Posts Tagged ‘faith’

The Awakening of Hope

I have just finished reading a book called ‘The Awakening of Hope’ by a friend of ours named Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove which looks to address the question ‘Why we Practice a Common Faith’ by focusing on seven ancient practices/disciplines and this excerpt on faith and conversion really stood out for me:

‘No one gets to start from scratch. But each of us, from within the story we’ve received, decides whether we will continue to trust what we’ve first received or inhabit a different story. This decision is what we usually call “faith.”

The Bible says that faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen [Hebrews 11.1, KJV].
Faith is what we trust for those questions that we cannot know the answer to, for the presuppositions that undergird whatever story we call our own. In the modern world we are in the habit of thinking that faith matters for our personal and religious lives. When we talk about “people of faith,” we usually refer to people who are committed Muslims or Buddhists, Jews or Christians. On the other hand, we usually assume that what matters in economics and politics, science and medicine is facts, not faith. Religion is about what we believe while science is about what we know.

But good scientists agree with the woman in Sarah’s writing seminar that whatever we know (including the facts), we know within a story that we have chosen to trust. That is, we are all people of faith. Of course, doubt plays a role in the pursuit of truth for scientists, just as it does for theologians. But none of us can ever doubt everything. Whether the truth we seek is best described as scientific or religious, our pursuit of it depends on holding experience up against the story we assume to be true. In science, when the facts demand a new story to explain how they can all be true, we call that necessary change a “paradigm shift.” When the facts of our lives cry out for a story that can help us tell the truth about ourselves, we call it “conversion.”

For Jesus, the invitation to welcome God’s story is a call to conversion: “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent ad believe the good news” [Mark 1.15]. To trust that what Jesus says about the world is true is to, quite literally, have a change of mind. This conversion – this paradigm shift – does not invalidate the truth of the story that came before it. In calling God’s people to conversion, Jesus says, “Do not think I have come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.” The new story that Jesus brings incorporates the truth of the old, offering both a framework for understanding what we knew before and a lens for seeing truth we could not recognise within our old story.
Even so, the only way people who have inhabited one story can learn to trust another is to experience a change of mind.’
We must be “born again,” as Jesus says to Nicodemus in John’s gospel [3.3] Or, more literally, we must be reconceived from above.” That is to say, conversion is about reimagining our human story from the place that Jesus starts His – not with the mixing of two human stories, but with the miraculous union of God’s story and a human story.’

[from the chapter ‘Why we share good news’ from the book ‘The Awakening of Hope’ by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove]

[for next Thursday’s A Most Powerful Message, click here]
[for last Thursday’s How’s Your Heart, click here]

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Thursday = Thirsty – this will be an aspect of spiritual enrichment or challenge – whether it is postings of a Psalmthing blog i am currently scribing or a Gospel of Mark video clip i have been making or else just an aspect of following Jesus in terms of loving God, loving people and being personally involved in some aspect of actively loving the ‘least of these’ I will be looking to encourage or challenge people in their relationship with God and the world.

big God

I often use this idea when speaking about God’s Love, but the exact same thing works when talking about the size of God. As you read this, you might be in a space where God is feeling small or so very far away or even non-existent and I want to reassure you that God is bigger! You might be in a space where you are feeling very close to God and He seems absolutely huge and present in your life and just so real… well to you I say, that God is bigger!

God, who created the Universe in a breath [whether it took him six literal days, or six million doesn’t take away from His awesomeness] is bigger than you and I [with our puny little human-sized brains] will ever be able to come close to realising, until that day when we stand in front of Him.

This passage from Ephesians 3.14-21 [which contains so much stuff, take time reading every verse] emphasises one aspect of that bigness really well.

‘For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’

See that last part where it says this God who is ABLE TO DO IMMEASURABLY MORE THAN ALL WE ASK OR IMAGINE… that gives us a taste both of the size of God, and also perhaps a hint of His desire. And I often wonder if our mistake is that we ask or imagine too small. Because we view God as a human-sized God, in whatever boxes, understandings and theologies we choose to confine Him in, we offer Him human sized asks and imaginings.

I once stood in front of a crowd of people, and, prompted by God, challenged individuals to stand forward and share something impossible that God had put on their hearts. One of the guys who stepped forward in faith started off a chain reaction of faith and prayer and obedience that resulted in a home that was created as a safe home for children from really difficult situations. He asked and imagined big, as did a number of people who gathered around him [including the beautiful lady who would eventually become my wife!] and they watched God do what God already had in mind to do. And it was incredible!

What are you asking for?
What are you imagining for?

If it is focused on you or on acquiring wealth or a great name or some expensive toys or experiences, then that is a very small dream. But if it is focused on the kingdom of God and if it has been prompted by His Holy Spirit [which will happen if you spend time talking to Him and giving Him space to talk to you] then it will be massive. [Not by our standards – it might mean affecting one person – but by God’s.]

He is able to do immeasurably more than all we can hope or imagine.
That is the God I serve. And I hope you do too. That God is faithful.
Will you give Him a chance?

[for next Thursday’s Loving God means Loving Them, click here]
[for last Thursday’s Why It’s Called Good Friday, click here]