Tuesday, November 04, 2008


One of my most helpful antidotes against worry or fear is to do something. Not just to exercise faith in some kind of passive way. Oh, of course there's a time for that. Sometimes we need to be still and know that he is God. Sometimes we have to shut up and listen. Sometimes we need to quit trying to solve the problem ourselves, and just rest.

Doing gets bad press among us Protestant evangelicals. After all, we're children of the Reformation which makes it clear that our salvation is by grace alone through faith alone apart from works. But as I was reminded today by N.T. Wright, what we do really does matter.

Yes, again faith can be passive. But quite often it's active. By faith I do certain things, whether or not it seems to make sense to me at the time or not. For example for me taking communion is important. All do it once a month at our church, but it's made available for any after each service. I think it keeps us close to being accountable as well as aware of the salvation of Jesus for us. Reminded of this great salvation through his death for us- his broken body and shed blood. And accountable to both receive and live in this forgiving, sanctifying (cleansing, making holy) grace.

Another important activity of doing for me is both reading and listening to God's word, Scripture. I have to keep at this, and every day. Like the manna that was to be gathered daily, we too are to live on the bread that God supplies in Jesus and in his word, Scripture. And it takes the whole word, not just bits and pieces of it, just as we need the whole Christ.

One more important activity I'll mention here is the necessity of praying. This is something we do. It has passive elements, and there's a dependence on the Spirit. But we have to pray whether or not we feel like it, or sense the Spirit in it or not. We need to keep praying to God. This is something we need to be doing. It's a matter of faith, but faith without doing, is no faith at all, according to James.

All of this needs to be done in the context of the Jesus Creed, by the way. This is of the utmost importance, and we dare not lose sight of it. If we're not moved by love for God and for others, our faith is empty and of no value (1 Corinthians 13; Galatians 5:6). Of course this is all "in Jesus". And ends up being a part of his special ongoing work of God in the world through the Spirit.

What would you like to add here?


lorenzothellama said...

Hi Ted. One of the wonderful things about being Catholic is that you get Communion at every service, and to me it's the most important part of the Mass. But then it would be, as I'm Catholic!

Happy Election Day!

L.L. Barkat said...

I liked that small bit about it taking the whole word, not just bits and pieces. Have you read Scot McKnight's Blue Parakeet yet? He discusses this issue quite nicely by presenting the "morsel" concept (noting that some read the bible as bits and pieces of law and others as bits and pieces of blessing and promise... while what we really need to do is as you say... take in the whole story).

preacherman said...

Wonderful post Ted.
I agree with lorenzothellama. I attened a non-denominational church that serves communion every Sunday. It is so uplifting and does strengthen my soul. I know many believe that taking it every week looses its power and meaning but I beg to differ. It is something I look forward too.

Yes, happy election day!

Crowm said...

Good stuff Ted. I think you hit the "nail on the head" when you point out evangelical protestants feel safe in just being. I appreciate the examples of Communion, Study, and Prayer. I'm also reminded Abraham was considered righteous (Gen 15:6)because of his belief. How do we know what he believed? Because he acted upon his belief.

Anonymous said...

good and thoughtful post

Ted M. Gossard said...

I appreciate that. The Eucharist is a reenactment of our partaking of the benefits of Christ's body and blood, in his death for us on the cross. Only by faith in Christ and his death, do we live with the eternal kind of life, as Scripture says.

Yes, a great day here, in that an African-American is now president-elect. I believe he was clearly the best candidate, even while not agreeing with all of his policies. (and that's not a put down of McCain, really, either)

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, a great read, a helpful book. I lended my advance reader copy of it, and reviewed it. I need to get my new copy of it. An important book, I believe.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes. I agree.

And it is a big day, here. We need to pray, even as Scot McKnight has already posted a prayer on Jesus Creed.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, and amen. Yes, we must act if we really have faith, just as James tells us of Abraham.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks, Nancy.

lorenzothellama said...

Hello Ted,
Congratulations on your new president.

Thank you for your thoughtful comments on my blog. I will answer the question on Japan over there because other people may be interested.

I was listening early this morning to the election results and I must say that we are delighted that Obama is now going to be president. McCain seems to be an honourable man and I thought his speach to congratulate Obama and his speach to his own people in Phoenix was gracious to say the very least, especially compared with the message Bush sent. (your good bride???!)

Bush is extremely unpopular here in Britain, in Europe and from what I gather from Jack, in Japan. I think people here are really relieved that Obama is now president because there is a belief that he will tackle climate change, the recession, social issues etc. This is not just me speaking, but I was listening to the rundown on the English Papers on the radio this morning.

I think Obama himself said that the son of a Kenyan immigrant (I believe his grandfather was a goatherd, but not sure there)could achieve the highest office in the land, is a mark of the 'American Dream' where there is room for all people to rise to the top.

It seems amazing that only a couple of generations ago black people were not even allowed to vote. Martin Luther King would have been so happy today!

Well I've waxed lyrical enough. My biggest fear for Obama is that some madman will take a potshot at him. Your greatest presidents have been assinated, but I really hope the security forces in the States will protect him and his family, as I am sure he is going to be one of the greatest presidents ever.

I think the standing of the United States in world opinion has rocketed tonight, from being pretty low down. I know the American people don't particularly care how popular they are (or at least that's the impression I get)but listening to the reports coming in from the Capitals of the world, I feel that America has not just climbed up out of the unpopularity stakes, but has simply shot out!

I hope you don't mind if I mention to Craver and Susan that I have left these comments here, as I really don't want to have to keep writing this all out again!

Love Lorenzo.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks for your good comment, and kind words. Not sure what you mean by "your good bride". I thought that while President Bush did some good, overall it was off track.

I concur. And there's nothing inherently wrong, I believe, with the United States having a better standing in the world. What President-Elect Obama has said on world affairs is much better in my view, than either President Bush or Senator McCain. Of course my one major concern is Obama's position on abortion. Though Obama also has some good thoughts on it, and the Democratic 95/10 Initiative (to reduce abortions 95% in 10 years) is overall very good, I think.

But all in all, I'm favorably inclined myself by Obama. And he will need plenty of prayers, and hopefully will be a person of prayer himself, feeling the weight of dependence on God. (too of his biggest influences have been Abraham Lincoln and Reinhold Niebuhr, the theologian, and there's alot of good from them)

Thanks for all your thoughts here. And again, great to see your trip and pics of your family in Japan.

Ted M. Gossard said...

And Lorenzo,
That's fine (ref.: Craver and Susan).