The Content of Faith
Tim: As I reflect on this week’s topic of Grace & Gratitude, I can’t recall us ever talking about either one in great detail. That surprises me, given how much time we spend talking about faith, encouraging and praying for one another, and so on. Can you recall our conversations every going that direction?
Shea: Are you kidding? We talk about grace and gratitude constantly! When we say, “Watch God work!” are we not saying, “God’s grace is more than enough and if we let God work, we’ll be grateful about it!” At least, that’s what I rely on when I say, “Watch God work!”
Tim: No, you’re right. “Watch God work” is so important because grace makes it all possible and gratitude is the natural response to grace. But I’m very interested in your notion of relying on grace and gratitude. Isn’t that what most of us call faith?
Shea: Yes, of course. Faith relies on God’s ability to work in our lives even while it anticipates outcomes that inspire thankfulness.
Tim: Dozens of scriptures come to mind. “Above all we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20) and “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” (Heb. 12:1) and on and on and on. I could do faith pull-quotes all day!
Shea: Yes, but what’s in your faith?
Tim: What do you mean?
Shea: By itself, faith isn’t much better than wishing. That’s how it gets distorted into a lot of things it was never meant to be, like certainty or magic or superstition. The theologian Paul Tillich pressed against these misconceived ideas by insisting faith needs content. Faith is reliance on God. But what exactly are we depending on? That’s less clear. That’s where grace and gratitude come in.
Tim: So you’re saying grace and gratitude are what faith is made of.
Shea: Think of faith as container. When we open it up, what’s inside? First, there’s grace, or God’s unconditional love and mercy given to us without merit. We rely entirely on grace, because grace makes faith possible. Grace is what makes room for our doubts and questions, along with our confidence and trust. Grace enables us to live with the contradictions. Without opening our eyes to the miracle of grace, we’d be oblivious to how God is working in our lives despite the contradictions. “Was blind but now I see,” is how the “Amazing Grace” poet put it. Once awareness of grace enables us to watch God work, a well of gratitude naturally springs up within us.
Tim: And that gratitude enables us to see even more ways that grace is shown to us.
Shea: Which leads to more gratitude. It’s a beautifully constructed ecosystem that we call “faith.” But we’ll get to all of that this coming Thursday night.
Join us this Thursday at L!VE Café, 163 S. Oak Park Avenue in Oak Park. Doors open at 7:00p, the study begins at 7:30p. If you can’t be with us in person, join us via Facebook Live.
We need your help!
As we think about the future of Gather, please let us know what gifts you bring and would like to share with the community. There are many roles that have to come together to make Gather happen every week. This includes setup, technical support, worship, managing handouts and information, coordinating drinks, and teardown. We need your help. Please let us know what type of service you’d be interested in!
Watch God Work,
Tim & Shea
- This Thursday, May 31: we wrap up the Origins series on May 31 with a focus on Grace and Gratitude. This will be a story-telling session, as we hear from a number of folks about the ways God’s grace and their gratitude have made a difference in their lives.
- Thursday, June 7: We start our new study series, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time (see below).
- Sunday, June 24: Gather will join the Lighthouse Church (4713 N. Broadway, Chicago) in a special worship service prior to joining thousands from other Chicagoland churches as we witness God’s love and radical welcome in the annual Gay Pride parade. Tee shirts and more info soon to come!
As we prepare to become a vibrant worshipping community, we invite you to enjoy a Spotify playlist that captures the kind of worship we hope to embrace. Give it a spin while you’re driving. Make it your workout jam. Add it to your devotional time. Most of all, feel yourself becoming part of a sacred village of believers who love their God and one another!
Check out the Gather Worship Playlist here.
Summer is the perfect time for a “walking tour” of Mark’s Gospel. The oldest and shortest of the Gospels, Mark is full of amazing details that capture the life and ministry of Jesus in fascinating ways. Mark’s Jesus is a man on a mission without much patience for folks who can’t keep up. He says exactly what’s on his mind. And the writer tells the Jesus story in an action-packed style overflowing with mysterious touches. Why is there no Christmas chapter? Why is Jesus so tough on the disciples? Why can’t they see who he really is? Why are the women afraid to tell the news of the Risen Christ? And what’s up with that naked man in Gethsemane (among other peculiarities)?
Join us every Thursday from June 7-August 30, as we spend the summer touring Mark’s Gospel. It will be a trip well worth taking!