Christianity and the Problem of Human ViolenceChristianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 97: Christian Faith
from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 97: Christian Faith

By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

Receiving Christ’s ministry as loving and nonviolent takes profound faith. It is tempting to take an aggressive, acquisitive attitude, hoarding resources as a hedge against life’s vicissitudes, rather than sharing with those in need. In addition, most people, when hit, would prefer to strike back than to offer the other cheek. Christians often try to have it both ways – making modest personal sacrifices that don’t seriously threaten their safety and well-being while avoiding situations that expose them to serious loss or harm. Their faith may prompt them to charity (as much as one is comfortably able) and trying to not be unkind (though feeling entitled to avenge perceived offenses and finding excuses for lifestyle choices that harm other individuals). Jesus’ faithfulness took him all the way to the cross. How many of us are prepared to do that?

Jesus’ faith did not stop at the cross. After the Resurrection, he returned as a forgiving victim rather than the character we so often see in action movies – the avenging victim. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, he faithfully expressed God’s love.

However, as discussed previously (see essays 81-84) having faith is a gift of grace, not something God expects of us. Therefore, Jesus criticized Saul (later Paul) for his persecution of Christians, not for his lack of faith in Christ. Paradoxically, much Christianity tends to focus on faith, and many theologians have asserted that faith, rather than works, justifies us. As Rev. Paul Neuchterlein has noted, this theology is actually a revised “works righteousness,” in that one must do the work of believing in Christ. This may sound simple on the surface, but it can be very difficult for those who struggle with life’s challenges.

Neuchterlein has also pointed out that, if believing in Jesus is the main thing about getting to heaven, there is little reason to come to church. Church is important because it is through the collective faith of the church community that people express the “faith of Christ,” supporting and inspiring each other.

James wrote, “So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” (2:17) I think that he meant to communicate that, if our faith fails to inspire us to do works of love, it is a dead faith. Indeed, James further explained, “I by my works will show you my faith” (2:18), and Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16, 20) How we live ultimately demonstrates what we believe. Consequently, what we eat (as well as many other choices we make) reflects what we believe. Next week, we explore Christian faith further.

Go on to: Part 98: Faith in the Living God
Return to: Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence Table of Contents
Return to: Christian Living Table of Contents