BRAD PETERS/A Matter of Faith
Like many of you, I recently enjoyed a summer vacation.
I’m also sure that like many of you, I was overwhelmed by the amount of work that had to be done before my family and I departed for our time away. But I’m not referring to the “wrap up” items that needed to be done at the church, our leadership team at First Baptist is wonderful at these things.
As departure day loomed near, I was overwhelmed by the amount of packing that we had to do for our short trip.
All the “stuff” we were taking seemed to cover the majority of our living room floor: clothes, guitar, dog items, the dog herself, cameras, books (my Bible, my favourite systematic theology, a commentary on John, Thoreau’s Walden, Eugene Peterson’s memoir and an old Neil Gaiman book) and enough iPods, iPads, iPhones and computers to suggest that we were paid spokespeople for Apple products — which, if you happen to work for Apple, we are available to do.
More than once during the seemingly endless cycle of loading and reloading our minivan, I questioned whether we really needed to be hauling around all of this stuff (except for the books — there is always room for more books).
Over the last few months, I’ve been seeking a simpler faith, but when I say a “simpler” faith, I don’t mean a faith without challenges or without a deep theological foundation. Quite the opposite, in fact. In seeking a simpler faith, I’ve been pursuing a “purer” faith, a Christianity stripped of many of the extras that the North American church has built onto the faith.
What does that look like in our church context? I’ll be honest: I’m not sure, but discovering it is certainly exciting. It’s exciting and challenging because I know what it looks like in a Biblical context and I’m eager to see that developed in our community.
In Luke 10, Jesus sends out 72 of his first followers throughout the region of Judea. Earlier in Luke’s gospel (chapter 9), the Lord challenges the 12 apostles the same way in Galilee.
As they leave on their mission to share the truth of God with their neighbours, Jesus tells them not to take anything for the journey. And when he said nothing, he really meant nothing: “Take nothing for the journey – no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.” (Luke 9:3)
They were to take nothing physical with them, but that didn’t mean that they went off empty-handed, and I’m beginning to understand just how very much they actually had.
As the Lord sent them out, they left with two important things: The truth of God and their reliance on it.
I have to admit that just like over-packing for vacations, I like the “stuff” of church – the programs, the work, the systems. But as I look to Scripture, I see a much simpler, purer expression of what it means to follow Christ.
I’m excited to learn what traveling a little lighter will mean in my life, and the life of the church.
Brad Peters is the pastor of First Baptist Church Niagara Falls (3900 Dorchester Rd.) and serves as chaplain to the Niagara Falls Fire Department. You can contact him at 905-354-7836 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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