Acts of Faith (Love God/Personal)
We focus on our personal relationship with Jesus and the care of our souls. Acts of faith are private spiritual disciplines such as prayer, reading scriptures, and inward examination that bring us face to face with God most directly when no one else is present.
Human beings naturally think in dualistic terms – who is in and who is out. It makes it easier when we can label people and not have to deal with actually getting to know them or their story. Sociologists call these “boundary markers.” Who is in and who is out? Who is acceptable and who is unacceptable? Who is a sheep and who is a goat? Who is bad and who is good?
In Jesus’ teachings, he focused not on boundary markers (diet, Sabbath keeping, circumcision) but rather on the center-point of the spiritual life. When asked to summarize his movement, he simply said, “Love God, love people.”
When someone receives God’s forgiveness and moves in the direction of loving God and loving people – they are the Kingdom of God people. People who look like they are a million miles away: tax collectors, prostitutes – who turn toward Jesus and love are in.
Jesus’ way of viewing the world is focused on the heart. At CrossPoint, Jesus is the center. Some people are getting closer and some people are moving away from the center:
One can have a title that sounds pious or a position in the church world and be moving away from Jesus. One could be a total outsider but moving toward Jesus. Only the individual knows if they are trying to get closer to Jesus or if they are just phoning it in and going through the motions. A person’s position has nothing to do with whether or not they are moving closer or moving further away.
The question is not about distance; it is about direction.
But individual spiritual transformation doesn’t just happen because we are pointed in the right direction. Acts of Faith are the practices that help us to continue to move toward spiritual transformation.
Acts of Faith are the difference between “trying” (being pointed in the right direction) and “training” (moving toward the center, or Christ-likeness).
John Ortberg, in his book, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, illustrates the difference:
Imagine a group of people coming to your home and interrupting your Twinkie-eating, TV-watching routine with an urgent message: “Good News! We’re from the United States Olympic Committee. We have been looking for someone to run the marathon in the next Olympics…We have determined that out of two hundred million people, you are the one person in American with a chance to bring back the gold medal in the marathon. So you are on the squad. You will run the race. This is the chance of a lifetime.”
You are surprised by this because the farthest you have ever run is from the couch to the refrigerator. But after the first shock passes, you are gripped by the realization of what is happening in your life. You picture yourself mingling with the elite athletes of the world. You allow yourself to imagine that maybe you do have what it takes. At night you dream about standing on the podium after the race and hearing the national anthem, seeing the flag raised, and bending low to receive the gold medal…
Then it dawns on you: Right now you cannot run a marathon. More to the point, you cannot run a marathon even if you try really, really hard. Trying hard can accomplish only so much. If you are serious about seizing this chance of a lifetime, you will have to enter into a life of training. You must arrange your life around certain practices that will enable you to do what you cannot do now by willpower alone. When it comes to running a marathon, you must train, not merely try.
Training is required not just for athletes but for any significant challenge in life: playing an instrument, learning a new language, running a business, and – most importantly – being a part of God’s movement in Boise.