Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In BALANCE...Christian Living


Authentic Christianity involves finding balance between orthodoxy and orthopraxy, between the indicatives and imperatives of Scripture, and the "already" and "not yet" of our faith.
Orthodoxy is right belief; orthopraxy is right behavior. Indicatives point to what God has already done in Christ. Imperatives call us to live in light of what God has done. "Already" points to completed elements of our faith; "not yet" points to what's still future.
Unfortunately, we tend to treat these as oppo-sites, naturally emphasizing belief over behavior, what we do over what God has already done, and future hopes over present realities.
But orthodoxy and orthopraxy are two sides of the same coin, not opposites. Our doctrine and theology must be matched by our lifestyle and conduct. Biblical imperatives should not be separated from their corresponding indicatives. The "already" and "not yet" are not contradictions or substitutes for each other.
Right belief about God's existence is no big deal, says James. The Devil shares that conviction, but he's still the Devil (James 2:19). What matters is the translation of belief into behavior.
In Galatians, Ephesians, and Colossians we see Paul's pattern of explaining our position in Christ in the first half of the letter, followed by his exhortation to godly living in the second half. He establishes our position and then prescribes our practice. We are; therefore, we ought.
And in Romans 8, Paul's reminder of the reality of life in Christ through the Spirit (w. 1-17) is followed by a discourse on the "unrealities" of our faith (vv. 18-25). Though delivered from sin's penalty, we still wait for deliverance from sin's presence. The physical creation groans for deliv-
erance, and believers also groan for the redemption of our bodies.
Quest for truth balanced with quest for Christ-likeness results in what my friend calls "charitable orthodoxy" — debating our differences and loving each other in the process. He confesses that his church has historically "majored on truth but struggled with grace." Sad commentary, for truth and grace aren't opposites; they come in the same package: Jesus (see John 1:14-17).
And the same holds true for unity and truth. In his article "Against the Stream" (Christianity Today, September 2012), Timothy George reminds us that though they tend to pull us in different directions, unity and truth aren't opposites. We promote unity at the expense of truth or the indicative of truth with no regard for the imperative of unity. Yet in John 17 Jesus not only affirms that God's Word is truth but also prays that those who receive the truth of God's Word would be one. George concludes, "We cannot be faithful followers of Jesus unless we heed both parts of his prayer."

Truth matters, but the world doesn't care how much we know until they see how much we care. When we find balance in these areas, our walk becomes the evidence of our faith; church becomes what we are, not something we do; and those who make up the church — broken people, each of us a potentially dangerous heap of conflicting emotions and motives — become living proof of Christ's redemption, complete in Him and still hoping for our full redemption.

Whaid Guscott Rose Conference President,  OF THE CHURCH  OF  GOD,  SEVENTH  DAY,  Denver, CO. USA
Jan/Feb. 2013 "The Bible Advocate"
January - February 2013 • 31

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