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A Practice-Based Faith

by Aaron Schultz on September 26, 2018

The other day I was listening to one of my favorite spiritual thinkers, Father Richard Rohr. He was saying how the vitality of the Christian faith in the future relies on two things; a robust Trinitarian understanding of God and a Practice-based faith.

The first part of this equation has a lot to do with our under- standing of Jesus Christ. You see, when we say “Jesus Christ” we are really making two important affirmations of faith. Firstly, we are recognizing the humanity of Jesus who walked alongside us and was one of us. A lot of non-denominational and charismatic churches worship a very “human” Jesus which is great, but there is more to Jesus’ story. Secondly, when we say “Jesus Christ” we are recognizing the Cosmic nature of Christ; the eternal Logos who throughout the course of time goes before us, is with us, and comes after us continually revealing the nature of the Godhead (the Cosmic nature of Christ is beautifully celebrated in Celtic theology). If we profess our faith in Jesus Christ we are holding these truths in tension with one another while proclaiming faith in the united Trinity. God is relationship and movement and life and love.

When our concept of God becomes larger and larger over time, it directly affects how we worship. As children, often times we can only process a small Jesus who is our friend. This revelation may be wonderfully necessary and life-giving at the time, but at some point that particular notion of Jesus needs to be amended. If we commit to being life-long learners and experiencers of the faith, this process of understanding and renewal does not stop! It keeps on evolving. And this evolution necessitates a renewed way of connecting with God on a “soul level”.

I have found practices such as mediation, confession, Eucharist, prayer walks, and other forms of contemplative prayer to be cable vessels for my expanding understanding of God. These daily practices allow for nuance, non-cerebral investigation, and experiential and emotional connection to the Divine.

Like Father Richard Rohr, I do believe the future of the Christian tradition (in terms of richness and vitality) relies on the extent to which we don’t box God in with our theology and the extent to which we convert understanding into experience. God does not just reside in our minds. God is everywhere present and finds home in our seeking, our questions, our doubts, our pain, our pleasure, and our rejoicing.

To see how a practice-based faith looks like in a worship service, I invite you to Imago Dei Church in Peoria on October 14th at 6:00pm. I will be playing music with Aaron Nyquist from “The Practice” at Willow Creek Church as he leads us in a 90-minute gathering that will bring time-tested spiritual practices together with modern forms of worship, and help us learn the practices that can sustain our souls as we join God in the healing and restoration of the world.