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FAITH: Five ways to live a Christian life

Whatever you do, be kind and respectful of the paths others choose
Robin Pengelly is the pastor of Castlegar United Church.

Submitted by Rev. Robin Pengelly

As graduation approaches for many in our community, I am inspired to review the question, “How should I live my life?” This isn’t just a question for young people leaving high school, college, or university. It is a question everybody can keep asking themselves. Am I doing what I am supposed to be? Is what I am doing giving life to myself and others?

Each person is gifted by the Creator in some way. Those gifts vary from person to person and also through the different phases of our lives. Each of us has our own personal journey. Figuring out, or discerning how we are called to use our gifts is important to Christian living.

There are a few places in the Bible that talk about this idea. Romans 12:6-8 names the gifts of prophecy, ministry, teaching, encouragement, giving, leadership, and compassion. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 also names the gifts of healing and wisdom. An important common thread to these passages is that none of these gifts are more important than the others. All are equally valuable.

One of my professors in seminary, Rev. Janet Gear, named five operative theologies found within communities of faith, which I find apply to individuals as well. Each theology is a legitimate way to focus your gifts and faith. You will probably live with a little of each in your life, but one or two are likely to dominate your activities and choices.

There is an evangelical theology, meaning a focus on sharing the good news of God’s love with other people so they might find their own path to transformation. Next is an ecclesial theology, meaning a focus on church services, worship, and teaching or learning about God together. A missional theology means going out and being present where the need is, like volunteering in soup kitchens and offering practical help.

An ecumenical theology will see you working for broad social change, justice, and peace, with others, in groups or in government. And finally there is a spiritual theology, where you open your life to more wisdom and holiness, often through prayer, meditation, and contemplation.

None of these different theologies are more important or more correct than the others. Your focus will just depend on the gifts you have, and how they relate to the gifts of the people around you. Whatever you do, be kind and respectful of the paths others choose.

Robin Pengelly is the pastor of Castlegar United Church.