One task that falls to every new believer is learning the vocabulary of faith. Each community of Christians uses special words to highlight ideas and even institutions it considers important, even vital. If you have ever puzzled over the meaning of “justification” or wondered what the “pen of inspiration” might be, you are in good company. Tens of thousands of new Adventists each year learn the language of this faith by listening to the rest of us, gathering up the shades of meaning, working out some sample definitions.
But some ideas are never fully grasped until they are lived. We come to know some vital biblical truths by seeing them enacted in the lives of Christians who show us by their deeds what words alone could never convey.
Say the word “grace” in a Sabbath school class, and a dozen voices will chorus back to you a classic definition: “unmerited favor.” But say “grace” in my ear, and I will tell you of a pivotal biblical idea that came to life when a brother in the faith expressed to me a kindness I had done nothing to deserve. I was at first puzzled by it, troubled by a love I had not earned. Slowly, I concluded through his living definition that this was what the Word was also describing. His kindness toward me resembled—faintly, indistinctly, to be sure—what God has done for me in Christ. I now rejoice even more in both God’s grace and his.
It is no lesser way to learn the truth when we learn it through the actions of fellow Christians. This is, in fact, how God intended it. The Spirit never planned that we should learn of grace, of mercy, or of forgiveness through theological dictionaries. Those whom Jesus calls “blessed” in the Sermon on the Mount are called that because they are the ones whom some Christian once forgave, to whom some believer showed mercy. They have become peacemakers because a believer once made peace with them. As the Word of God once was made flesh and dwelled among us to show us what the Father is like (John 1:14), so the ideas of the written Word must take on flesh before they truly come to life within us.
This month, become a living definition of the truths you carry in your heart.
I can assure you that someone will be watching, learning, and listening.