Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Which comes first belonging to Jesus or believing in Jesus John 10:22-30?

Which comes first belonging to Jesus or believing in Jesus?
It's a chicken or egg kind of question. I can't figure it out myself—and I don't know if I should be able to either. Maybe its the kind of question that's best to come back to later because it isn't the main question we should be asking. Maybe it's time to hear Jesus' words of promise in John 10:27 again. This is Jesus himself speaking to and knowing his sheep. And his sheep, Jesus says, will recognize his voice.
Many generations of young people have been encouraged to study and prepare for tests about the faith. And as these generations have studied and learned the facts have slowly at first and now very rapidly left the church it's become clear that the point of faith has been lost.  Faith is being in the flock Jesus spoke about in John 10:27-30.
Faith is more than facts—its trust, confidence in God to save: Theologian Diana Butler Bass tells of her 13 year old daughter wondering about her place in the church. The girl was in a confirmation class which would end with an exam. Her daughter wondered what would happen if she failed the test. Would that mean she wouldn't get confirmed—and more importantly would that mean she didn't have a place in the church. Her theologian mom was upset—passing a test isn't the point of the Christian faith—trusting in God is.
For generations American Evangelicals have battled between Arminian and Calvinist positions. Arminians insisting that humans act first choosing to believe and Calvinists insisting that God acts first selecting those who would come to faith. And maybe in this debate many have simply missed the mystery of how faith works and the wonder of Christ coming to save.
Faith is confidence in Christ. It is trust in the shepherd who is trustworthy before we ever trust in him. In the end maybe following and believe come together as David Lose suggests. Maybe this is the true organic nature of Christian faith. We aren't the only ones involved--Christ is the one leading and calling us to follow. For the Good Shepherd I give thanks today.
Pax, John

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