There is a great difference in excellency, usefulness, and comfort between people of clear, digested knowledge, and confused, undigested apprehensions. -Richard Baxter

the mathematics of faithfulness

one of you asked a very important question after Sunday’s lesson, and after you’d listened to Keller’s comments on how the Gospel has to be handled in present circumstances: does this mean I have to wait to get all that under my belt before I can share my faith at all?

I certainly understand the frustration hearing all that might elicit. It may feel like we’re saying you need to be able to compete at the Olympic level before you can swim with anybody in the pool. Or, more to the point, it might seem as if you need to be degreed in theology, sociology, social work, and interpersonal communication before you can be faithful to be “salt and light.”

asymptote.jpgNot so. I think we lined out Sunday what it is we’re all to aspire to in our grasp of the Gospel, but it’s not as if that summit we all seek to reach is the bare minimum required for living and speaking faithfully. Remember that concept in high school math, the asymptote? It was a curve that approached a line more and more the further out it went, but never ended up touching the line. That we must grasp the essential content of the Gospel, and then have it be realized, urbanized, and communicated progressively represents that line we’ll never reach but may always approach. And yet, we’re still on the curve plotted out for us. To be in Christ is to be on that curve and therefore capable of being faithful by virtue of having been assigned to His designs for His children.

Keller knows the culture well and therefore lined out what’s becoming increasingly necessary for Christians in their efforts to make the Gospel plain to their surrounding culture. But that does not mean that everyone we’ll encounter will require an elementary course in a biblical world view in order to give a clear, intelligible, credible, plausible explanation of the Gospel. Nor does it mean you need to enter a monastery for the next 3 years to be sufficiently equipped for gospel-service.

All to say, be not overwhelmed by what seems an impossible height to reach in living faithfully. Our Father sets the bar as high as His own holiness for us. For that is His design for us. But we need only return to the fact that He had to send His own Son to bring us life to be reminded that we are desperately unable to remedy our lack apart from His help. “Apart from me, you can do nothing.”

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