amy courts: en route


Somewhere Between Truth and Faith
December 22, 2008, 6:55 pm
Filed under: Culture

We are a middle generation. A generation dancing somewhere between the fundamentalist foundation of our Baby Boomer parents and the “new” direction so many Emergents long for us to follow.

I am only one of many seekers eager to know and embrace absolute Truth but remain humbly aware of our inability to know it absolutely. I am one of many who were raised to find respite in the stability of doctrine and take comfort in the supremacy and authority of Scripture, but who have since come to find that, more often than not, point-by-point doctrine cannot speak to the gray areas of everyday life that require the deep-seated wisdom borne of a true relationship with the Most High who equips us to discern His will rather than simply telling us what He wants.

Many are we who were raised by champions of doctrine, have studied the chapters, can recite the passages and relay stories of faith and miracle. And yet we struggle to bridge the gulf between the Truth that binds us together as One, and our authentic, deeply personal and uniquely individual faith that acts and lives and breathes Christ as differently through each of us as we are unique in personality.

Many are we who – so the saying goes – talk the talk, often verbatim and in unison, and yet fail to walk the walk when our journeys lead us down different and lonely paths and into some seemingly contradictory ends. It is much easier to remain One when we remain close in proximity.

And yet we know it is along the lonely path that Christ becomes defined in us each, when His face and power take on our unique features, and He takes form and becomes perfected in our varied skins and personalities.

So where do we find commonality along our unique journeys? Where do we turn when doctrine cannot answer the challenges of real life, and we lack the understanding to treat our different beliefs and their implications?

We turn to Christ, His life and teachings, and to the example of His disciples.

There we find Him surrounded by twelve men from as varied and opposing backgrounds and vocations as our own, but who abandon their posts to follow Christ…together. We find a tax collector living alongside the fishermen he formerly swindled. We find a zealot mingling with unclean gentiles. We find lovers of Christ forgiving His betrayers…because such is the Way of Christ.

Perhaps more significantly, we see them joining with Christ during His ministry and continuing it even after He’s left them with His Spirit, setting aside their former divisive concepts of black and white truth, and taking up the cross of service and love to become the hands and feet and miraculous power of Christ to those who had yet to hear.

And while they continued to debate doctrine and go head-to-head on matters of theological truth, they remained bound by the sole profound and elemental Truth that roots authentic Faith deep in the soul: the resurrection of Christ, apart from which everything is done in vain. As Paul, for whom “to live is Christ, to die is gain” taught, “If Christ be not raised, our faith is in vain.”

And I believe for we who live in this middle generation, unity looks like a continual search for basic Truth tempered by the humility to accept our limitations, as we ban together under Christ’s resurrection.

And we love. We serve.

For, in all Christ taught and did while He walked among humanity, He made inarguably clear exactly what sets the True believer apart from frauds, how He would separate His sheep from the goats. And in the end, it all boils down to how we treat the fatherless and the widow, whether we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and comfort the oppressed. Do we love justice and mercy? Do we walk humbly with God, recognizing our limitations in humility, seeking above all to know and love one another rather than beat or one-up each other?

These are not new or groundbreaking concepts. They’re foundational and fundamental. God has outlined for us throughout Scripture, implicitly and explicitly, that there is knowable and unknowable Truth. “For now we see dimly, as in a mirror, but then we shall see face to face.” That the soil of doubt and doctrinal differences and discussions are the purest for the seeds of faith, and for the evolution of belief based in but independent from doctrine.

In terms more specific to our times, these concepts come to life in exercising God-given intellect, the power of the mind, to discuss and hash through questions of human origin, honestly seeking a balance between science and spirituality. And in continually testing and challenging those doctrines time has taught us to blindly embrace. And in remaining humbly aware of our intellectual inferiority to the Creator against whose wisdom even the wisest men are fools.

Socially, Truth and Faith come to life in feeding and clothing the homeless and treating them as spiritual equal, beloved of Christ. In embracing and caring for the single mom, regardless of her situation. In loving homosexuals and providing them a safe context within which to live and struggle and succeed, whether or not we agree with their lifestyle.

It means giving and doing all we can to ensure that those dying for lack of clean water no longer go thirsty, either physically or spiritually. It means giving our hearts over to the brokenness of loving a man, woman, or child whose only ever known sexual slavery, and lending them hope.

It means living a humble and selfless but wholly pleasing life before God, that others may see and know Whose we are.

It means, essentially and simply, living Christ.

The question is not whether or not we are embracing the right doctrines and asserting correct Truths. But…

Are we Christ to an unsuspecting world?

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