Define the ‘Christian’ movement?

Just what is the defining values of the ‘Christian’ faith? Ever ask yourself a question like that? If you had to get to the heart of your faith – what would be the paradigm or the outline? How would you relate this to others?

I think the Christian faith hinges on a phrase something like this ‘the word become flesh’. It has many aspects to consider but one aspect for me stands out – the words of God manifesting themselves (or itself) in human form. I like the idea that John is telling us something about the gospel here that is very relevant to us.

I would say what good is ‘faith without works’ (from James 2:14) – or that belief is simply defined as ‘believing something so as to the act upon it’. That definition has no holes in it. If you truly believe something you will also live by it. James’ argument here is accurate – faith with no works/action = you do not believe it; also ‘faith with works/action’ = you believe it. Jesus lays down examples of this all the time in the 4 gospels and almost every parable hinges on this idea – most poignantly the one about the fruit of the trees. What seems to be coming across in the gospels in a multitude of ways is ‘you need to become the word in the flesh also’.

Now what we have in front of us a bible, with a lot of words in it – but simply put they are just words and nothing more (framed in verses, chapters, books, and letters). Those words are lifeless things, writing on a page in verbs, nouns, adjectives, and sentences – but in and of themselves they do not contain ‘life’. What needs to happen with this literature we have in front of us – we need to read them (hear them) and make them ‘flesh, alive, real, or living’. So just how do words move from a page into our perspectives?

This is where the essence of belief comes into the frame. We choose to believe or not – and that choice is deeply embedded as a central framing for our lives – decision is something that helps to define our logic and outlook on life. Once you make a decision on the words you read you have either chosen to ‘reject’ or ‘select’ what you just read into your world-view. It is right there where the ‘seed’ is planted and the words of God may become flesh (or part of the human mind, heart, soul, and strength). Once you accept it – you began to practice it – then the idea becomes a solidified belief or value (by becoming part of the human experience). What started as a parable or a commandment – now is alive and living again.

This is my definition of the Christian faith, ‘the word becomes flesh’. So when I read ‘do unto others as I would want done unto me’ – then I have a choice to make. Same thing goes for the idea of a ‘good samaritan’, ‘mercy over judgment’, or ‘loving my neighbor’. I can let those words find a footing the human heart and mind or just forget them and keep my old values I had in their place. It is also in this essence we are ‘being born again’ – the loss of one value for another. Also we are ‘following Christ’ and ‘doing these teachings’ by placing it in a real world environment – namely the fabric of our ‘being’. The ‘word become flesh’ is speaking of Christ in John but I also see it as a good framing for our ‘good news’ – who also asks us to ‘be like Christ’.

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7 thoughts on “Define the ‘Christian’ movement?

  1. This is my definition of the Christian faith, ‘the word becomes flesh’.

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, brother. I will quote that often.
    Thanks,
    Jim

  2. Great post society! You have nailed down one key element of the faith but I think there is a danger in making too much out of what is is that we do in response to our faith. Now before you reject that, let me explain that I totally agree that faith without works is dead. In fact I would say that there is much more emphesis on the works in the New Testement than most believers are aware of. My friend Tim’s wife, Marina, wrote a good post (go to Tim’s site if you still have the link, I think it is the latest post) that goes almost as far as to say that it is works that saves us. That is a dangerous thought too, but the point is our faith commands us to good works. Those who hold fast to the “salvation by faith alone” doctrine are often leading a life of repeating cycles of sinning and repenting (I speak from experince).

    Anyway, the point I would like to make here (and I almost hate to do it because your point is what most need to hear, understand and accept unto action) is that our faith really isn’t about us at all. Our faith is about God and his glory. I would have to say that these two verses would be my definition or description of the New Testement believer;

    Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:8

    And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.
    1 John 4:16

    What you have zeroed in on is what we naturally (or super-naturally) do when we come to believe the truth of who God is. But our actions are unimportant and miniscule in comparison to the power, majesty and glory of God.

  3. Ken I agree, we are not ‘saved’ by or works – unless I should boast. But this in no way negates the idea of ‘following Christ’ – even to the cross.

    If we truly believe in Jesus then in some sense we are going down that same path with him – and are fellow-partners in that journey (as were the disciples). Matthew has as his cornerstone idea the words ‘follow me’ (as said by Jesus). Just what could Matthew be saying with this ‘idea’? Well he elaborates on it quite well throughout the gospel and it seems to be quite simple ‘do as I do, go where I go, live what I live’.

    Now the disciples learned this leasson – after they had split on Jesus and the whole cross event. In Acts and in church fathers writings all of the apostles/disciples are killed off (some even die on the cross). Now they saw the journey out – even as it cost them everything they ever had – their existence. But one can clearly say ‘they followed’…and this is further revealed by their teachings on the faith.

    I follow the same model also – the ‘follow Jesus’ idea. I am saying he made it possible by his act upon the cross for such faith – but it’s also a faith that wants me to be involved (call it works or whatever – but we have to be involved since ‘following’ is an action). I have no problem with that and the teachings of Jesus seem to point to this idea.

    A lot of the parables talk about this and that ideal – and all of them mention an ideal to be adopted and lived out. Whether the idea is humilty, sincerity, charity, or love – the idea is always ‘living’ it or ‘following’ it. The question is – if I reject it then what? Then I have to admit I am no longer that concerned with ‘following’ Jesus – as written by the disciples.

    What does it mean to believe in the life and death (even resurrection) of Christ? Could it be as simple as ‘follow me’? (follow – the participation of us; me – the life of Christ as laid out in the teachings). I think there is some wisdom and contextual truth within that. Or else how can on bear the name of the person he claims to follow (ie: Christ-ian)? Use the examples of being a Mark-ist – you follow his dogma if that is the case. Or an econom-ist – you know about the workings and ideas of the economy and use them in practice.

    If following means actions on our part, so be it. It isn’t the act of our salvation but the idea we truly and sincerely believe it really did happen…so we follow the same path – that one our founder trod. Or we could use John’s expression of ‘words made flesh’ – same thing different analogy.

  4. Excellent post, SocietyVs.

    I especially liked this paragraph:

    “Now what we have in front of us a bible, with a lot of words in it – but simply put they are just words and nothing more (framed in verses, chapters, books, and letters). Those words are lifeless things, writing on a page in verbs, nouns, adjectives, and sentences – but in and of themselves they do not contain ‘life’. What needs to happen with this literature we have in front of us – we need to read them (hear them) and make them ‘flesh, alive, real, or living’. So just how do words move from a page into our perspectives?”

    It reminds me a lot of Karl Barth’s view of the Bible and the verse where God promises to write His words on our hearts.

    BrotherKen, you raise an important point. Good works are very important in the Bible, though they are always secondary to that inner work God is doing in us.

  5. BB, that is exactly what I was trying to say. And yet there is so much more to be said. That is what I love about the faith that I have and see in others. As we grow in our faith there is always something new to be learned. What society is saying here is awesome in that it truly summarizes the very essence of Christ. “and the word became flesh” is something that when once you internalize the concept you can spend the rest of your life trying to live up to it. And though it will be a struggle, you will realize the richness that can only be gained by living a life of loving sacrifice.

  6. Good thoughts SVs and BB,

    I think a lot of my meditation has been boiling down to “whoever may lose his life for my sake shall find it”

    I find it interesting that it does NOT read “whoever may lose his life for me”… but instead focuses the sacrifice for ‘God’s sake’

    All that to say, I’m trying to get past churchy words like ‘glory’ and ‘majesty’ that translate poorly, and delve into the ‘sake’ of God…

    (sorry, had to repost this to correct typos)

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