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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

exclusive faith

Many times I hear phrases like going "growing deeper in faith" and "personal relationship with Jesus." These words are meant to communicate the "way" that an individual is following in their faith journey. It is in my opinion that these phrases have come to express a certain type of spirituality that can sometimes be exclusive in practice. More to the point; when I ask "What does God want in my life?" we recognize two people in this statement, (myself and God). The statement taken as itself does not recognize the other. The statement elevates the sole relationship between the individual and God as significant. It is dangerous to have such a selfish relationship as Jesus recognized a tri-fold relationship that the individual is to have in life.

Practically speaking I see that these statements manifest themselves in Christians who attend Bible studies but do not help the poor. I see Christians who go to community prayer meetings but do nothing for those whom the larger community has caused to be disenfranchised. This is a faith that is solipsistic in nature and perpetuates the social and economic inequalities that pervade society.

When asked what was the greatest commandment Jesus said something like ‘Love your God with all your being, and Love you neighbor as you would yourself.’ This statement is difficult because it imposes responsibility on the “what does God want in my life?” question. Suddenly if we take the statements at the beginning of the post and see it in light of “The Greatest Commandment”, we see that one cannot live in exclusively “me and God” mode. Jesus puts it another way

"Then the king will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prision and you visited me... Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me'" (Matthew 25:34-40)

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