnings as a Baptist, then a Charismatic (neo pentecostal), on to what was labeled, Word of Faith, then to the Revival Culture label and what some may perceive as Post Evangelical or Emergent leanings.

The things is….and this is a very important “the thing is”… I still embrace the basic core or heart of all of the systems of faith I just labeled. 

I realize that I have some readers who are, more than likely, scandalized that I declared an affinity to Emergent or Post Evangelical considerations.  Others may be declaring with sinking heart, “Oh, no!  You no longer believe in Revival Culture.!?”  To that I would respond to both, “Did you read the last part of the previous bolded paragraph?

You see, I haven’t left anything important in any of the expressions listed.  They all hold Jesus in common as the Way, Truth, and Life.  I also believe (and always will) that “He went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed…”  I have not “grown past” the foundational realities that hold true as expressed by all of them.  I believe we are called to be His re-presenters and it’s a part of our privilege to raise the dead, heal the sick, and cleanse the “leper.” I believe Jesus provides forgiveness from sins.  I believe God’s design is for us to prosper in all our ways. I have also become convinced that any man made explanation or definition of the Jesus life is not necessarily inaccurate, but most certainly is incomplete.  I have embraced the quality of choosing the intellectual elasticity and authenticity of being teachable.

I appreciate many teachers, male and female, contemporary and vintage, denominational and non denominational, conservative and fundamental.  I also relish the fact that I must believe in a God that is bigger than my brain.  I am skeptical about phrases that are presented with an air of authority declaring something is or isn’t biblical or scriptural.  In my personal opinion, statements like that would actually be better stated, “From my understanding (this or that is or isn’t) biblical/scriptural.”  Otherwise, as a declarative, “that’s God’s final answer” statement on what is scriptural/biblical or not, the attitude is bordering on arrogant, religious, self deception.

When my daughter, Julie, asked so many questions, she wasn’t denying her love for me, or her faith in me.  As a matter of fact, quite the opposite.  She was desiring to learn.  She had confidence that I loved her and that she could ask me anything. 

So, if you desire growth and maturity in your own faith, don’t run away from the hard, uncomfortable, difficult questions.  Also don’t be afraid to not have the answers quickly or ever on this side of forever.

Finally, be a safe place where others can ask you the hard, uncomfortable, difficult questions.  Earn their respect by listening and telling them you don’t know when you don’t.  Make sure to always affirm them by telling them that you appreciate their question.  That it’s a good one.  See…the thing is…they don’t always expect you to know everything.  What they do hope for is your respect and honesty.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions…even the one’s you are afraid to ask out loud in front of your other Christian friends at church.  God isn’t threatened.  He likes it that you want to be authentic and realin your faith.  He loves for you to grow by coming to conclusions from your own questioning.

Like Paul said, “I don’t know if I got this from the Holy Spirit or not”…but….I really don’t think He’s very keen on His kids demonizing people who don’t see things in the Bible and about faith the way they do.  Nope.  Not so much.

I heard a self proclaimed conservative protector of the faith say recently, “One big problem I have with guys like Rob Bell and Brian McLaren is that they ask a lot of questions but never give any answers.”  Okay, I appreciate being made to wrestle with hard questions.  And, I think these men ask some good, challenging ones that can’t be easily dismissed and deserve thoughtful prayer and pondering.  That doesn’t make them “snakes in the grass” like I’ve heard some comment.  That’s what I mean by “demonizing” people who don’t color on your page.

What do you think?  Or, is that beyond your comfort zone?

Gary

 

 

  • Wonderful article, Gary. I think you wrote this by the Holy Spirit just for me. Thank you. My questions are: What is Revival Culture? Who are Rob Bell and Brian McLaren? What else did I misss in my 21 years of non-service? Oh my.

  • Gary

    Steve, “Revival Culture” is a term that expresses a belief system that probably didn’t originate with Bill Johnson and Bethel Church in Redding, CA. But, that’s the place that greatly advanced the ideas of a current expression of the miraculous and very intimate relationship with God. The idea is that we are called to bring revival to the culture where we find ourselves. Much of it emphasizes “re-presenting” Jesus in the marketplace. Rob Bell and Brian McLaren are both men that I believe are asking important questions that are worthy of consideration. Rob is best known for his book, “Love Wins.” He proposes questions about hell that are very inflammatory to traditional conservative thought. He just recently took “the church” to task over the gay issue. He and Brian are highly controversial. I wouldn’t say I’m in their “camp” in all of my personal conclusions. However, they have the guts to ask the hard, challenging questions that I appreciate. Btw…you didn’t ask, but “Post Evangelical” doesn’t mean to me “past Jesus.” Brian McLaren is sort of the “father” of the Emergent Church. Many conservatives will say that it’s a departure from true Christianity. For me, he has simply attempted to start a conversation about how we are expressing our faith. Just with any expression, there are a wide variety of people who call themselves “this or that” when – side by side – they seem to believe things very differently…but they carry the same claimed label. There are Word of Faith people that have diverted so far from Kenneth Hagin’s core message that it’s not funny. Yet, they still call themselves, “Word of Faith.” Hope that helps.

  • Greetings from Gibraltar! Very interesting self-analysis there. Not at all dissimilar to where I find myself. I think that an important observation for my own journey was to realise that I was not “leaving behind” those systems of faith but rather I was building upon these foundations. So for me “leaving behind” is very much a case of “building upon” – even though each level of this building may look different. Hope this make sense. Huge blessings, John Baw.

    • Yes, John…that would be an excellent way to phrase it!