And yet, I am also reminded that for the majority of Christians, theological and Biblical learning ends at the 6th grade level, after confirmation. Most Christians stop learning about their faith in a deliberate intentional way once faith requires sacrifice and experience. In the midst of hard times, God is often rejected or misunderstood. When the Bible contradicts itself, folks often throw in the towel and say it is too confusing. In a time where prayers are not answered, God is perceived to be absent.
Unfortunately, if we stop there, our faith gets stuck. Without persistent relationship with God through study, service and community, most Christians get stuck in what is a stage of faith called "synthetic - conventional faith, seen in ages 12 to 20. The mountain top moment of faith where one affirms the question "Are You Saved?" or an equivalent experience of accepting the love of Christ, is not the end. There is another question which permeates the rest of our faith journey "Are You Changed?"
As I listened to the stories of these ordination candidates, I was reminded how beautiful it is when persons pursue God relentlessly in order to be changed. These candidates have walked through stage after painful stage of their faith growth. Questioning and doubt led to struggle and despair, which led to vulnerability and wisdom, which led to insight and hope. I heard from these candidates how intentional pursuit of faith led them through death and discouragement, rejection and hopelessness. Their stories revealed how character and perseverance in times of uncertainty allows faith to reign. Yes, the faith of these candidates changed through these experiences, because they allowed it to do so.
As a result, they will never be the same. Their lives have been changed by the constant and intentional pursuit of Jesus Christ. Our founder, John Wesley, called this "going on to perfection." It does not mean we become perfect in all we do, but rather that we become more fully transformed by the perfect love of Christ.
This week in our Scripture we are going to hear how Jesus calls for change, and the response of people who were not ready to hear it. This is a good passage for us today, in the reminder that God continues to call us for change as well.
I hope that you will come on Sunday to hear Jesus' message, to show up intentionally, and ready for the power of Christ's word to offer you change.
You are a blessing,