Faith isn’t based on our pursuits
but on our being pursued.
Here’s a question for Christians: do you enjoy the adventure of following Christ? Or is your faith placid? And, if placid, would you accept something livelier?
The premise of the question—that faith involves adventure—may be a novel notion! Let’s think about it. Then let’s ask about how to find more in life.
But first, what do we mean by adventure? I’m not thinking of theme park thrills—with the adrenalin-rush rides, plunges and splashes—or the drama of music fests, lively media, or video-gaming; or even the pleasures of traveling to exotic new places on a holiday trip. Let’s consider, instead, the adventure of knowing God.
Here’s the point: the best adventures in life always come through a “who” rather than a “what” or a “where”. Think, for instance, of the way certain relationships can create a sense of adventure—a man whose delight in his wife stirs him to write a tender note, or to offer an unexpected invitation to a favorite restaurant. Or a mother taking her young child out for an afternoon walk. Events like this might not qualify for an adventure movie but for the particular couple or the child it brings the delight of being loved and responding in kind.
The “who” of our faith adventure starts with Christ and grows through worship. Colin Gunton wrote, wisely, that worship “is relational, something that happens between persons” and it begins in God himself so that “the happening between persons is worship in the Son and through the Spirit” [Trinitarian Theology Today, 5]. Gunton’s point, in part, is that the Spirit unites us to Christ in his manhood; and Christ as God brings us into his relationship with the Father; and the culmination for us is worship.
This worship—not the mere label but the adventure itself—is where real life thrives. We only know ourselves truly when we know God, our maker, and he captures us. He created us “in Christ” by his love for eternal communion. We were made by him and for him; and our union with him promises unending joy.
Think of it as a process of spiritual development that mimics and surpasses our physical growth—our original transformation from a miniscule embryo into a walking, talking adult. We all experience an adventure in growing—in probing and discovering who we are and how we fit. So, too, in knowing Christ the Spirit gifts us—equips us—for a unique and dynamic role in Christ’s Body, the church. This transformation—our movement from mere potential into maturity—is an ultimate adventure.
It becomes increasingly lively as Christ, in his love, invites us to reciprocate that love and then to share it with our neighbors. He moves us to give ourselves away as an act of worship birthed in delight and expressed by good works. The great adventure of life is to meet and enjoy God. And to find out in him who we are.
How does this sort of faith get started? By realizing that real adventure always depends on God’s initiative. Faith isn’t based on our pursuits but on our being pursued. Our faith looks to an adventurous companion: to Jesus. If we look for adventure as an end in itself we actually debase our divine design. And whatever stirs us apart from God’s love becomes idolatrous and addictive: it denies God’s engaging grace and accepts the Enemy’s enslaving lie that we can live happily without God. The truth is that only in Christ will we find the life and liveliness we all long for—the adventure of being cared for by the ultimately creative person.
Are you ready, then, for something livelier? If you are, take these two steps. Do both from the heart and I can promise you—based on the Scriptures and validated by the joy I’ve found in my own tentative steps—that you’ll be on your way to more joy in life than you can imagine.
First, come to Christ as a real person. Quit treating him like a religious icon and tell him you want to know him; and then embrace him by going to the place where he’s always available: to the Scriptures. Ask him then, in your reading, to open the eyes of your heart to hear and see him.
Second, tell Jesus you want the best he has to offer—whatever that might mean and wherever it might take you. If you “abide in my word” and “abide in my love” [John 8:31 & 15:9] as the context for this request, hold on! That’s what you were made to do—it’s a real faith—and it engages God’s initiative of love in his Son. And as you respond to his love it’s because the Spirit himself is the one stirring that response.
Are you open to these steps? Good! Now, hold on tight, pray, and let the adventure begin!
Thoughts? You are invited to comment on Ron’s article at Cor Deo.
Dr. Ron Frost
Ron served on faculty for more than 20 years at Multnomah Bible College and Biblical Seminary. At the seminary, from 1995-2007, he was professor of historical theology and ethics. He earned his PhD at King’s College of the University of London. His research featured Richard Sibbes (1577-1635). He now teaches internationally while serving as a pastoral care consultant to missionaries with Barnabas International. Ron authored Discover the Power of the Bible and writes on spreadinggoodness.org [See “Resources”].