Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Basic of Survival

The Jewish Rabbi, Abraham Heschel, raises the question of how Judaism survived the assaults and challenges it has faced through the centuries.  Throughout their history the Jewish people have again and again seen the decay of civilization, have lived through persecutions and have been scorned with contempt.  He notes that they kept their integrity alive through “a commitment of heart and soul, love that goes with character and conviction.”   He alludes to the idea that the focal point of Jewish survival is the belief that “God, Israel, and Torah are one.”  He concludes that commitment to these three inseparable, interdependent realities must be based on love to be successful. Without a commitment to all three, faith becomes a two-legged tripod which will soon collapse and die.
The same can be said for Christianity as well.  Our foundation must be based on a commitment of love towards God, His word, and the Church.  At a time when Christianity is considered contemptible in the eyes of secular society, when we are being persecuted and ostracized for our beliefs, having a balanced approach to all three is crucial.  If we discount one of them, favoring the other two, we will eventually find ourselves in dire straits.
Without a strong faith in God, the pressures surmounting us will eventually become overwhelming, leading us into discouragement.  This can lead us to doubt God’s power and control over the forces that assail us.  It then becomes much more difficult to maintain a position of integrity in our culture.  As fatalism makes its headway into our lives, we experience paralysis, believing that this is just the way things are.  Our moral outrage at evil begins to disappear. 
Without the strong presence of the Word, we have little sense of God’s love and His expectations for us.  Becoming biblically illiterate, we lose sight of the fact that God is a relationship building God who deeply cares for us and wants us to live incarnational lives.  Without an understanding of the nature of God’s gracious love for us, without knowledge of his character our relationship with him becomes diminished.  As a result, we are unable to represent Christ to the world.
It is also essential to be connected to His Church.  There are many today who desire to follow Christ without identifying with the Church.  But the Church is an adhesive, binding us together in love as the body of Christ.  Without a strong identification with the Church we lose a connection with his body that helps sustain us in the difficult times of our lives, and gives us purpose in serving and ministering to others.
            Triangles are the strongest geometrical structures.  Unlike other geometrical figures, such as quadrilaterals, which can be deformed easily, a triangle will hold its shape.  The equilateral triangle, which may well be the strongest because all three sides and angles are equal, is the type most used in structural design.  . 
Just as it’s shape keeps it from being deformed, the internal forces on all sides begin equal, so also a life based equally on faith in God, immersion in His word, and identification with His Church will be able to stand against the wiles of the roaring lion devil.  This three strand cord approach to faith helps us stand firm as we live out our daily lives Because it is very easy to get out of kilter, it is well worth asking ourselves from time to time “How well balanced is the triangle of my life of faith in God?”  “Do I have a love relationship with God, His Word, and the Church?”