Faithful Asking

Genesis 18:17–33, Colossians 2:6–19

There are two different amazing streams of thought in this vignette of Abraham and God. The first is Abraham’s audaciousness. That a faithful person is free to ask God for clarification is beautiful. This shows us that when we are faithful toward and trustful of God, it’s okay to not understand, and to ask clarifying questions. There has long been an undercurrent in some Christian traditions that any sort of questioning is wrong and even sinful. This is not the case.

The other stream is God’s respect toward Abraham. God could have hidden things from Abraham and chose not to. God seems to think that while God is God, Abraham is an important piece and has a place in this story. It is almost as if God wants Abraham to have a place in the story for Abraham’s development.

Questioning authority is fraught with perils. Abraham questioned THE authority. There is a place for it. It is important to understand the point of questioning in our faith: to understand, to clarify, to see our place in the big picture (to some degree).

There are those who struggle with “question authority”. There is a reason why it is healthy. In his letter to the Colossians, Paul is having to unwind rules and regulations. There are Jewish and Romans and local pagan customs that all need to be unwound from the Church. Paul alludes to Jesus questioning the religious authorities. His questions “disarmed” their control over “proper” God-honoring life.

What’s interesting here is that Paul is not just talking about food. He is also talking about ascetic (think monks) practices, worship practices, sacrificial practices. As a holiness denomination with its own “peculiarities”, the Church of the Nazarene is showing signs of growing out of the same tendencies that Paul opposed. It’s not to say that the holiness path is out of date or wrong, quite the contrary. It’s that the Church is re-learning the lessons that Jesus and Paul taught.

What’s interesting here is that Paul is not just talking about food. He is also talking about ascetic (think monks) practices, worship practices, sacrificial practices. As a holiness denomination with its own “peculiarities”, the Church of the Nazarene is showing signs of growing out of the same tendencies that Paul opposed. It’s not to say that the holiness path is out of date or wrong, quite the contrary. It’s that the Church is re-learning the lessons that Jesus and Paul taught.

The Church of the Nazarene has had people condemn others because their lifestyle did not meet their standards, just as those causing trouble in Colossi. Some of these practices have been held in a tighter embrace than those heart-oriented practices that are in the Scriptures. No denomination has been spared. Both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox have long held the ascetics very high. Any good practice used to diminish others is no longer a good practice.

1) Have you ever questioned someone’s maturity of faith because they don’t do a practice that you think is better?

2) Have you ever questioned someone’s maturity of faith because they have a practice that you think is pointless or lifeless?

3) When was the last time you looked at the Scriptures to add a new or revitalize an old practice for your spiritual growth?

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