“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." (Hebrews 13:2)
I think there is a tendency to over intellectualize faith. And I’m even more convinced that we often over intellectualize spiritual formation.
This may sound odd because I am not an anti-intellectual. If you know me, you know how I view education, whether it is formalized or informal. Good orthodoxy is critical, but it is only one side of the coin.
But I think we often think that thinking is the most important thing about faith and that knowing more is the key to growing closer to Christ. But what if you can’t think clearly? Or what if the pursuit of the right thoughts is the assumed goal?
I’m going to make an intentional overstatement. We already know enough. If you have a reasonable understanding that Jesus loves and forgives and died on the cross so that you can experience his love and forgiveness (Jesus offers this in a relationship with him), and having experienced his love, then giving, distributing his love and forgiveness to the people around you, you probably know enough.
Obviously a massive overstatement, because you already know more than that.
My point is this: We know (orthodoxy) enough we don’t do (orthopraxy) enough. Oh, it's much easier to know more, and it's impressive to be the person who knows more than anyone else in the room. Subject matter experts are prized in the news media, on podcasts, they write books and articles and they influence the world!
The Bible is our standard for our faith and practice. It tells what is important to know (we stop there) and do (this one is tougher).
Phrases like "Follow me" (Mark 1:17), "If you love me you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15), "If you forgive the sins of any they are forgiven" (John 20:23), "Love one another" (Romans 12:10), "Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up" (Romans 15:2), "Show hospitality" (Hebrews 13:2), all imply doing.
No, that’s not strong enough. All these phrases and the whole of the Bible demand doing.
The very name of the earliest disciples of Jesus is something to embrace, followers of “The Way” (Acts 24:14). I confess my own inadequacies, but join me in practicing doing, in the name of Jesus.
Peace to you.
John Just is pastor at Timberwood Church in Nisswa.