Tuesday, January 01, 2013

The Reason for God: Where Do We Go From Here?

It's a brand new dawn, a brand new day and a brand new year. We wrapped up the Reason For God Reloaded last Sunday and embarked on something experimental, conversational for the new year. 

What if we are ready to explore what it means to put our faith in Christ? Where do we go from here?

Examine our motives: We may be conscious of need for God and some kind of spiritual help. There’s nothing wrong with that but it’s easy to approach God as a means to an end – to serve God or to get God to serve us? Virtually all of us begin our journey to God with some needs but we need to transition eventually to begin thinking: “What do I have to do to know God?”

Count the cost: Jesus is Lord of all or not Lord at all. Bono and Flannery O’Connor speak of the all-or-nothing choice before us. It changes everything about who we are, how we see and how we live.

Take Inventory: What if you are not ready to make such a big commitment? Discern the specific reasons for your reservations. Are there content issues (parts of the gospel that you don’t understand or agree with)? Coherence issues (unresolved doubts and objections)? Cost issues (something that you have to give up/commit)?

But don’t do this alone. Almost anything – new language, new skill – is best learned in a community of others who are at various stages in their own pilgrimage. Not a watertight argument, but a watertight Person. How do we connect to this Person?

Repent: It is not less than being sorry for specific sins but it means much more. It is recognizing your main sin, the sin under the rest of your sins, is your self-salvation project. We seek to be our own lord and savior through both good and bad deeds. It is confessing the things apart from God that we have been relying on for our hope, significance and security.

Believe in Christ: There’s content to faith, not merely nebulous experience. But it is much more than that. It involves personal trust. If your mind is filled with intellectual certainty that a life guard can save you but you don’t reach out and grab his hand, you are lost. Or if you are doubtful but you reach out anyway, he can still save you since he is strong enough. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you have to banish all doubts in order to meet God. Trust in Christ for your hope, significance and security. 

Brian McLaren: Bad faith is based on solely unquestioned authority, pressure or coercion, arrogant and unteachable, dishonest to facts, inspires no action and is a step backward (too lazy or overwhelmed by fear of complexities, so let others make decisions for me). Good faith is humble, curious and learning, honest (free to express both doubt and confidence), grateful, active, tough (bears the costs/inconveniences), communal (others can see blind spots) and relational (if I believe there is personal God behind the universe, shouldn’t my relationship with God become the basis or context for my search for truth?). 

Faith and repentance should be done in both individually and communally. We need to seal our personal commitment through public, communal action in baptism and church. It’s risky since the church is like a vast, diverse ocean. But you can’t live the Christian life without a family of believers in which you find a place.

Trauma of Grace: Finding God is not a technique. Those who enter into a relationship with God inevitably look back and recognize that God’s grace has sought them out. The woman who prayed “God, come and find me!” instead of “God, help me find you”! 

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