This morning Monty spoke at some length and with great passion about the voice of God. Through people, through writing, through a person. And it’s not what is said or what is written, but what is done and what actually and simply is.
This is a key point of the Christian religion. That it is God-become-man, experiencing a life limited by time and space, limited by a body which cannot do all things at once, limited by an experience bounded by sunrise and sunset, limited by the people who have their own viewpoints and desires, who live lives by their own lights and hoping—at moments—to be using their lives for things that are important and eternal.
The life of faith in Jesus of Nazareth is at once an ordinary life and an extraordinary life. In the ordinary, it is obedience and trust and peace. It is doing what needs to be done at the moment, to one’s fullest efforts, and it is doing so with the peace that this day has enough troubles and enough to do without worrying for tomorrow’s concerns. (Just a note in passing: taking care of today’s problems today doesn’t mean ignoring the fact that tomorrow will arrive with its own problems, and that by acting today we can forestall tomorrow’s problems; it simply means that we don’t have to carry more burden than is required for today. Rather than thinking “I cannot bear this burden for the next ten years” we can think “I might be able to bear this for the next ten minutes; and if not, I can get grace, I think, for those next ten minutes.”)
In the extraordinary—faith is something that impels us to change into something we didn’t expect, and to become someone we haven’t yet seen: the changed person with the changed life. Were we to remain in our ordinary lives, simply working with today’s problems today, we are existing, which is fine. But then we are not changing and becoming something more. Faith is something that pulls us into a different life, a life that is bigger than our circumstances or our understanding. Faith is something that has led men and women in past ages to change their ages. Faith is something that strikes someone at a moment and gives them insight that they, themselves, can act in such a way as to change the course of history.
I get it that people think that Christianity is like any other religion, or that it is only a religion. It is that—a religion. It has its rites and rituals. It has a tradition of belief and a way of worship; it has a body of believers and an external world that doesn’t understand; it has teachings and systemic theologies; like any religion it has true believers and uncertain sympathizers; it has rifts and splits and fights. It shows its connection to humanity in that Christianity is just like us: full of imperfection and full of hope.
But there is this one unique thing among other religions today: it is centered in a man, Jesus, who is the fullness of God in human form. Not a system of just beliefs and traditions. Not just warnings and commandments, rules and rituals. Not just ideals and failure. But someone who became someone just like us, and who promises to make us—one day—perfectly like he is, a complete human.
This is what makes it unique for us, and the most satisfying “religion.” It is worth losing one’s religion of beliefs to find this faith in a person.