Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to TALK about something than it is to DO something? I can talk about the benefits of eating right, exercising, taking time to pray, getting plenty of sleep, reading the Bible, giving generously of my resources, going to worship, and loving my neighbor – but actually DOING any or all of those things requires a whole other level of commitment and dedication. As has been often said, “Talk is cheap.” Talk isn’t a bad place to start. But talk is often about as far as many of us ever go – especially when it comes to our faith.
I suspect “faith” may be one of the most used and least understood words in the English language. I think many of us confuse faith with belief. Belief is basically intellectual assent (agreement with an idea), while faith requires action. The classic and often used example of the difference between belief and faith goes like this: Belief says it is possible for someone with the right skills and experience to roll a wheelbarrow across a tight rope stretched over the Niagara Falls. Faith gets in the wheel barrow. See the difference?
In the church, we are often guilty of talking about faith in God while living our lives like “practical atheists.” In other words, we like the idea of a loving, sovereign God – but we choose to live our lives and make our decisions as if it were all up to us. As long as faith can be kept in the arena of the abstract, then it doesn’t require anything more of us than some occasional brain space. Anything more than that can begin to feel as though someone is asking us to get in the wheelbarrow. Perhaps that’s why theologians and mystics have often talked about the “leap of faith.” It isn’t really faith until you take that first step into the unknown, trusting only that God will set your foot down safely on solid ground. I believe once you’ve done that enough (discovering that God not only provides solid ground but sends you in the right direction, as well), it gets easier and easier to do.
I met with several of our leaders last week to make plans for the rest of the church year. After the spiritual high of Unbinding Your Heart in the fall and the intense focus on faith and spiritual growth that followed, what should come next? It occurred to us that the next natural step would be to take the abstract ideas of our faith and put them into action. In other words, it is time to make the invisible visible.
One of the ways we intend to do this is through a serious exploration of spiritual gifts during the season of Lent, which begins on Wednesday, February 17th and lasts through Easter. As we did in the fall, we will once again be meeting on Wednesday evenings for a light meal from 5:45 – 6:30 pm and then class from 6:45-8:00 pm. We will be studying C. Peter Wagner’s book, “Discover Your Spiritual Gifts.”
God has given each of us gifts for ministry in Christ’s Church. As Paul said often in his letters, the church functions like a human body, with each person and their gifts functioning as parts of the body. The act of discovering and using one’s gifts in the church is all about taking something abstract and making it concrete. It is about putting your faith into action.
Do you know what your gifts are? Are you using your gifts to build up the Body of Christ? If so, wonderful! Chances are you can learn even more about how you might serve God. If the whole thing leaves you a little unsure, then join the crowd! God is leading the way to a new day for each of us and our church!