Monday, 26 June 2017

A Transforming Faith

In a world with so many things competing for our attention and time, it can seem that faith in Christ, church attendance, spending time growing in that faith, is just one among those competing things.

After all isn't going on Sundays or when-ever it is we meet once a week with our church enough? Isn't it enough to go when we can, when other events, activities and invitations haven't taken priority? And then I hear things like, it doesn't seem to make any difference to my life this faith thing.

Do we really need all of this discipleship, bible study, meeting for prayer and support?

Jesus did not preach and teach a faith that is a tack on to the many other competing things that we could be attracted to spend time on. As one person said to me recently, "it is not an insurance policy" to which we pay our dues. Nor is it, in my opinion, about duty, the sense that we must do all these things and more or we can't wear the badge and be fully signed up.

However with teachings such as ...

Daily take up you cross and follow me ...

Jesus made it fairly clear that following him was going need that faith to take priority in our lives and would take each of us some personal sacrifice. Now before we all start thinking oh no! Am I doing enough? Its not about that at all. Its about a faith that transforms our lives, that grows within us and can continue to grow within us, and affects every aspect of our lives, if we will let it.

The more important question for each of us as we consider following Jesus or try to follow him is perhaps - "What am I prepared to invest in that faith journey? In other words what priority will I give to that journey of discipleship to enable me to grow in faith and to see the fruit of that faith grow, in my life?

What priority will we give to regular attendance at church with others?
What priority will we give to joining a home / life / study group to learn more of Jesus, share with others?
What priority will we give to prayer and personal bible study / reading?

Will they override clubs and activities, or will they take 2nd or 3rd or even lower priority to our jobs, hobbies, social lives? These are not bad things in themselves, but they become almost "gods" in our lives when they take priority over our faith.

Isaiah, a prophet of old told the people of Israel to be careful of making the things they make with their hands, "gods", the things that distracted them from the one God. Perhaps a warning to us today, not to have a luke-warm faith.

For many of the early disciples it meant giving up pretty well everything to follow Jesus, his mission became their overriding priority. Is our desire to grow in faith and so be transformed by that faith, our overriding life priority? If we will it will transform our lives and all that we are involved with.

Let me encourage you, for me investing time in these things and continuing to make them priorities in my life has effected a transformation in me that I and many others would not have thought possible. I have seen that same transformation in many others, who also have and continue to make this a priority in their lives.

I think the writer of the book of Hebrews knew all of this, ending this part with "Our God is a consuming fire". Someone who had, I think, experienced the transforming power of faith in Christ.

Heb 12:26  At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens."
Heb 12:27  The words "once more" indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Heb 12:28  Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
Heb 12:29  for our "God is a consuming fire."

Do you need to review your priorities so that faith in Jesus might become that consuming fire that transforms your life as it has some many others?