Sunday, July 15

The Three Faces of Faith

Have you ever heard of somebody being called, "High Church" and thought it meant snooty? Or thought somebody was being rude to call a denomination, "Low Church?" I'll confess, I have. I was wrong both times (I think!). The fact is that some people talk about three different kinds of churches, or of Christians, being high-, low-, and broad-, church. It can be a dividing point, that this or that group is somehow smarter, holier, or whatever. Maybe the best way to figure the three descriptions is this: They are three expressions of the one Gospel, and every Christian is an expression of it in each of those ways.

There is not one symbol of the Faith more enduring than the Cross. A mere two beams of timber, it stands triumphant over all the sin, all the despair, and all the achievements of humanity. Most basically there is a hole in ground that supports the Cross, so that the depth of the earth itself holds it high and straight. Before the Cross could be raised it had to be grounded. A place had to be dug for it in the solid ground. The groundwork for Jesus’ sacrifice was set in the standards, precepts, and predictions of what we now call the Old Testament the Law, Prophets, and Writings of the Jews., and Bible continues to confirm in us the hope we have through Jesus’ death and resurrection. The focus on the unchanging truth of Scripture defines the place of the Church, and is one way of defining “Low Church.”

To be a Christian involves others. Christ is the Head of His Body, He said we, collectively, are the branches to His vine, living stones built together into one holy temple, members one of another. Our life is about reaching outward in love and service to one another, and to the world around us to spread the message of salvation to all people. In showing love and mercy to each other we are reaching outward, like the crossbeam. This is a picture of the “Broad Church.”

But the crossbeam needs support, and it needs to be held in place, and the testimony of the Cross needs to be held up for all to see. The one place for the beam is on the post, and the one place for the post is the hole where it is planted firm in the ground and pointing ever Heavenward. So as we worship the Lord together, and make that worship the main work of our lives, then we find ourselves in the place we need to be, in line with God, grounded in His Word, and reaching out to each other, and with each other.

We can go farther, and speak of the Cross as a picture of meeting place of history with the Last Days, all kinds of other applications, but it all goes back to that one mystery:

I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me! (Gal. 2:20)

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