Nineteen Questions–1. Have You Faith in Christ?

Have you faith in Christ? This seems like such an obvious and simple question for one seeking ordination in the Church. Indeed it’s one of the foundational–nay, THE foundational question of the Christian faith.

The faith to confess that “Jesus Christ is Lord” is the bedrock upon which Christianity is built. Jesus as Lord is not just a piece of Christianity, it is Christianity. Upon Peter’s confession of Him as “the Christ, the son of the Living God” Jesus pledged to build His Church. For me, the Christological hymn preserved in Philippians 2:6-11 says it all:

who, though he was in the form of God,
    did not regard equality with God
    as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
    taking the form of a slave,
    being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
    he humbled himself
    and became obedient to the point of death—
    even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted him
 and gave him the name
    that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
    that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

In reflecting on this question, retired Bishop Ernest Lyght imagines that there are really two layers to this question: “Do you know Jesus?” and “How well do you know Jesus?”[1]

I came to know Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life” when I was 14 years old during a week of church camp.faith-spirit-of-faith3-300x225 I came to realize that Jesus had been pursuing me with His grace before I was even willing to admit the existence of God. I accepted the invitation to confess my sin, put my trust in Jesus, and submit my life to his Lordship. The words of Charles Wesley’s great hymn became my reality:

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night:
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

This was a dramatic experience in my life. During that same week of camp I felt God’s call to ordained ministry. I really began my Christian journey with the peculiar certainty that Jesus wanted to use me. But even though I felt that call, the height of it all was knowing that Jesus loved me and had rescued me.

How well do I know Jesus? To me, this is a question of Christian growth. My life changed the instant I professed faith in Jesus Christ, but the story of faith would be incomplete if it ended there. Faith must always strive to be maturing. Fresh in my mind right now is the sermon that my friend and co-laborer Bruce preached yesterday on John 16:12-15. In my journey, there have continually been new facets to faith in Christ. There have been times where I could “not bear” to know any more, but I’ve learned more about Christ and His grace as the journey continues. As individual believers, we are called to lives of personal and social holiness. This is only possible by submitting our entire selves to the Lordship of Christ in vocation, relationships, time, passion, and will. In so doing, we know him more, and reclaim more of our authentic humanity.

Christ continues to be my only hope. He’s my hope for my own life, for the life of my family, my hope for the human race, my hope for the Church. Everything I have and everything I am is because of Jesus.

Have you faith in Christ? I have.

[1] Lyght, Ernest S. Have You Faith in Christ?: A Bishop’s Insight into the Historic Questions. Nashville: Abingdon, 2015. Kindle Edition. Loc. 284

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