Christians by profession
What are you by profession? A question that is posed quite often. Competence and expertise are called for here. But how is it in our faith? Do we not also need a certain kind of aptitude in order to be perceived as Christians?
We become Christian through baptism—that is the fundamental prerequisite. So the church tells us. Yet that is not all! Faith and works are also part of Christian life! Christianity needs to be lived in practice, tried and tested, and understood. For this reason, a person’s training and constant practice must in some cases continue for a whole lifetime. And again and again Christians need to be reminded that pious words and perfect church attendance, or the fulfilment of the divine commandments right down to the last iota, will not suffice. A good Christian is always a Christian, every day, and with all his heart.
That sounds like reason enough to preach about this subject in the divine services of the New Apostolic Church. In the month of August, the services will be captioned by the motto “Faith in practice”. The intent behind this is clear: our faith is not to be a theoretical matter, but rather be practised in word and deed in daily life.
Faith leads to decisions
First example: the account of the healing of a paralytic at the pool of Bethesda—one of those miracle accounts in the New Testament. For 38 years a man sits there at the edge of the pool in hopes of finding help—but always without receiving any! We must try to imagine this for a moment! “When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?’” So we read succinctly enough in John 5: 6. He looked at this disappointed, hopeless, frustrated man—and acted.
The story can easily be applied to us personally as Christians. Today too, there are signs of disappointment, hopelessness, and fatigue in our Christianity. So many things seem so ingrained, so withdrawn, and there hardly seems to be any more growth in faith. When was the last time we really took joy in God? And what is the reason for that? Naturally, it is always someone else: the quality of the sermon is not good enough, the ministers are not doing their job properly, some of the members get on our nerves, and so on. We cannot simply resign ourselves to such forms of spiritual paralysis, however. It is time to act! The Lord desires to heal us—and He can heal us—just as He helped the paralysed man at the time after 38 years!
Faith creates trust in God
Second example: without faith in Jesus Christ there is no justification before God. Justification by faith means that it is not by our works that we can please God or stand before Him, but by the trust we show Him. Such a faith comes to practical expression in following Christ. Believing Christians are prepared to suffer with Jesus in order to fulfil the will of God and love their neighbour. Trust in God and His promises means we can do without proof or insurance.
Faith is meant to be shared
Third example: faith requires listeners and is not a private matter. Public profession is an inevitable response to it. Those who believe are not silent about their faith, but seek to share it with others. Christians act. Their faith prompts them to act, prompts them to perform works of love for their neighbour. A serious faith is always visible to others.
Faith will be fulfilled
Fourth example: to feel secure in the hand of God in daily life, particularly in difficult situations, constitutes a good faith. We trust in God, we follow His paths, we remain faithful to Him, and we hold fast to the teachings of the gospel. Faith and trust will ultimately find their reward: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward” (Hebrews 10: 35).
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