Tuesday, September 29, 2009

“Believers” and True Believers: What Separates Them

Going for a walk with my wife recently on a lovely spring day it was easy to notice the amount of people out and about, each one a uniquely special person. It is always interesting to observe people from afar. Different walks, different talks, colours, accents, energies, rhythms. And each too fits along a “faith continuum” which describes a lot of things about their character and how they’ll react to varying life situations.

I recall singing in church and the lines to Blessed Be Your Name creating a problem for me, certainly regarding my own human experience, and the lies for many and most of us in singing earnestly that song (and many others we sing in church). Perhaps we simply express a wish in singing them...

It’s an emotional hook I’m sure that some people don’t even realise. How can we really sing, “On the road marked with suffering, though there’s pain in the offering, blessed be your name,” when the vast majority of people singing it either don’t believe in that theology, and if they do, they can’t or don’t practice it? Sure, we aspire to it... but can we get there? (Well, others have!)

Certainly, living the Blessed Be Your Name life is patently about living a life lost to God. Yet, the true believer is often ostracised by the “believer” because their faith sets them apart from the world—a world the “believer” has not yet learned to let go of.

There is hence often a sharp disconnect between supposed belief and lived reality.

And it’s inauthenticity that creates division and condemns real progress in the Spirit as people (“believers” and now true believers) start looking over their respective shoulders. The true believer is reeled in, at times even when they’ve committed not to. The slightest vein of inauthenticy, of course, spoils the batch—but that’s our collective reality.

Then I thought of selecting one Bible verse that would convey what it is I’m thinking—the authenticity of the true believer. Micah 6:8 was thrust almost directly into my vision:

“He has shown all you people what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (TNIV)

And this is what it means. We are not to simply “talk it,” we are to do what God says. We are to place others first and do this aggressively against our flesh-selves—that part of our ego that wants it all (or even slightly) our own way. We fight for justice in this way; we therefore act justly. We develop our hearts to feel as God feels i.e. mercifully. We walk in quiet certitude with God.

The true believer must come back to this stature of true lived belief over and over and over again. They will be tripped up, and though they will stumble they will not fall entirely (Psalm 37:24). They’ll go on to be characterised, more or less, by Micah 6:8.

And they will ‘believe’ without swaying; consistently, generously, overwhelmingly. They will go against the flow in their belief—cutting across the grain of contemporary “safe” (worldly) belief. The will believe extravagantly, passionately, gracefully.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

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