Chapter 3 – Salvation as Adventure

From the book: “Resident Aliens – A Provocative Christian Assessment of Culture and Ministry for People Who Know That Something is Wrong.” By Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon.

The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason (1685-1815), radically reoriented European and Western politics, philosophy, science, and religion. Thinkers of the time questioned traditional authority and embraced the notion that humanity could be improved through rational change. These thinkers believed that this would produce people who would become free. It led to both the American and French revolutions. As a result, Christians sought to reposition their faith along rational lines, and deists and materialists argued the universe seemed to determine its own course without God’s intervention.

However, rather than freedom, we got self-centeredness, superficiality, consumerism, and loneliness. Today’s church has rejected and diluted its biblical standards and spiritual virtues to the point non-believers have virtually nothing to disbelieve or rebel against. Today, unbelief is a promoted and socially acceptable way of life. It again takes bravery to be a faithful believer.

“Jesus Christ is the supreme act of divine intrusion into the world’s settled arrangements.” (p. 51)

As a colony, our biblical story demands action rather than complacency. The message that preserves the colony is primarily a message for the world. Like Abraham, Moses, and Joshua of the Old Testament and the disciples of the New Testament, the Christian colony is a people of action on the move. This movement saves us by:

  1. Placing us in an adventure that is God’s purpose for the entire world.
  2. Training us as a people to live our lives in truth rather than falsehood.
  • On the Road Again

“The Bible is fundamentally a story of a people’s journey with God. Scripture is an account of human existence as told by God. In Scripture, we see that God is taking the disconnected elements of our lives and pulling them together into a coherent story that means something. When we lack such a truthful, coherent account, life is likely to be perceived as disconnected, ad hoc. In trying to make sense of life, when we lack a coherent narrative, life is little more than a lurch to the left, a lurch to the right.” (p. 53)

Just like Abraham, it was in faith that he began his pilgrimage. Just like Moses, it was in faith that he returned to Egypt to lead the Children of Israel out of bondage. Just like the disciples, it was faith that enabled them to follow Jesus. None of them knew of the ultimate destination nor the challenges they would encounter, but they had faith in who they were following.

It is from these stories that we can develop faith in the journey to which God is calling us. Rather than try to describe God, we can recall the stories of the journeys of those in the past who have faithfully followed God. As humans, it really is the only way we can comprehend what it means to walk with God on life’s journey.

It is from the stories told by the disciples, who initially physically walked with Jesus and later spiritually walked with Jesus, that we can begin to understand living our lives in the same manner. We come to realize the cosmic, eternal significance of our lives as part of God’s larger account of history. People of God do not let the world dictate how they live their lives. Each of us is running a small portion of the relay race of God’s creation. Only then can we understand ourselves and be redeemed and empowered to live Christ centered lives.

“The church gives us all sorts of new opportunities to experience the depth of God’s love, giving our lives direction we would otherwise lack.” (p.59)

  • The Virtues of Adventure

Our society does not know where it is headed. We no longer have a story that draws us together as a people. In fact, there are those who are trying to delete the stories that have brought us to this point in our history. With no story and no community, the next generation has no one to guide them nor to look to for guidance. With no history and no known destination, everyone is just lost, wandering in the wilderness. A similar loss of biblical literacy is occurring within the church.

Christian ethics depend on the biblical story. We are on an adventurous journey that requires a certain set of spiritual virtues. Christian ethics is the identification, collection, and teaching of those virtues needed along our journey. These biblical stories present the ethics and virtues that define and guide us as a colony through the morass of the world.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2, ESV)

We are called to see ourselves as part of God’s story. Even though we know there will be challenges, being part of the story teaches us patience. We must develop and maintain trust among one another for when these challenges arise. The stability of life in the Christian colony goes beyond our life in the colony. It impacts the entirety of our lives as well.

“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among the gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.” (1 Peter 2:11-12, NRSV)

  • People with a Cause

God invites us to see ourselves and our lives as part of His story (history). This produces a people with a cause. Another way to see this is that we, the church, are the body of Christ.

“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:5, ESV)

Our intimate involvement in God’s true story brings freedom.

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’ They answered him, ‘We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free”?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.’” (John 8:31-36, ESV)

We often believe we must compete rather than cooperate to be of value or successful. The Gospel frees us from acting out of fear that we are nobody.

“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (James 3:14-16, ESV)

Members of the Body of Christ share a common bond with all other Christians, regardless of background, race, or denomination. There should be no division in the body. All its parts should have equal concern for each other.

“Our enemies, our wider society, our past, cannot define us or determine the significance of who we are, since God in Christ has already done that for us.” (p. 67)

We are a people with a cause: to live an adventure of love for God and neighbor (Luke 10:27).

As a bonus, check out the following video about an adventurous life.

Does God Speak to You? (16:11) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-MIrDCipTQ 

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