Wednesday, January 25, 2012

1 of 3: Faith + Works

It comes down to this: I am a hardcore deconstructionist Protestant. My theology begins and ends with the Cross and expresses itself with the term πίστη μόνο (písti móno)... better known in its Latin form sola fide ("faith alone")... but the words of the Book of James about this issue ("faith without works is dead") have been resonating anew in my spirit. I cannot ever see myself abandoning my písti móno theological bedrock, but it seems to me that I have a new understanding: salvation by faith-alone is only real when it shows itself through good works.

I don't think this really conflicts or contradicts the písti móno doctrine per se. The key is how Pastor Melissa Scott phrases it: once we have accepted the deposit of the Holy Spirit into our otherwise empty and cracked vessel, we will be driven to do good works. Ok, this makes sense.

And it provides the framework for what I did yesterday. Tuesday 1/25/2012. I drove from San Leandro to San Leandro... by way of Long Beach and Glendora. Why on Earth did I do this? I did it because two friends of mine needed my help and one of their pets, an adorable cat named Captain Jack (aka "CJ"), needed to move from Long Beach to a home where he will be fostered indefinitely.

The amazing thing is that CJ's foster-home is with a woman who I had not met in person until I arrived on her doorstep in Glendora. And my friends have never met her. This awesome Christian woman, acting on FAITH ALONE, who is a friend-of-a-friend, literally 48 hours beforehand, stepped forward to make this happen.

The coming-together of different threads here is simply, indescribably, beautiful. The words of Jesus in John 12 have been resonating in my heart lately... where He speaks that when He is "lifted up" He will draw all people toward Him. It's an amazing image. Yet, in the original Κοινή the verb is even more pointed. The verb is ὑψόω (hoopsá-oh)... a better wording would be exalted or even held up as a shining light for all time (that's my intensified wording).

It is amazing to me to ponder... the more I examine my personal theology, the more I learn about the Greek language, the more I realize: I truly am a Pentecostal Christian. I guess donkeys do fly, after all.

Ok then... but... this is where things get hairy: I see a number of people in my life saying "I get it" about faith, and yet, when God presents them a chance to step forward in faith and spread the love of Jesus Christ through action towards those who are in need, those very same people revert to form by thinking only of their own welfare -- and thereby functionally they are claiming personal Lordship over the love of the Holy Spirit for themselves. Why, God oh why, can they not see: the gift of the Holy Spirit only grows into maturity when we allow it to flow through us to the next person who needs to be liberated and freed from bondage? When will they see that the freedom bought for us on the Cross asks once thing of us and one thing alone: love your fellow refugees and let the world know us by our love for one another! How can you claim to be doing that when you sit back and remain so focused on yourself that you ignore the pain in front of you that you can help relieve?

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?
Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago?
Where have all the flowers gone?
Young girls have picked them everyone.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

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