The Essentials of Faith: A Christian Perspective part 1

The Essentials of Faith: A Christian Perspective part 1
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About the Author

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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What is it to be a Christian?

In the Bible we see lots of different ways to be a Christian.
There’s the way of Peter, who actually denied Jesus, but then was welcomed by Jesus, and received spiritual authority.
There’s the way of John, who was just so full of love for Jesus that he didn’t feel a need to doubt, or to investigate, or to think critically, but just experienced the joy of faith.
There’s the way of Thomas, who was curious and skeptical, and didn’t want to believe in Jesus just on the say-so of others, but wanted his own evidence.
There’s the way of the disciple called Cleopas, who met Jesus in a stranger during a walk, and didn’t even realize it was Jesus until they had a meal together.
There’s Phoebe, who led a church in a town in Greece. There’s Lydia, a businesswoman and a merchant who served her Christian calling by being faithful and honest in her business. There’s Dorcas, who cared for the widows and the poor.
And throughout the rest of the bible, and the history of the Church, there are many others.

But I think there are three essentials that may mark your journey.

First, and hardest is to forgive, and to allow yourself to be forgiven.
When Jesus meets with the disciples after the resurrection, he soon says to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive someone’s sins, they’re gone for good. If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”

What indeed? Are we going to carry other people’s sins on our shoulders, weighing us down?

Forgiveness is perhaps the hardest virtue to practice, and Christians are not the only ones to struggle with it on our faith journeys.

I think especially of the parents of a young man killed in Iran. His attacker was sentenced to hang ten days ago. According to Sharia law, his mother and father were given the task of kicking the chair out from under him.

Overcome by grief, they supported each other as they moved toward the scaffolding. The blindfolded man had a noose around his neck and was crying, begging for forgiveness. The mother climbed up to look at him and slapped him hard. And then … she and her husband removed the noose around his neck. According to Sharia law, the victim’s parents were the only ones who could forgive him. The killer later described the slap as “the space between revenge and forgiveness.”

All the major world faiths have something wise to say about forgiveness — from the Baha’i teaching to love people for the sake of God and not for their imperfect selves, to the Buddhist teaching that practicing forgiveness prevents harmful thoughts from causing havoc on one’s own mental health, to the Jewish teaching that one should apologise three time to the one who has been harmed in order to seek forgiveness.

This is something you will have to practice your whole lives long — Christian community exists in part to assist in this. But remember, Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” You have God’s help, and God’s example of forgiving you.

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