My faith can be defined in two ways (at least). One is my religion in general, and that’s Christian. The other is my denomination, and that is the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). I’ll try to answer in both contexts.
The most important teaching in the Christian faith is that God loved this world so much that he gave us his only son, so that anyone who believes in him may not die, but may have eternal life (John 3:16). Now that statement might not mean much to non-Christians, but it means everything to me.
I believe that sin drives a wedge between us and God. Sinning is the spiritual equivalent of building a brick wall that separates us from our creator (in life and in death). We all do it, there’s no denying it, and we’re going to keep doing it no matter how hard we try to be a good person. In ancient Judaism, when the Temple was still standing, they sacrificed the best of what they had to God in order to cleanse themselves of sin. But the sins kept coming and sacrifices kept being made. When God’s son, Jesus, was born into this world, he became the final sacrifice for all of humanity. Now, instead of making animal and grain sacrifices for every sin we commit, we pray to God, in the name of Jesus, and ask to be forgiven. Because of God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice, we no longer have to live in a state of separation from God. And, when we die, we can live with him forever.
The most important teaching in my denomination — in my opinion — is that all people who accept Christ as their savior are saved, no matter their political positions, no matter how they worship, no matter how they are baptized, and no matter how different their interpretations of scripture are. All Christians of all denominations are one in our common faith in Jesus the Christ. That’s it. To us, that’s all that matters in the end.
Rev. Laura Hutchinson, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Faith begins and ends with Jesus Christ
There are many aspects of faith. In our everyday life, we use scripture, personal experiences and stories to talk about our faith without grasping the twist and turns of what the scriptures teach. We know the biblical definition of faith: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Luke teaches that faith saves and heals. Paul teaches that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Jesus teaches that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move mountains — nothing will be impossible.
Even with these scriptures we have questions about faith. How do I get faith? How do I know that I have faith? Do I still have faith when I believe and the mountain does not move or I’m not healed?
It boils down to this: The object of our faith is Jesus Christ, without his death and resurrection there is no hope, but because of his death we can have salvation and be saved no matter what our faith looks like. We hang in there even when the mountain does not move or when we don’t see faith operating in our lives. We still trust and believe in God, knowing that through Jesus our faith is working because he is the author and finisher of our faith.
Alberta McCrory, Gaines Chapel AME Church, Anniston
How to submit a question
Have a question to pose to our panel of local faith leaders? Send it to “Religion Roundtable,” Deirdre Long, Features Editor, The Anniston Star, P.O. Box 189, Anniston, AL 36202. Or email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.