Tonight as I began looking over the scriptures for the upcoming Advent season and started making notes about them, I decided that I could turn them into something more than just my private musings and hopefully provide some insight for others free from religious jargon.
I have no formal theological training other than forty-something years as a member of Baptist churches. I am not typical Baptist, at least in the modern sense. I am a typical Baptist in the historical sense of the denomination with a firmly held belief in the priesthood of the believer. I cannot sit down with the Bible and come away without a message given through the Holy Spirit. I do not have to have a religious leader telling me what it means.
That I can interact directly with the Bible through guidance from the Holy Spirit is one of the glorious aspects of our faith. The more I consider the ancient texts of the Old Testament and, relatively, contemporary texts of the New Testament. I cannot find a way to separate one from the other and the message from God is consistent throughout: He desires a relationship with us and expects us to live justly with one another.
Jesus, in his life and words, managed to summarize the desires of God for all people into something real, not something codified by a series of rules. Instead, God’s hopes, and expectations, for us became something we could truly achieve. Old rules and the new covenant merge together into an interactive vibrant lifestyle that is far from the restricted distant, cold version of Christianity too many churches continue to practice. God does not desire an army of perfect followers controlled by the fear that one misstep eternally separates us from his presence, but would much rather collaborate with legions of imperfect seekers, humble enough to listen through our failures in our attempts to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Each day as I read scripture, I ask, “What does God want from me?” Activity dominates the descriptions of those who do what God asks. Most often when God’s wrath occurs, it follows inaction of the believers. Maybe together, we can find the active ministry God wants for all.