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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

October 2013

 

Dear Members and Friends,

            Our new adult Sunday school class is named “VERITAS.”  The name has raised enough eyebrows that a little explanation might be in order.  You see, I had to write an announcement about the new class quickly, in order to make the deadline for a recent worship bulletin.  The name for the old class, “Open Spaces,” no longer seemed appropriate.  And so, I called the class VERITAS, assuming (in a moment of self-delusion) that everyone would know that veritas is Latin for “truth,” as in “the eternal verities,” or our English word “veritable.”

            In any case, VERITAS is a refresher course in the basics of the Christian faith.  We wrestle with a lot of meaningful questions.  Take for example last week’s discussion: Everyone knows that “faith” usually refers to “belief,” the acceptance of some creed or doctrine.  But in the New Testament, the word “faith” (which is usually translated simply as “belief”) can also have other meanings.  It can mean “trust.”  And it can mean “faithfulness to something or someone.”  This third definition implies that faith is more about one’s lifestyle than one’s private collection of doctrines and ideas.

Here’s a little illustration of the difference: Next time you recite the Apostles’ Creed, instead of saying, “I believe in God the Father Almighty,” try saying, “I am faithful to God the Father Almighty.”  You could do the very same thing with the well-known verse, John 3:16: “For God so loved that world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever is faithful to him shall not perish…”  The VERITAS group liked this understanding of “faith,” because it takes church away from the intellect and puts it squarely in our daily lives.  It makes faith to be more about how we live than what we believe.

            I often tell people that I didn’t really become a person of faith until after I’d served as a Presbyterian missionary in Africa for several years.  It’s true!  For me, the believing followed the doing.  In fact, the Christian faith only made sense to me as I struggled to live with it daily, in a place of terrible beauty, pervasive illness, crushing poverty, and unexplainable joy.  Jesus doesn’t often say “Believe in me” (and even when he does—as we just saw—it could also be translated as, “Be faithful to me”).  No, Jesus doesn’t often ask us for belief.  But his constant command is, “Follow me.”  As important as beliefs and doctrines are, we will always meet the living Christ more in his service than in all the books that have been written about him.  Sometimes doing is believing.

Faithfully,

~Brian