March 24, 2010
This week we finished a series of faith stories in our worship services themed around the “sharing the gospel” portion of our mission statement. (You can view these at the end of this post.) God has been glorified and many have been encouraged by this element of our worship service together. The faith story is truly a highlight of our corporate worship services. Whenever we have one, it leaves me not only edified and encouraged, but also wanting more and wishing that we did this more often.
I view our worship service as a give and receive interaction on both the vertical and horizontal plane. We come to give and we come to receive and only in both interactions is the fullness of God’s purpose for our worship gatherings experienced. Vertically we receive from God as we listen to his Word being taught, sung, and proclaimed both visually and verbally. We may also receive from him healing, encouragement, peace, exhortation, even rebuke, correction and forgiveness. On the other hand, we give God thanksgiving, praise, obedience, and repentance in response to what he has given us. We also come to obey the Scriptures command, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name.” (Hebrews 13:15-16 NIV) We confess his name in our songs, prayers and in our creeds. However, the practice of publicly proclaiming what God has done or is doing in our lives through Jesus is another way each one of us can fulfill this command. This Scripture reminds us that our faith story is first and foremost offered to God as a sacrifice of praise.
However, faith story is also offered to one another. On the horizontal level, we give and receive love, grace and mutual encouragement to and from each other. We ought to do this on a daily basis in our relationships, through a one-on-one conversation on the phone, or face-to-face at the coffee shop, in our small group gatherings, and even through our social networks and e-communications. I am reminded of Paul’s opening statement to the Roman congregations.
“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong– 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.” (Romans 1:11-13 NIV)
The underlying goal of a faith story is to spotlight the work of God in our lives. However it also spotlights the basis of our salvation, faith and in so doing it encourages greater faith. That’s why it is so important to have in the worship service setting. The Scriptures declare, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–” (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).” In sharing the details of our journey of faith, we give a spiritual gift that makes others strong. We mutually encourage each other by our faith.
Do you see yourself as someone who should be sharing your faith story? What kind of faith does the Lord require and commend? Turning in the Scriptures to Hebrews 11, we see that all sorts of people are included in that list of living “by faith.” Sure Abraham, the father of Israel is on that list, but so is Rahab, the prostitute of Jericho. Jesus once rebuked his disciples for having “little faith.” He said that if you had the faith of a mustard seed, you can move mountains. So I’d say that mustard seed faith is the requirement for a faith story, and what mountain-moving potential it holds! That’s all it takes! It’s because we’re not displaying ourselves, but our God – that’s what faith does. The point of the faith story is not to present a polished you, or a perfectly resolved story. On the contrary, it’s to share your “in process” journey of faith, spotlighting the author and perfecter of your faith, Jesus Christ. So whether you are at the beginning, middle or toward the end of your earthly journey, if you are living by faith, you are invited to share.
What if at the end of 2010, what we at Trinity have deemed the “Year of the Gospel,” we publish a book of our stories declaring the wonderful work of the Lord as the gospel saves us and shapes us as his people? Our Senior Pastor, Gary Inrig, clearly took us through the mega-narrative of the gospel with the four words: Creation, Rebellion, Rescue and Restoration. (check out this incredible message here, The Story). Our story joins God’s story the moment we are rescued from our rebellion through faith in Christ. It continues throughout the restoration process. If you’ve been rescued and you are being restored, then you have a faith story (stories) and others need to hear it. Consider submitting it here by responding to this blog. Each faith story should include the rescue portion, that is, when and how you placed your faith in Christ. Then it continues to demonstrate how you are being restored. Share a significant event in your life. How is your faith growing now? The inclusion of faith stories in our worship service accomplishes the two-fold purpose of the corporate worship service – to glorify our triune God and to edify the church. Please consider “imparting a spiritual gift” to your church family.
Herrick Johson’s Faith Story
Mike Holyk’s Faith Story