Faddish Faith

Fads exist everywhere, music comes to mind. Do we expect to hear Justin Beiber or Keisha songs being played on over the air waves 20 years from now on a classics channel? Fads are not only in music they are obvious in fashion as well.

Image via wikipedia.com

I remember as a 7th grader the awesome fad (in my 7th grade opinion) of “tight rolling” your jeans. This was true art in middle school. It was taking the jeans pants leg and pulling it out to the side and folding it over and then rolling it where the jeans fit tightly around the ankle. This fad was being rocked at its peak if you could pull it off with a pair of white Guess jeans with the triangle on the pocket. It was incredibly awesome. Unfortunately, this fad did not last. If I tried to pull that look off today I would probably sit alone a lot at public functions. It was a fad. It was cool for about 15 minutes and then it was just silly, and now it is a tad embarrassing.

If you have heard or seen any statistics over the years you know that for many teenagers their faith is a fad. For some it is simply something they toy with in high school, abandon in college, and for some never return to. Thankfully, it is not this way for all. I personally was saved at 17 and God is still growing and teaching me today. However, the sad reality is that for some their faith is simply not genuine, not lasting. It fails to produce lasting fruit. Some blame the church for this. They blame the church for pushing people away, being legalistic, unloving, judgmental, and uncaring. While the church is full of imperfect people who make mistakes daily, let’s not fail to realize that the church is not the author nor the finisher of faith. The bottom line is that Jesus is Savior and Sustainer, and he finishes what he starts. God certainly works through His people and the Christian community is the context in which our faith is lived out but Jesus has never had to say “oops.” While the church needs to seek to be loving and authentic and it needs to concern itself with those that wander from the truth; we must remember that for someone to have an enduring faith that is not merely a fad it must be genuine faith. So, we need not only ask questions about how we treat people but also how we share the message. In emphasizing life change are we also emphasizing that this only comes through believing the gospel? Are we truly preaching the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ? We can talk about “turning a life over to God” or “living for God” or “being on fire for God” but those are generic terms that do not communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ that is essential for true life change.

Some music is classic and will be played for decades, some fashions never go completely out of style. Genuine saving faith is not a teenage years fad, it is a lasting transformation wrought by the Holy Spirit when one truly believes the gospel. Let us not settle for anything less in our churches.

The Fear of Failure

At one time or another we have all thought, “what if I can’t do it?”  “What if I fail?” “Am I making the right decision?” The fear of failure is something everyone struggles with to some degree.  It’s pretty simple why we fear failure, because we know we have failed and probably will again at some point.  While it is true we are all sinful, it is also true that we are all fallible.  We aren’t perfect, we make mistakes.  So how do we deal with this issue?

I don’t know if Joshua in the Bible struggled with this fear, but I do know that in Joshua 1 God challenges and encourages Joshua and the things He shares with Joshua are a great remedy to this fear.  God had been preparing Joshua to take over after Moses’ death for a long time.  It was Joshua who traveled a portion of the way up Mt. Sinai when Moses’ went to meet with God.  It was Joshua who was 1 of the 12 chosen to scope out Canaan, and he was one of only 2 with a good report that would get to see the Promise Land.  He was greatly prepared.  But imagine being Joshua, you are following Moses! One of the greatest leaders in history! One can only imagine the weight he may have felt going from being Moses’ assistant to the leader of God’s people.  So what would God say to him as he launched out to lead the people of God?

[5] “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. [6] Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. [7] Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. [8] This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. [9] Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:5-9 ESV)

God tells Joshua to “be strong and courageous.” Based on what?  Based on his experience?  Based on his abilities, talents, and gifts?  No, it was based on one simple fact.  God would be with him. God’s presence would be with Joshua.  God’s power would be with Joshua, hence no man being able to “stand before” him.  God simply asked him to be strong, God was providing the strength and to be courageous and God was giving him the reason.  God only asked that in his new journey he be obedient, specifically in regards to the Law.

We need to redefine failure.  Failure to the world and to God can look very different.  The world desires achievement. God desires obedience.  God is not seeking superstar salesmen, famous preachers, and award-winning doctors.  God is seeking an obedient people, who are confident in God’s abilities more than their own.

Many times I wonder if our fear of failure is actually a sign of over confidence in the flesh or at the very least a lack of faith and focus on God.  We must get our eyes off of ourselves and set them on the one who is “with us” and “will not forsake” us.  How could you not want to obey a God like that?  He is worthy of our obedience. And when we obey we do not fail.

Is Heaven a “Fairy Story?”

Image Via photosfan.com/Stephen-Hawking

Dr. Stephen Hawking is regarded by many as one of the smartest people in the world.  As a scientist his research is well-respected by many.  On Monday I read an article where Hawking called Heaven and the afterlife, “a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.” For those who don’t know Hawking suffers from “motor neurone disease.”  One of the effects of the disease is that e is unable to speak without the aid of a voice synthesizer, he also suffers from being paralyzed to a great degree.  Hawking apparently has admitted according to the article that at least one of the reasons he is taking such a negative view of Heaven and God is the suffering of his own disease.  The sad reality is that the Gospel offers hope to all of us who have been impacted by sin.  There is coming a day when all believers in Christ will be gloriously be transformed and sin will be done away with along with all its effects.  There will be no sickness, no pain, no suffering.  We believers will in fact have a glorified body designed to live forever in perfect health so that we can worship and serve God without hindrance for all eternity.  I’m thankful that Heaven is no “fairy story for those afraid of the dark.” It’s as real as God, as real as Christ, and as certain as His resurrection.  Stephen Hawking has suffered much in this life and I only pray that he will be surrounded by Christians who would be faithful to share the truth while not looking for a fight.  When we hear words like Hawking’s coming from someone with much influence in the scientific world it may be easy for one to get in “fight” mode and to say things that are mean-spirited.  Even biblical truth can be shared in an un-biblical spirit.  Paul taught if one doesn’t teach, preach, share, and minister in love they are simply a clanging symbol.  No doubt most of us will never meet Stephen Hawking, but many of us will meet people like Hawking.  People who think they have it figured out, people who have been impacted by experiencing or witnessing suffering in this world, and people who scoff at the idea of God and Gospel.  In those moments we need to be a people who share the truth in a spirit of love.  May Hawking’s life be impacted by many who believe in what he calls a “fairy story.”  Let’s pray that God would open his eyes and those like him to truth of the Gospel so that He can know our great God and have no reason to be afraid of eternal darkness.