Catacomb Resident Blog

Doing It Together

03 March 2023

Faith is the power to act as if God isn't kidding around.

It's one thing to dig into the Word and discern the organic whole of the message. I suppose my regular readers by now can grasp the nature of faith in God as a commitment to take His Word seriously, at least as individuals. If He says things must be done a certain way, we can at least envision ourselves doing it. If He says trust Him to handle certain issues, we can at least grasp that enough to want it. But to gather together with others and do that is another thing altogether.

It's for sure precious few of those who read this blog post have anyone physically near them who shares a covenant faith. Your individual faith can still work miracles, and we are commanded to embrace the idea that miracles are a routine matter under the Covenant. Our Lord says, "Count on it!" But it's for sure that individual faith only goes so far, and that's how God designed His Creation. He'll use individual faith to move mountains, but the whole point is that we don't stand alone in our faith forever. Sometime sooner or later He's going to move others into the picture.

That's His nature, and it's His promise.

The challenge, then, is to be ready for how He does business using people in community. It's not enough to explore the meaning of covenant and the boundaries it proposes for us. It's necessary to recognize when someone else is joining us inside those boundaries. It's also necessary to know how to handle things once they do.

It matters at least in part because the miracles that God supplies to a covenant community of faith is on a whole new level above what He does for us as individuals. I've said that the whole mission of a church is to simply learn how to love and live with each other regardless of the daily activities. That kind of surrender of individual privilege puts you in a completely different place with God.

Now, I'd like to emphasize once again: This is not a question of purchasing from God the things He has promised. It's an issue of having standing. You don't earn it; you simply go to the place where miracles are standard equipment. That place includes a whole range of giving-ness to keep your covenant brothers and sisters close. Sacrifice is the coin of the realm in the Kingdom of Heaven. The challenge is in knowing what you should and should not sacrifice.

It's too easy to start shoving this kind of truth into a category of procedure, but it's not like that. The procedures laid out in Scripture are not law in our Western sense, but law in that Ancient Near Eastern sense of something impossible to put into words. The words are not law, but are the uniform worn by the living being who stands in the role of law -- Christ is our Law. He's a moral imperative that exceeds words, that goes places words cannot follow. He's someone that transcends mere words and actions. We emulate His character in our own unique ways. Though we are each different, people of faith should be able to estimate how you'll respond in different situations. It should be consistent in moral logic, though it may defy intellectual logic.

It is faith tested in the fires of dealing with other humans that is most powerful in this world. This is why I keep saying that churches don't actually "do" anything. The "doing" is a matter of a thousand little sacrifices even as you stand strong on issues of purity. It's developing a reflex for the kind of priorities that allows us to pick a few grain heads on the Sabbath because we don't have time to stop and have a normal meal. If you have a critical mission, and must sacrifice your regular sit-down meal, then maybe doing some harvest labor on the Sabbath isn't such a crime. God isn't a nit-picking legalist. The issue is that you meet the mission of touching His people, not fearfully keep all the rules.

What are those rules supposed to accomplish in the first place? Do you recognize that some boundaries are much higher than others? We aren't protecting the rules themselves, but using them to keep us oriented broadly on the Father's requirements of how we treat others. The Sabbath Laws were aimed at protecting the people from abuse, and giving them time to stop and contemplate their moral duty to God. The whole atmosphere for the Covenant of Moses was a contemplative mystical atmosphere calling people to a higher moral plane.

And when people of faith come together and express a strong bond of divine sacrificial love ("agape"), they stand together on a higher moral plane. When you gather in that higher place together, God is far more generous with His provision. If only a small portion of any body of people can get there, the whole body benefits from the same divine covering. It's a really big tent that God puts up for His Covenant. It's meant to cover all of those who matter to us, even if He doesn't matter to them. That's how a covenant code works; it provides a functional moral boundary for those who are incapable of reading the character of God. Maybe they'll progress from code to faith, but if not, the code allows them to still receive some measure of covering.

That's the kind of power God pours out into the lives of just the few who can gather in His name. This is what we seek. If just two or three of you can gather in faith once in a while, the whole universe can be shaken. That's not an exaggeration, folks.

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