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We Can Learn from Each Other as We Explore Faith Together


A stained glass window shows the resurrected Christ surrounded by other images including the Crucifixion and faithful women.

Faith Explored is a virtual community for people of all denominations and backgrounds interested in exploring how to apply God’s Word to our lives today.

 

It is fitting to send out this first post on Easter, the great feast where we celebrate Jesus’s victory over death and resurrection into new life – a life made available to all (Gal. 3:26-28).

 

We are all called to embrace the self-giving sacrifice Jesus modeled for us in His death on the cross (Phil. 2:5-8), and to immerse ourselves in the life He offers to all who follow Him (John 10:10).  The Lord offers us many companions on that journey – other people who believe in Jesus and also seek to follow Him in his death and resurrection (Eph. 2:19-22).

 

Yet often, our spiritual lives are restricted to only those people in our corner of the spiritual world, and we don’t see the multitude of people who embrace Jesus in His death and resurrection.

 

Catholics, Evangelicals, Charismatics

 

My spiritual life has been touched at different points by Catholic, evangelical, and charismatic influences, and I hope that Faith Explored is a place where a wide range of people from diverse backgrounds will feel comfortable.  Each tradition offers valuable perspectives on how to live in the power of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

 

In my own experience, Catholics offer an appreciation of the long sweep of Christian history, a commitment to the totality of Scripture, and an openness to the sound use of our God-given faculty of reason to evaluate competing claims for the truth.  Over the past 150 years, Catholic leaders have developed a powerful set of principles for applying God’s Word to a variety of pressing social issues, to provide justice for all people.

 

Evangelicals offer a deep commitment to the centrality of a personal relationship with Jesus as the foundation of Christian faith.  In addition, they believe we have a calling to tell others about this great gift of life that God has given to us.  In their search for a living faith, they remind us that ritual without relationship misses the heart of God.

 

Charismatics offer a profound experience of the ongoing, immanent work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  They emphasize the importance of being guided by the Spirit at all times and using all of the gifts God has given to us.  They are always ready for the next move of God, and they try to be sensitive to His nudges.

 

These perspectives are not mutually exclusive.  All Christians – all people who have embraced the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus – can find something of value in each of these approaches to faith.

 

Yet sometimes we live in our little corners of God’s universal church, oblivious to or, worse, derogatory toward the things God is saying and doing through these fellow believers with whom we will spend eternity.

 

The Beautiful Variety in the Body of Christ

 

In my Bible Study’s exploration of the Gospel of Matthew, we have seen how Matthew tells the story of Jesus in a way that shows that Jesus cares about all people of all nations (see Matt. 5:24-25, where Matthew lists the wide range of Jewish and Gentile places Jesus will visit in later chapters of his Gospel, and Matt. 20:19, where Jesus extends His outreach to all nations).  (I am gradually posting all of my Matthew study notes in the Bible Study > Matthew section of Faith Explored / www.faithexplored.com, in case you would like to dig into Matthew.  The collection will grow until the entire Gospel is covered.)

 

If Jesus envisioned people of all nations embracing Christianity, he surely did not expect every person to express that faith in exactly the same way.  The very fact that we are all made in the image of God, yet each made as distinct individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, character traits, and gifts, means that we are going to interact with God and reflect God’s character in different ways.

 

This variety in the Body of Christ is not a flaw – it is part of God’s great plan to make billions of children, all made in His image, all living out their calling in different ways and manifesting the reality of God in different ways, and yet (hopefully) all living in harmony with one another to glorify God (John 17:20-21).

 

Billions of believers choose to embrace Jesus’s death yet experience it in different ways.  Billions of believers choose to receive the life of Jesus yet experience it in different ways.  We are like slivers of glass in a great stained-glass window, each showing forth our little piece of God’s work in this world, yet together presenting a much greater reality crafted by God.

 

God invites us to live our lives in such a way that we reflect the glorious image of God in our own ways and also honor the varying ways the image of God is manifested in the people around us.

 

Easter is a great time to embrace this multifaceted nature of the people of God.  Our Orthodox brothers and sisters don’t even agree with Catholics and evangelicals on what day to celebrate Easter.  Yet we share the same commitment to embrace Jesus’s death and life.  Surely that is more important than our differences.

 

This week or this month, perhaps you might find an opportunity to interact with a Christian whose faith is different from yours and ask them what difference Jesus’s resurrection makes in their life.  Be prepared to be blessed by their answer.  You don’t have to agree with everything they say.  Just pay attention to their love for God, their appreciation of what God is doing in their life, their desire to live their lives for the same Jesus you live for.

 

And rejoice that, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, you get to spend eternity with a God who loves so many people of such a vast variety – including you.

 

Faith Explored is Open to All

 

To all Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox, evangelicals, charismatics, Pentecostals, fundamentalists, Brethren, and all other believers — you are all welcome here at Faith Explored.  Inquisitive atheists and agnostics, you are welcome here.  Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and people of every other religion and philosophy, you are welcome here as we explore how the Bible applies to our lives today.

 

Happy Easter to all, regardless of what corner of the spiritual world you tend to hang out in!

 

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