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Finding Faith in Faith

This blog is dedicated to exploring the intersections of faith and politics, the intricacies of religious culture and the struggle to balance devotion to a higher being and to oneีs culture.

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Name: jrichard

Thursday, May 08, 2003

The Dangers of Isolating Spiritual Gifts

The main reason I am curious about the definitions and the meanings of different words and roles is that many in the church today seem to hold a very restrictive view of how they are to implement their faith in their lives.

The main thrust of my concern is I get the sense that we resist the gospels' call by justifying our limited role in the grand scheme of things.

For example, I knew many from ACU who would say that they are not called to be teachers and preachers (either literally or figuratively). If they had been (they argue), they would have been driven into the College of Biblical Studies instead of the College of Business or wherever they were pursuing a degree. It's a variation on the "that's not my gift" justification we often use to excuse ourselves from work we don't want to do.

And I guess the thing that troubles me is that we feel that only certain people with certain aptitudes are called to do the heavy lifting of our spiritual mission. We often leave those functions to elders, deacons or church staff. And we justify this by saying that's their job, or that's their calling or whatever.

Or we'll say "Jesus commands that we leave everything behind," and immediately follow that up with "But we're not called to do that today, because that wouldn't make sense" or "not everyone is called to do that, only a few are."

And I guess the problem for me is that we appear to focus on occupation and function, and that's just not the way I read the Bible. Of the twelve, one was professionally suited for his role in the group, and ironically (or perhaps not), that was the one who betrayed Jesus in the end. Or at least the one who betrayed him the worst.

Paul is the closest thing we see to a professional theologian in the early Christian movement. But he appears to be the exception to the rule. These guys were the lowest qualified members of society.

I just feel like we seem to often rationalize taking a superficial poke at our faith by redefining our role. The truth is that each of us is far more educated than any of the twelve apostles. We are wealthier, have access to better resources and have devoted far more time to learning what it means to be a disciple than any of those men.

And in Mark's account, Jesus gives them authority and a commission with very little preparation or exposure to the kind of teaching we've received.

And the return argument may be that those men saw Jesus, and that gives them a higher status. But I suspect that Jesus would cringe at such an inference. I think Jesus fought off such inferences that the apostles made.

I guess I still feel that we still have the remnant of a cultural arrogance to our faith. We've lost some of the radicalness in our relationships and I'm just wondering if that makes us just an extension of the Jewish culture that Jesus fought against so mightily.

I personally think there is no difference between us and the apostles. Or if there is, it's that they heeded their calling and we do not.

Just something I'm wrestling with. And the context of this fundamental argument will eventually be how I apply the great commission in a contemporary setting.

But I'm not there yet.