My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:4
Good morning. How’s your coffee? It’s Wednesday at Wycliffe which means it’s a busy – but good – day. It’s our “Sunday” together as a community – students and faculty and families. We gather together for fellowship and Worship and Communion followed by dinner that’s crowded and loud with laughter and conversation and kids running around. It’s a beautiful time. But for now, in the early morning, it’s quiet, just me and my coffee in my room, up earlier than usual so that I can keep my commitment to write twice a week and re-discover the joy of writing something that isn’t a school assignment.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wants them to know what it is to be a Christian Community, a people group who accept God’s transformative power among them so that they can participate in God’s purpose for His creation. Paul speaks of growing into the maturity of faith through the power of the Holy Spirit so that they may live out the good news of the Gospel. But what does Paul mean by faith? He wants them to understand it’s more than just stating belief in God.
Having faith means that I acknowledge, not just with my words but with the entirety of my being, that God is God. Faith is saying that He is the Creator of the Universe. Faith is accepting that He loves me because He is Love. Faith is seeing everyone and everything as an interconnected part of God’s story that I won’t always understand and that will not be complete until in the fullness of time He gathers all that He has created unto Himself. Faith is letting go of my will for His so that the Holy Spirit may transform me into the person God’ desires me to be.
This in no way, however, diminishes my responsibility or my accountability. In fact, it gives me greater responsibility; because of my faith I am always and in every way, in everything I say, think, feel, and do, a witness, either good or bad, to the Glory and Goodness and Love of God. When I do not reflect God who is Love and Goodness, it says something about who I am. God is always faithful. The Bible shows that no matter how many times people chose to do what was right in their own eyes, God continually called them, continually calls us, back to Himself.
In today’s world, being told that we are not autonomous individuals is almost impossible for us to hear. Our entire worldview is built on the idea that we are first and foremost individuals. Yet we all have this need to “belong”, to connect with others. Somehow we instinctively know what numerous scientific and psychological studies have proven, that humans thrive best in community – in relation with others. We do our best to balance this instinctual need to be with others with our self-given autonomy by viewing our “communities” as something that is for “me”. I belong to such-and-such a group because of what it gives to, does for, fulfills in me. Once we no longer feel that we are getting anything out of said community, we move on.
But what if community isn’t about “me” but about the “other”? What if it isn’t about what we get out of it but what we put into it? What if what we put into it isn’t only about how much we “do” but our committed presence to live out the words of Galatians 6, bearing one another’s burdens and carrying our own load … no matter what? What if putting the other first isn’t a sign of weakness but a sign of strength and courage, the courage to say that in giving up my autonomy I claim an identity that is far greater than any other: the identity of a child of God; the strength to say not my will but God’s because God is God … and I am not. Having faith is believing in God and acknowledging our place in His plan and purpose.
"Heavenly Father, in you we live and move and have our being: We humbly pray you so to guide and govern us by your Holy spirit, that in all the cares and occupations of our life we may not forget you, but may remember that we are ever walking in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."