Friday, April 15, 2005

Faith Isn't an Intellectual Exercise

I listened yesterday to a sermon by Tony Campolo called "Would Jesus Drive a BMW?" and I’m also reading his latest book called Speaking My Mind. I really love the sermon itself and agree with a lot of what Campolo says in the book. Not all, but that’s a different subject.

At any rate, one of the things that hit me about Campolo’s talk was the passion he had about mission and about a life divorced from the conspicuous consumption of American life. This is something I’ve been thinking about some and still trying to figure out where I am on that and how far I want to go.

The other thing that really hit me was him talking about assenting to theological ideas about Jesus. That just believing things about Jesus isn’t what the Christian life is about. Now, many of you may be saying, "Well… duh." But for some reason this just hit me.

A lot of my faith over the last year or so and has been about trying to decide what I believe about Jesus and Christianity. What I don’t feel like is that I’ve done a great job of putting feet on my faith. I feel like I decided to believe certain things, but that’s the extent of it. I don’t feel like I have made any big changes in myself or how I act or even how I treat others. I still struggle with some of the same sins I’ve had my entire life.

Faith isn’t an intellectual exercise. It’s a life. As it’s called in Acts, The Way. It means a shift away from a world that values money over character, flash over substance. It’s a call to love the unlovable, to be more concerned for others than myself. These are things I agree with. What am I willing to do to make them happen in my life?

I listened to another talk the other day from the Mars Hill Bible Church (Easter Stories) in Grand Rapids. One lady was testifying about her struggles with eating disorders. She said that she finally truly felt freedom when she realized that the solution wasn’t turning her problems over to Jesus; it was turning herself over to Jesus. Only giving our problems says that the rest of our lives are ok. They’re not; they need resurrection, almost on a daily basis.

I want to be there, but I’m not sure I’m there yet. I want to live that way, but I think I’m scared of what that could mean.


Tony Arnold said...

Excellent post today Phil. I completely relate to your situation. I have made major changes to my understanding and belief of Christian Discipleship. However, I catch myself accepting my new beliefs and understanding as real change, when in actually there has been little change--little movement from the head to the body. I can say that I have had a major, positive attitude change on a daily basis. But this will be useless if it does not translate into grace driven action.

Thanks for the challenge.

Jana said...

Really good post, Phil.

And I'll pass on the breakfast burritos from McDonald's. Actually, I think I'll just pass on McD's altogether.

Fajita said...

pondering many of the same things myself. Peace.

c said...

about consumerism....i heard a story today on the news about a couple selling HIS ESSENCE, a candle that "smells like Jesus." i mean, what the crap. and it doesn't even smell like a homeless person. and these WWJD braclets. we have not only been in bed with consumeristic America, but we must realize we're sleeping with our sibling, Christianity. what the hell did i just write...sorry about that that. disregard that weird statement.

doing theology aint easy dude. i'm a struggling pilgram as well.

judy thomas said...


I think faith is reality TV--rubber- meets- the- road kind of thing with everybody watching. It's dirty (because of all the people you have to touch); it's gritty (because of the 24-7 demands made by your response to God's love; it's not black and white like your mother's faith--it's gray with all kinds of questions coming up. In short, it is not easy, doesn't come automatically, and you don't have a halo when it grows. But boy, is growth ever worth it!

Phil said...

Judy, I'm going to start officially refering to you as "BlogMom." Thanks for that post and the realism of it.

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