What is “live faith”? The phrase was used by Richard Loveless, a professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. He borrowed the term from both Barth and Brunner as they spoke of a “live orthodoxy”. To explain what it means, it’s good to think first about the dissonance between right beliefs we hold and actual right living.
Dissonance is what we all experience psychologically when what we believe doesn’t match up to what we actually experience.Take for instance a time when you bought something really expensive. Before the purchase and maybe even right after, you experienced something called “cognitive dissonance.” Here’s what it felt like psychologically… “Do I really need something this nice? Can I get by with something less expensive?” The job of marketers is to try and reduce that dissonance so that the belief (“I want that”) is similar to the experience (“I’m glad that I bought that”).
What Loveless reminds us is that we want to aim for is a life where we have right beliefs corresponding to a life that matches beliefs. And it’s not just that the two cohere together. There is an accompanying sense that this faith is “alive”. God must wake up the person who has been asleep. Loveless writes, “Live orthodoxy, is only found where the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of the heart and imparts a vision of the true God and the actual human condition. This vision changes the whole direction of life.
In Ephesians 5, Paul exhorts his readers to “walk”… “walk in love” (v.1), “walk as children of light” (v.8), and “be careful how you walk, not as unwise but as wise” (v15). The idea of walking carries with it the idea active abiding. It’s not so much of getting busy with God as much as it is to relationally and actively stay close to God. But in v.12 he quotes a common saying that calls for those sleeping to wake up! I believe that Paul is inviting believers who have fallen asleep to God to wake up to Him and to now walk closely with Him.
Why is this so important? Because one of the greatest temptations today is to fall asleep to God. The longer I’ve been a Christian the greater the temptation to take God for granted. We presume upon grace and treat God as something “nice” in our life but not necessary and sufficient to life itself. One doesn’t need to consciously ignore God to fall asleep to Him. One can get so “used” to God that they fill their lives with cliches, living safe within the confines of Orange County Christianity, even serving and doing the good that their heart is actually asleep to God.
What power could possibly wake a person who has been sleeping to God? It’s the gospel. The gospel doesn’t take bad people and make them nice. The gospel doesn’t take good people and make them better. The gospel takes dead people and makes them alive And I might add, it takes sleeping people and wakes them up.