Is this it? Is this what God meant when He thought up the New Covenant?
For the last few years, I have often wondered how the faith exemplified by the Early Church has morphed from this meaningful phenomenon thousands of years ago led by an active Holy Spirit, to what I have today. Don’t get me wrong! I love God, and I see His presence in my life frequently guiding and leading me. But it’s not what I read about each day when I sit down for my devotion.
When I read the book of Acts, I find myself hungry for something that I can’t seem to find today.
Well, it turns out that a lot of people feel the same way. Many Christians feel dissatisfied. We know there is more to faith, there has to be. But we are not necessarily sure how to get to this elusive place.
We’ve done all the right things, but it hasn’t landed us at the kind of faith we really cry out for.
This deep yearning is what I would call, the cry for meaning. This holy dissatisfaction comes from a place where we recognise that the faith we experience is not currently meeting our needs. Not because it fails to be enough. But because our experience of it is limited by our ability to comprehend the depths of what it represents.
But the truth is we crave this meaning, because we are meaningful creations. We weren’t meant to be satisfied with what the shallow world provides us. A shallowness that oftentimes seeps into our churches too, who are now left wondering why fewer have returned ‘post’ COVID and its introduction of online services. So if this sounds like you, here are some thoughts on a way forward:
1. Acknowledge where you are. Sometimes we are too afraid to face the truth about our present reality. But fear doesn’t always have our best interests in mind. We can only change a reality that we see, so the best thing you could do is admit that your faith is not where you would like it to be. Acknowledge that there is a missing piece and that you aren’t satisfied with what you are experiencing in your Christian walk.
2. Decide that you want more and that there is more. I am convinced that there is more to faith, because of what I read in scripture. Even with all its imperfections, (and there were many), the early church did experience a faith that motivated them to forego their own lives on account of this gospel. The gospel must be so inherently valuable if it can produce this kind of reaction. We may not fully understand how valuable this gospel is yet for ourselves, but we can decide that we agree at least in principle, that it must be worth it. If we, therefore, decide that it is, we are left with one question: Do we want more? Are we willing to see more than we’ve seen? Because our answer to this question assures our endurance in finding this faith that promises to nourish every part of our being.
3. Pray, pray and pray. To find the true value of this gospel, we need a guide. We need THE guide. The Holy Spirit desires to lead us to truth, and so we must invite Him into the journey we will take. We must confess to God our own struggles to be satisfied with His sacrifice. Or to comprehend the depth of this gospel. It is a necessary step for progress.
4. Start inputting into your faith. Even though most of us go to church, attend a small group and read our Bibles each day, we don’t always realise that attendance can be a passive action. It is quite easy to turn up to a church and hear, but not receive. Or to attend a small group and read the passages & discuss, but never deeply reflect on truth in your own life. And we can even read a devotional, with the expectation that this interpreter spoon-feed us ideas with partial attention. This must change if we are to truly discover the richness inherent in our faith. To begin with, be intentional to seek God’s personal word to you. What is He saying to you? In every church service, small group and devotional time. But go further still! Listen to podcasts, read books/listen to audiobooks, and sign up for a course. Do whatever you can to find out who this God really is, and to know Him intimately.
All of these are a great starting point for discovering a deeper more wholesome faith.
Bio: Melanie J. Saward is the creator of The Pink Elelphant podcast, where she tackles core biblical principles and demonstrates how going deeper into the practical implications of such epic ideas, provides for a deeply transformative faith. She is also the author of two books: “Ministry Stinks: One Leader’s Journey from Despair to Joy” and “Disillusioned: When You Get Lost Following Jesus”, with the third book on its way: “Deep Faith, Resilient Faith: ”. Visit her website www.meljsaward.com to pre-order her book, and check out her other resources.