April 15, 2014

Thoughts from Mark

…but the righteous (just, KJV) man shall live by faith. Romans 1:17 (NAS)

A most famous of verses.  Martin Luther, inspired by these words, nailed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenburg Cathedral condemning the Catholic Church for its injustices in the name of the Lord.

What does it look like to live by faith?  The term conjures up romantic and even crazy lifestyles of those who cast all aside to live unto God.  We consider the disciples who left their nets and tax collecting to follow Jesus.  We know of monks, like Luther, and others who sense so strongly the call of God that they forsake all and believe for the Lord to provide.

The English word righteous is translated from the Greek word dikaios which means equitable and right in character and actions; just in decisions and their execution.

This is the one who lives by faith.  The one who has good character and resulting actions.  One who seeks justice and ensures that it is executed for all people.

Our imaginations of a life lived by faith are not exactly in line with scripture.  In fact, some who live the imagined “by faith” life are not righteous.

Ouch.  A strong statement, I know.  But if we honestly appraise what it means to be righteous, we realize that our modern-day definition of living by faith is severely misguided.

Paul and the disciples in Acts lived off of the giving of whom they served.  Those served believed a workman was worthy of his hire.  If they labored in spiritual things among the people – feeding, guiding, counseling, teaching – it is no different than any natural service provided and those served would contribute.

Paul and the disciples lived by faith.  And so did those who gave for them to live.  In the eyes of the Lord, there is no distinction.

Today we tag one who does the work of God—living solely from the support of others and/or “the Lord”—as one who lives by faith.  As brave as this lifestyle is, it is not a biblical lifestyle of faith.

Righteousness is the lifestyle of faith.  And it is as righteous to work diligently and support those who spiritually serve as it is to spiritually serve.

Your sole livelihood being the work of the Lord is not biblical “faith”.  Nor is it necessarily a lifestyle of righteousness.  In fact, many of the ones who faithfully support such a one must live at a higher level of righteousness and faith than the one they support, for it is their means of supply.

We have veered way off course and it’s time to get back on track.  We are ALL to be righteous.  We are ALL to live by faith.

We are ALL called to the work of the Lord.  We ALL are to work unto Him.  Some do that in a business, some in a school, some in a factory or on a job site.  Others devote their “working” hours to leading and equipping the saints for works of ministry.  ALL are vital to the kingdom’s advancement.

Spiritual work is no more holy than natural work.  Both take great faith.  Some of the most “by faith” people I know lead in the marketplace, taking steps of faith to expand their territory and influence.  As well, the men and women who carry the mantle of a spiritual call do the same in the realms of the spirit.

Acts 18:2-4 He (Paul) came to them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers. And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

If I had it my way, every “person of God” would work at least one “natural” day a week in the marketplace as a “tithe” to the people he or she served.  This would create a portion of their personal income earned the same way as those who support them do.  This, in my mind, is effective stewardship of ALL one’s resources.

In return, the “marketplace folks” would serve in “spiritual” roles within the kingdom.  Volunteering in some way to equip, encourage and empower the church in advancing God’s kingdom on earth.

That just seems like a much more real, shared and genuine faith.  A true righteousness that is equitable and just.

An authentic kingdom of priests.  A family.

Consider this with me.

In love,

Mark