For anyone who proclaims to be a person of faith, you understand the cyclical nature of practicing your beliefs, day in and day out. How it can feel, perhaps more often than not, as if faith takes more work than it is worth. Believe in something you cannot see, hear, touch, or otherwise physically experience? Really? Science appeals to so many of us because it is, essentially, the only truly known thing in the universe. We know gravity binds us to the earth, but do we really know, definitively, that god is God?
Can you answer, for certain, that you got that job because you were blessed? Or, were you simply the best man for the position? Can you argue that you just ran a red light and did not get hit by oncoming traffic because God had His hand on you? Definitively? Without trying to validate your “reality” with the party line of the modern-day Christian? REALLY?
Welcome to 21st-Century life. There is not a single person, secular and believers alike, whom can claim any one truth of existence other than what is seen, heard, felt, and experienced. Faith now takes earnest effort. It takes gumption. You now compete, as a believer, with the iPhone 5. To persist in a world of the experience, you must believe better than the other guy. You must do better, own nicer things, and give more money to charity. These are experience; these things prove you have a foundation. You are basically decent, pay your taxes, and put a $5 in the offering each week. You pray, albeit distracted, but at least you mutter a few dear God’s each night before bed – right before playing Angry Birds on the iPad for an hour.
As a collective, what have we allowed faith to become? Propaganda for the rightest and brim fire for those whose only belief system is the obstinate defense of progressivism. We have become weak believers. Feigning it means more than the measly efforts we put forth for appearances. We pretend to care about the child’s face in the pamphlet from World Vision under our pews once a year, but how many of us really give of our time and resources to help just one child? Would that not be an experience? Can we not exchange the good with the bad and experience something meaningful, life-changing even, at the expense of our time and resources? Oh, but giving and generosity (or lack of it) – that is just a ripple in the glass ocean behind a tsunami. We need a revolution!
Driving to work today it occurred to me that I was singing along to a song on KLove. The song is called “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave. Since I first heard it a few months ago, it has remained a deeply personal and impacting song for me. Illustrating so poignantly where I often reside – the place where I think I am too broken for a healing God to notice me and make me whole again. As I sang it at the top of my voice, I realized it has been months since I even flipped through Christian radio.
That made me think even deeper: Why?
What am I afraid of?
God does not abandon, and yet, I allowed myself the choice – the right by the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil – to choose something else, anything else, before God. Before my faith. I realized, so humbly, that my faith lacks because I crave the experience of faith more than the intimate relationship with God faith could bring if I was doing this right. I yearn for the sight, the sounds, and the experience of a God whom not only sees me, but cradles me in His embrace. And yet, as with so many others, when I pray, I hear nothing, I see nothing… My experience is void of reaction, and my patience for anything is wearing thin.
I asked myself today, “What does your faith look like to you?” Immediately, my response was quite bitter – I want reaction. I want a response, a sign… Something concrete and credible. Something I can hang my hat on and definitely argue that this… this right here, this is my faith. This is my faith in experience, not just in Scripture.
I want to give without expectation of receiving anything in return, and yet, my “faith” is most often strong when there is a reward for sharing it. I want to experience more than the party line of my fellow believers, and finally start living up to the words we murmur in Church. I want my children to have a foundation in things above this world. To be thankful they see, touch, hear, and experience this great green earth, but that the merit of their person rests in who they are in Christ. Beautiful people, worthy of love and forgiveness.
I want, personally, to live my faith, not just remember it when a great song streams through my speakers.
I need to be better than the modern-day Christian. Say less, do more. Give love instead of judgment. Stand up to scrutiny and stop hiding behind a veil of an open mind. That part of me fails even to portray that I may believe foundationally any different than what is most important to me. I can use the gifts of this world to illustrate the beautiful creation God has made – not the birds or the waters and mountains – but man and woman.
We all have a choice to make each day we arise from our slumber. We may say we believe in patience but then cuss out the butt to the driver ahead who is slowing down traffic. We may say we care about the kids in Africa but then we turn a blind eye when a young boy starves on the streets. We may portray ourselves as believers, but we have become closeted faithers in a world where what you see is what you get.
I want to rise above that central theme of status quo long enough to enjoy the view so I can figure out who to pull up with me. Out of the mire of weak faith, and into a world that says we are wrong because we choose to believe in what we cannot see.
We cannot prove, like the fallen apple from Newton’s arrow, that what we believe is definitive; we can, however, prove that those of us who practice our faith with strength, integrity, focus, and perseverance can actually change the world. We can bump the iPhone 5 out of first place in popularity and finally realize that we have been given the most incredible, informative, and sufficient manuscript of how to do life right. We can change this world…
But faith needs to mean more than what we perceive it is worth. We must choose to see the glory of God in the eyes of children, and to help others when they need our care, time, and resources. We must abandon the notion that faith is a passive, easily redeemable accessory to life that only comes up when we are in emotional or mental trouble. We must choose to honor God, by believing, and practicing our faith, no matter what anyone else may argue is “right” for us.
We must change the world one bowed knee at a time. Make it count. Make something happen so that faith is never again just another thing we have to keep up with. But, instead, a daily appreciation for what we have, while simultaneously learning how to do without the things we only have for the sake of impressing someone else. We must work together, support one another, and find peace and harmony in ourselves – because we will be getting it from God directly.
That is as real as anything. Real as gravity. I just cannot prove it. But, if I am not alone on this quest, perhaps we can, after all, show this world that there is more to this faith thing that merely meets the eyes.