To follow up on what I wrote last week, Jesus desires relationship with us more than watching us be busy with religious activity. Notice I am not saying that activity is bad; rather, it needs to be the happy by-product of knowing and loving Jesus, following and obeying as He leads. How sad it is when our busy activity distracts and disconnects us from our Lord!
In his commentary on John’s Gospel, Gary M. Burge writes:
Faith, then, is more a matter of relationship than of creed. (p. 577, discussing John 20)
Now, I don’t think the author is bashing creeds, confessions, or catechisms. I think what he is saying is that faith is more than only storing the correct information in your head and being able to let it pour out of your mouth. Not that knowledge and speaking up are useless; it’s just that those abilities do not necessarily equal having true faith.
I think the Reformed tradition has accurately (though perhaps excessively) been accused of focusing too much on the head and too little on the heart. Granted, there’s something appealing to sticking exclusively with intelligence: You can convince yourself that you have mastered it as you would a course at school; you can appraise and judge other people and traditions by how closely they believe the same things you do; you are less vulnerable than when emotions get involved. Unfortunately, keeping faith as only a cerebral thing can result in us keeping Jesus at arm’s length. I guess there’s something appealing about that, too: We’ll feel we can avoid following Him when He leads where we don’t want to go. But we’ll also miss out on deeply experiencing His power and enjoying His close friendship.
Here again is Dr. Burge’s comment in the context of its paragraph:
Faith, then, is more a matter of relationship than of creed. On occasion it means accepting that a message given is true and trustworthy, but for the most part, faith springs from confidence in the works Jesus has done and results in a desire to invest all hope in Him. Faith is personal and transforming since it is dependent on a Person who has demonstrated Himself powerful and trustworthy. It is the decision whereby a person gains eternal life and … become[s] a child of God, and so marks himself or herself as a member of Jesus’ community.