Archive for Saturday, February 18, 2012

Faith Forum: Can faith be ‘all consuming’?

February 18, 2012

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The Rev. Gary Teske, pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, 1245 N.H.:

In one sense, one’s faith should be all consuming.

In the scriptures (Matthew 5:13-14 and Luke 13:21), God’s people are called to be “salt,” “light” and “yeast.” Salt is meant to be mixed in with all the ingredients of a food dish to make it taste good and yeast is meant to be kneaded in with all other ingredients of a loaf of bread in order to make it turn out right. And, of course, unless one is using a laser, light floods out from its source, illuminating not just certain things but everything that is near it, revealing danger and delight, the ugly and the beautiful.

I believe God seeks to make the entirety of our lives to be a blessing to the entirety of the world.

I would hope that faithful people would be consumed with the work of “doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly before God (Micah 6). I would hope that people of faith would strive to “love the neighbor as one’s self” (Mark 12) with their whole being, while praying or playing, when teaching Sunday school or public school.

However, understood differently, an “all-consuming faith” can be a bad thing. It can mean that people are so focused on “consuming” only that which is explicitly religious that they fail to see and savor the signs of God’s goodness and activity in what they would regard as the “secular” realm. It can reflect a prejudice against all things that do not bear the proper religious label and be an impediment to responding to God’s call to love the “world.”

In that case, an all-consuming faith can be like eating pure salt, consuming the leaven without the bread, or being so blinded by the light that they stumble through the world causing great harm to themselves and to others.

— Send e-mail to Gary Teske at gteske@tlclawrence.org.

The Rev. Paul Gray, senior pastor, New Life in Christ, 619 Vt.:

It depends who or what your faith is in.

Jesus Christ gives us his own faith. His faith knows that God is love (1 John 4:8,16). That’s his DNA. His love is agape-love, meaning it always does what’s best for the other person (although we don’t always understand that). His love is unconditional — meaning we can’t earn it, lose it, increase or decrease it. His love is forever. His love encompasses who he is — starting with grace and truth. By his grace, he has already forgiven all the sins of the world — everyone!

And he made the irrevocable decision to take them completely away, never think about them, and not hold them against anybody. He calls that Good News!

God loved us so much before he even created us, that he chose us to be in relationship with him (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) forever, so he can lavish his love, grace, joy, peace, and much more on us 24-7, 366 — forever.

So, being in a personal, supernatural relationship with a God like this who makes it clear in his love letter to me that he loves me with his kind of love, it’s almost comical to think that “faith in him” could be anything other than all consuming!

Does that mean I stand on the corner and preach or that every sentence I utter includes “Praise God!”? No! It does mean I enjoy his presence as I drive, shop, play jazz music for a dance at the American Legion on Thursday evenings, watch the ’Hawks, hang out with old friends, shovel snow, celebrate good times and everything else!

— Send email to Paul Gray at paul@newlifelawrence.com.

Comments

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 5 months ago

I think that faith can be ‘all consuming’ in one way, and that is a good thing.

For instance, you are demonstrating an example of proper behavior whenever someone is observing you. This is especially true when you are around younger people that are easily influenced, and will tend to follow the examples that others have set for them.

John Chapter 13, verse 15: "For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you."

So whenever you are around other people, it should be an 'all consuming' thing for you to set a good example for others to follow.

But as far as preaching goes, keep your mouth shut unless someone wants to hear it. Everyone has already heard enough of that.

“Actions speak louder than words.” or “Actions are more significant than words.” - first published by Gersham Bulkeley in 1692. That is a very old proverb. Versions of it date to ancient Greece.

“Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” - St. Francis of Assisi

Lawrence Morgan 3 years, 5 months ago

I like Ron Holzwarth's comments.

I also very much like this series, and hope that many more interviews with ministers of all faiths will take place in the future.

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