mindGrazing

chewing ideas down to stubble, then moving on…

Posts Tagged ‘faith’

I have faith, now what?

Posted by Jason on February 4, 2009

Wifey and I have been taking a Methodism 101 class at church, and I must confess that I really didn’t know how Methodist I truly was at my core until Wifey came along and started going to church with me. We had a good conversation on the way to the farmer’s market after our class this Sunday, and I started reading Wesley’s “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection” this week. Throughout our conversations and my reading, I finally have something to write about on this blog. It’s been a while.

One of the things we always hear Christians say is that so-and-so is having a crisis of faith, or that somebody has a faith that can move mountains, etc. For me, my faith in the grace of God is a non-question. I know in my heart of hearts, without any doubt whatsoever, that His grace is given freely to me and ALL humans without any precondition, without any worthiness on our part, without any action on our part. Our confession of faith is our personal belief, acceptance, and realization of this grace, and that’s what makes us Christian instead of Buddhist or Muslim or whatever. Knowing that grace is given freely, not because of anything we do, really liberates us as Christians to stop worrying about whether or not we will be saved or if we’ll end up in heaven or hell. It also frees us from worrying whether other people are going to heaven or hell. We don’t have to hound people to get their acts together in order that we may end up in heaven together.

Now, having received that grace and having accepted this wonderful gift into our lives, our response should be to live out our lives in gratitude for that which has been given to us. Most of all, we must be instruments of that freely given love and grace in the world. We do good things not to get ourselves into heaven or to gain the Lord’s favor, but rather BECAUSE these things are already ours.

That being said, I came to the realization last night that my daily life has not included as much thankful living (meaning being a living example of God’s grace) as it could. I think the major reason is that I have not internalized the practice of living thankfully as an adult. I’ve internalized the faith, and it’s a part of me forever. It is welded to my being. However, I need to consciously practice the “living it out” part. Now, I think the feeling will always be that I’m not doing as much as I could. The tendency is to reciprocate the gift that has been given to us. How many people have thought around the holidays, “Shoot, this person’s gift to me was super expensive: I better get them something about as good as what they gave to me?” The problem is that it is impossible to give God or humankind a gift as amazing as that which was given to us. 

As with anything that we want to learn or incorporate into our box of skills or behaviors, we have to practice a lot. this practice must be focused and it must be repeated over and over. Eventually it will become a habit and then it will be internalized as something that we just do. Now, some people will make excuses for me, saying, “Oh, well your act of kindness, Jason, is that you teach music to poor, underprivileged waifs every day,” or “You’ve done such a nice thing by giving  two shelter dogs a good home and a happy life.” Those are great, but they’re not really daily, radical, and intentional manifestations of God’s grace within me. There needs to be more. I need to find some way to consciously and systematically do good in this world each day, perhaps multiple times per day, so that it will eventually become a basic internal function of my existence.

I might try to incorporate one of Wesley’s Means of Grace (Works of Piety; Works of Mercy) each day and see if I can do that. Or I’ll just try to do at least one nice thing each day that I normally wouldn’t do. I’m still formulating a plan of action but the goal is to take action in the world to bring God’s kingdom here, rather than merely look forward to the next life.

Onward, Christian soldier…

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Poll: What Kind of Christian Are You?

Posted by Jason on January 8, 2009

I know there’s a million types of quizzes that can show you your spiritual leanings or what religion/denomination you should be. I’d like to offer a chance for self-reflection here. John Wesley talks about our relationships with God being a balance of four areas of our life. It’s been dubbed the Wesleyan Quadrilateral by many a theologian. The four things, according to Wesley, that make up a spiritual relationship are Scripture, Tradition, Reason, and Experience.

Now, I tend to have a pretty cerebral view of religious things, and I’m real big on grazing on ideas, no matter if they oppose my own beliefs, in my head or with friends. I don’t really care for the Christianity that is all about feelings of blessedness,etc. (experience), or all about infallible scripture. Obviously, my strongest side in the quadrilateral would be the Reason side. 

If you had to pick the most important thing to you and your faith, would it be 

Scripture, Tradition, Reason, or Experience?

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Pay It Forward

Posted by Jason on December 23, 2008

I went to the nursery the other day to pick up a bag of worms for wifey’s worm compost bin. I poked around some of the bonsai plants just to see what they had, and then I went to pick up my $15 bag of worms. The manager of the nursery started to ring me up and then just said, “Eh, you’re all set. Merry Christmas. Pass it on.” 

“Really?”

“Yeah, pay it forward.”

“Wow, thanks a bunch. I will pass it on! Merry Christmas!”

And that was it. I got a $15 bag of worms for free. Now I’m going to pass it on somehow. I’m not quite sure how. I did help some friends of ours move for like 11 hours yesterday. But that’s pretty much what friends do for each other. I think it would be a cop out to count that as my paying it forward. Maybe I should just keep doing nice things and not worry about when I’m paid up or not. That sounds like a better plan.

I got to thinking this morning about this whole thing, and I don’t do religious pondering very often on my own, but this whole pay it forward business really encapsulates my views on faith, works, and grace. The nursery lady was ridiculously nice to me for no good reason, and now I’m looking to do good stuff for other people (in addition to continuing my patronage of her nursery) purely out of gratitude for the good thing that was done for me. The gift of grace, given by God through Jesus Christ, was ours when we really didn’t -and still don’t, in my case- deserve it one bit. When we act in accordance with Jesus’ teachings, it’s out of gratitude for that gift of grace. Faith comes in because we believe that this wondrous gift has been given to the world, which includes us. 

Now I know this isn’t fleshed out and it’s not theologically perfect, but the free bag of worms provides a nice little illustration of what I truly believe, in a concise little way.

Merry Christmas, and do something nice for somebody else!

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