On Faith: Faith in real life, hope in action
Most often, Christians are identified by what separates us. I often get the question, "What denomination (or sect) do you belong to?" Identifying me by my denomination misses the point entirely about who Jesus is and what he has done in my life.
First, there is a lot of misinformation out there about the differences in each denomination. Second, Jesus wasn't big on separating us from each other. In fact, when we read the Gospels, we can see that Christ is interested more in what unites humanity than what divides it. He is consistently restoring and reorienting the viewpoints of people toward the marginalized and the disenfranchised. "Faith," writes the author of Hebrews, "shows us the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see." (Hebrews 11.1, New Living Translation)
For the Christ-follower, the things that we hope for are lived out in our faith. We hope to see those that are marginalized and disenfranchised restored to relationship with God, and we are commanded to live that out. This means that when the body of Christ is divided among denominational lines or by pet theologies that only serve those that are already counted as "in" we damage our ability to bring hope to the world through the way we live our lives.
For the Christ-follower, hope is a word that spurs us to action, as we help others to see how faith in Christ restored our hope and our faith in humanity. I know that many Christians, including myself, have some shortcomings. Sometimes, we do not accurately represent the hope that Christ brings to the world around us. For me, I pray that you will see past my failings and instead see the grace that Christ has brought into my life.
At OneLife Community Church, we believe that people need to live out faith in real life. This simply means that our lives outside of the four walls of our church are so much more important than our behavior inside the four walls of the church. We are called to demonstrate the grace that has saved us and sustains us as we live our everyday lives. If you call yourself a follower of Christ, but your life does not reflect his grace, I challenge you to begin a journey that examines your actions and your motives for following Jesus.
If you don't currently attend a church, but want to know what it looks like to live out your faith in real life, we invite you join us as we undertake this journey together. We meet on Sunday mornings at 10AM and you can find us on the web at www.onelifecc.tv or on Facebook at onelifeccmn.
On Faith is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders. The Rev. Jason Standfield is the Lead Pastor at OneLife Community Church in the North Shore neighborhood of Duluth. Pastor Jason holds a Master's Degree in Theology and Culture from Northwest University and is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God.