What faith in Jesus looks like has a lot to do with our understanding of the gospel. If we limit the gospel to the plan of personal salvation, then faith means trusting Jesus as Savior.
However, if we see the gospel as God becoming King on earth as He is in heaven, then faith means trusting Jesus as Savior and Lord (a.k.a. King). Now Christianity becomes all about obedience and allegiance, rather than mental affirmation of information. Discipleship is a natural outflow of this kind of faith, rather than an unnatural persuasion that feels more like a square peg being jammed into a round hole.
Now the purpose of life for Christ-followers becomes making God King on earth as much as we can until Jesus comes back and finishes the job.
Making God King on earth begins with me making God King of my life. And that is going to take some work.
It begins by looking again at Jesus’ gospel. I must understand what Jesus’ message meant to his original hearers if I am going to have any chance of properly contextualizing it for my life today.
Mark 1:14-15 is a good place to start:
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”
N.T. Wright writes in The Challenge of Jesus on the original meaning of repent:
Martin Luther … insisted that the word [metanoeite] referred originally to the “repentance” that takes place deep within the human heart, not in the outward actions prescribed as a quasi-punishment. He could not know that his reading would be used, in turn, to support an individualistic and pietistic reading of Jesus’ command to repent, which does no justice at all to the meaning of the word in the first century. Jesus was summoning his hearers to give up their whole way of life, their national and social agendas, and to trust him for a different agenda, a different set of goals. This of course included a change of heart, but went far beyond it. (p.27)
This is a much bigger, and demanding, vision of repent than I am used to or comfortable with. For the last however many years we have created an elaborate and comprehensive Christian sub-culture and christened it good. But, Jesus’ message is not live sub-culturally. It is live counter-culturally.
Maybe we need to have some conversations where nothing is off the table.
Maybe we should figure out what our relationship with (and faith in) the stock market, government, armed forces, insurance policies, social services, and technology (just to get us started) should look like.
Maybe we should look again at what it means to be the church, to eat with sinners, to be a blessing, to carry each others burdens, to give and live generously, to sacrifice and suffer for Christ (just to get us started).
And maybe then we should move from conversation to action.
Putting faith in Jesus as King is a lot bigger than it first looks. May our King empower us to live as His people and carry out the mission He has given us.