Monday, February 25, 2008

against a privatized faith

Often what we hear as to what faith in Jesus amounts to in living in this world, is some kind of personal, privatized faith, kept to oneself without interfering into the personal, private lives of others. But this is not the faith of the Bible, or of Jesus.

When Jesus said his kingdom is not of this world, the Greek translated better in this case in the NRSV means that his kingdom is not from this world. But in Jesus this kingdom has already entered into this present age. And it's a kingdom that has to do with the holy nation in Jesus, scattered throughout the earth. Not with any one recognized nation.

Jesus along with the apostles following, and the prophets in the Old Testament, beginning with Abraham there- the faith they held from God was not meant to stay with them, but to bless all nations, all peoples. And not only that, but to bless in terms of taking care of the land, being God's caretakers of it, and in the favor of God seeing their work overflow into blessings for all peoples, and even for the good earth and God's good creatures on it. This is something of what I see when it comes to the kind of faith we in Jesus actually have.

This gives meaning and value to all we do in helping others in any way. When done in the Lord there will somehow be meaning and value not only for this life, but also for the life to come in the resurrection of all things.

For too many people, Christianity is some kind of otherworldly religion that has nothing really to do with the down to earth, practical matters and existence here, except maybe to make people better so they can serve the status quo here and now. But in Jesus there is nothing less than a different dynamic, shaping different stories and outcomes than what would have been possible prior to Jesus' coming. This is why, while we see the Old Testament as foundational for what was to come, the fulfillment in Jesus in the New Testament, brings a new, living dynamic into the world. Of course the complete fulfillment won't occur until Jesus returns, but it begins now in us- in the people of God in Jesus.

So let's beware of any individualized, privatized faith. Yes, our faith is personal, but it's meant to become public. And in so doing bring God's new creation in Jesus to bear, in all of creation here and now.

What do you think about this? What would you like to share here?


Dave J. said...

Imagine that Jesus came in our times--could people accept a new 'kingdom' today? We are democratic people and majority rules, individual freedom is sacrosanct.

I think this is part of cause of the privatized faith of which you speak.

preacherman said...

Great thoughts brother.

Anonymous said...

i am happy for this good post

Anonymous said...

i do not think that our faith can possibly be private if we are actually following Christ and living in the Spirit (instead of being a Christian in name only) if we are living our faith and our hope than we are being changed in our spirit and in our living and in our relating and in this way our faith is seen and used.

Anonymous said...

God is sooooo GOOD!

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes Dave. Very good point. I think it's helpful to ask questions like that. People evidently think Jesus would come with some kind of privatized, indivual faith, which is simply in the hearts of the believers, having little or no impact on life in this present world. A gaffe, and a big one of understanding, certainly a misunderstanding of Jesus and his kingdom.

How it happens, and how that compares with worldly kingdoms is quite another matter, and a good one for consideration.


Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, Kinney.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, Nancy.

Ted M. Gossard said...

and Amen!