Learning from others

Knowing that someone with experience is nearby is invaluable. Drawing on their knowledge and ability often saves you from having to make your own futile attempts at something. This is called coaching, and coaching also works in our faith.

Can you drive a nail into a cement wall? “I can’t imagine that” does not mean that something is not going to work. This often-heard sentence only really describes the limited view we humans have. None of us can see around the corner. And when it comes to our faith in Jesus Christ, in eternal life, or the resurrection, our purely rational ideas are doomed to fail. The things that we as humans have not experienced ourselves are beyond our comprehension. And the formula according to which our faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11: 1) does not only sound complicated, but is complicated. Faith will always be challenged, which is why it is good to take advantage of the experiences of others and to adopt horizons of knowledge that others have already discovered.

It is no coincidence that the sermons in the month of October have the theme “Experiences of faith”. On three consecutive Sundays, the congregations will be introduced to a series of biblical experiences, each of which will serve as a valuable example. These, of course, want to be put into practice!

Experience #1: Do not allow yourself to be separated from God!

How often does Scripture tell us that man should not run away from His God! And yet we do it time and again, especially when things are bad. Experience teaches, however, that those who stay close to God are better off. For God is help, hope, and above all, life.

Jesus foretold His disciples at the time that they would be scattered. And indeed, they withdrew, left Him, and even denied Him when push came to shove. When He was arrested, they ran off. Peter supposedly did not know Him, and two disciples left Jerusalem and made their way to Emmaus. What conclusion do we Christians draw from this today? Let us stay with the Lord even in times of dispersion. He wants to save us. This is worth a learning experience.

Experience #2: Share what you have with others!

“And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way,” it says in Matthew 15: 32. The verse describes a scene from the Sermon on the Mount and expresses God’s love and compassion for the people. Jesus saw the need of the listening congregation, had compassion, and fed thousands. He taught His disciples to pray for daily bread, but not out of selfishness and their own survival, but to help them think of and see their neighbour who needs help.

Following the example of Jesus is therefore a Christian virtue: being grateful for that which God gives us and, at the same time, recognising the possibility of helping others. The believing Christian must not ignore the poverty and neediness of his neighbour. On the contrary, good works testify of faith and make it recognisable; they proclaim the gospel in deed.

Experience #3: Listen to your conscience!

Paul had been accused by the Sanhedrin and had been brought before Felix, the Roman governor. A gripping story. He was accused of high treason and desecrating the temple. However, Paul defended himself and managed to refute all charges that had been brought against him by pointing out that he acted on the basis of the law and the prophets. For him it was a matter of conscience to follow his Lord Jesus Christ, even if his own life would be threatened.

We, the Christians of today, are also reminded by the voice of our conscience that we should act truthfully and justly. Man has always known that it is not good to act against one’s own conscience. Our inner voice tells us what is good and evil, right and wrong. Such experiences are not theoretical, but have often been made. And of all the famous dead personalities who have conquered humanity with their hearts and magnanimity, the ones we remember most fondly are those who acted according to their conscience. “All human beings carry within themselves an awareness of the will of God–all of them possess such a conscience,” the Catechism says. Conscience is “as a gift which mankind has received from God. If the conscience is governed by reason and faith, it assists mankind in acting wisely” (CNAC

And yes, you can drive a nail into a concrete wall: it depends on the nail.

Photo: cnky photography - stock.adobe.com

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Peter Johanning
Divine service