Wake-Up Call: Awakened People Trade in Transactional Religion for Transcendent Faith

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Hebrews 11:8–12 (NIV)

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

CONSIDER THIS

Yesterday we talked about the difference between striving and surrender and between commitment and consecration. Today I want to make a parallel kind of comparison and contrast many will find challenging and even off-putting.

There are at least two kinds of faith. The first faith is transactional faith. It can be brought down to two words: “Help me!” We find ourselves in a messed-up, mixed-up, chaotic world plagued by sin and death, and it touches every aspect of our lives, families, and communities. However, in the unparalleled prosperity of the United States of America, we can almost manage to insulate ourselves from our need through some combination of achievement and addiction. We vacillate between education and entertainment in an endless quest for the ephemeral experiences of the so-called good life, turning to the gods of self-help when they seem to suit our situation.

Somewhere along the way, either through the echoes of our childhood churches or faith-filled grandparents or some kind of midlife train wreck or tragedy, we wake up to our deep, insatiable need. By the mercy of God, we are found by the grace of God, and we wake up to his mysterious, transformational presence in this tragic world. We discover the two words and we begin speaking them in direct speech to God: “Help me!”

And God helps us. We develop a transactional religion, which grows into a personal sense of relationship with God and we begin to grow in the grace of God. We learn to depend on God as we bring him our needs and the needs of others, crying out with ever-growing confidence, “Help me!” While this is a good and necessary stage of faith, most people never go beyond it.

We get stuck, arrested in development, with lives consumed by the constant cares and concerns of our broken lives in this broken world. We do our best, striving to be committed, living in this old country on its terms while calling on the resources of heaven to help us endure it. Faith can become weary and even stale in this old country as we learn to endure what we can’t understand and to trust what we cannot see.

It brings us to the second kind of faith. Let’s call it transcendent faith. It, too, can be brought down to two words: “Have me!” This is the faith of surrender and consecration. Again, the greatest proverbial leap of faith is not from unbelief to belief, but from striving to surrender and from commitment to consecration. This is the faith of abandon. It comes from a deep place of holy discontent; an unwillingness to accept the world on any set of terms other than those of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It comes from an unwillingness to tolerate the gap between the promises and possibilities we see in the Word of God and the devastation and desolation in the world we live in.

Perhaps the best summary of transcendent faith comes from Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians when he said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). This way of transcendent faith is available to anyone but few take the invitation, and yet this is the faith that precedes great awakenings. This is the faith of impossible things. Hebrews 11, indeed, the whole of Scripture, overflows with portraits of “Have me!” faith. Consider the contours of such faith with a careful rereading of today’s text:

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

THE PRAYER

Our Father in heaven, here I am, thankful for and yet weary of transactional faith. I want this transcendent faith. Thank you for helping me over and over and over again. I will always ask you to help me. However, I am ready for a new prayer. I am ready to say to you, “Have me!” I want my life to be a transcendent touchpoint for your life. Come, Holy Spirit, and show me this new and “ever-newing” way of faith. Let it be said of us that we walk in a way of faith that produces impossible things. We pray in the name of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, amen.

THE QUESTIONS

How do you see the difference between transactional and transcendent faith; between the “Help me!” prayer and the “Have me!” prayer?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Jesus said, “I will build My ekklesia (the participatory town hall meeting in an ancient Greek city),” because He is the foundation of the city “whose architect and builder is God.” The ekklesia is the gathering where Christ-followers can practice transcendent faith and go beyond human order, hierarchy, and religion by learning to be aware of and obey the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit as together they surrender to the direct leadership and Headship of the risen Jesus.

    We saw this happen at New Room Conference yesterday. The Holy Spirit took over the meeting as the altar filled and people around the auditorium were obeying God’s leading while worshipping Him and/or ministering to one another. Then Jim Cymbala obeyed the prompting of God by laying down his closing keynote address so that the living Jesus could continue to head up the gathering and people could listen to Him and do whatever He told them to. It was an awesome manifestation of “the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

    God’s True House (His True City)

    It’s time to let Jesus build
    The house of the Lord,
    A habitation for Him,
    Made out of “living stones,”
    People connected heart-to-heart.
    Let’s cultivate an environment
    Where Jesus can reign supreme
    And can override our human need
    To have our will be done,
    Where no one can steal the show
    And everyone present will know
    That Jesus, God’s risen Son,
    Is the only one in control.
    Lord “stir up the spirit” of Your people
    To begin to work on the house of the Lord.
    (Haggai 1:14.)
    Search: Beyond Church Ekklesia.

  2. Transactional faith = Resignation to living a less than perfect life that we have little to no control over and asking God to give us sufficient grace to endure it to the end. And in return, we promise to remain faithful.
    Transcendent faith= Total surrender to God’s Holy will. Take Lord, receive all that I am, my will and all that I possess. Transform me into the image of your Son. Lord, live your life through me by enabling me to participate in your divine nature. In Jesus’s name, amen.

  3. A “having me” cry to Christ is the only Way to the “help me” solution.
    Faith is “living as if it is so, even when it’s not so, for it to be so because God said so.”
    Faith is a verb.
    We mature in Christ by allowing Him to serve others through us.
    I must be attuned to where Jesus wants to lead me instead of taking Him where I want to go.
    I don’t want to end up in the belly of a whale.
    Learning.

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