I took a week off to be in Tennessee for Thanksgiving visiting family. I missed this. I missed sitting in JJ’s, eating my breakfast sandwich and writing down what is on my mind. It’s good to be back. Routine is good. It’s comforting, you know. It allows you to feel purposed, like you are going to accomplish something today. It’s predictable and predictable is in short supply these days. Routine is as welcome as my favorite comfort food or my reliable Cariloha (shameless plug) lounging pants/sweatshirt on a cold night.
Another thing in short supply this year is sustainable faith. I spend way too much time on social media for someone who wears their heart on their sleeve. I hurt for my friends struggling with depression, health issues, wayward children, job loss, death, and other trying and tumultuous occurrences. At the center of all of these situations, everyone is asking the same question…..”Why?” Believers and non-believers alike are questioning why things are happening to them. They have asked why such a loving God would allow them to suffer. For many believers, 2020 has shaken their faith to the core and for the non-believer, it has driven a wedge even further between them an accepting the idea that there is a God who loves them.
Now, 2020 has been anything but a minor event, but you have to wonder how our faith has been rattled so violently- some to the point of walking away for good. There will be time when your faith will be tested and it will legitimately be difficult to see to the worth of surrendering your entire life to God just to drag yourself through the muck of a sinful world. So how do believers latch on to a faith that may be rattled, but stands strong through any storm that is thrown its way? Likewise, how do we share the gospel of a loving God during such a difficult time to live? The answer isn’t easy to digest and its one that I am constantly working through and growing from. I believe we lose faith in Christ as the answer because the faith we have in Him was misplaced or wasn’t genuine to begin with. We placed our faith in a “genie in a bottle” and once the first sign of trouble happens, life doesn’t go our way, or the first prayer isn’t answered the way we want, then we dismiss Him like a fad diet that didn’t work.
I will be the first to admit that my faith is shaken every now and then. The profession to which I am called does not make me immune from periods of doubt. I think the key to sustainable faith is getting back to the foundational word of God. There we will find a faith that lasts, that stands up against anything, and a God in whose plan we can trust no matter how tough things get. In this media saturated age, we can find clips and snippets of “preachers” who will tell us exactly what we want to hear. This isn’t a new phenomenon- we’ve seen it for years- it’s called church hopping (going to a church until they step on your toes and then find another to tickle your ears), the internet has just made it convenient to do it from your home. They will give emotionally charged messages about how you can be David and slay your giants. Which will have you pumped up & ready to run through a wall by the end. The problem is- we aren’t David in that story, Jesus is. Like everything else, the story is about Christ, not us. The truth is the Bible will convict you. It will step on your toes and it will make you constantly re-evaluate how you’re living your life; and quite frankly we don’t like that. The Bible, however, also heals. It comforts and it guides. It reminds us that we don’t have to worry about the results because we are not in control of them. That is a faith that is sustainable because it’s not about doing the right thing or accomplishing a task, it’s about leaning on Christ who has taken care of it. Unsustainable faith tells us to “do,” but the Bible tells us it’s already done.
We don’t need a motivational speaker on Sunday mornings to get us pumped up like we are getting ready to play in the Super Bowl. We don’t need a smoke and light show or Sunday morning concert entertainment. We don’t need another religious TedTalk that uses the Bible as a reference. We need to let the Word of God speak and speak truth, to humble us. Sustainable faith is rooted in humility- humbleness before a creator and in our pursuit of holiness. To borrow from an idea given to pastors by author Jared Wilson, I think sustainable faith is found not in a religious, righteous “swagger”, but in a humble “limp”. The bottom line here is this- is the Bible all you need? Pastor and author, David Platt, gives us a chilling thought about where we have placed our faith. He said:
“What if we take away the cool music and cushioned chairs? What if the screens are gone and the stage is no longer decorated? What if the air conditioning is off and the comforts are removed? Would His Word still be enough for His people to come together?-David Platt
Sustainable faith comes not from a posture of expectation, but from a posture of surrender. Sustainable faith comes from grounding ourselves in the truth of God’s word, even when that truth is hard to swallow. Sustainable faith comes from building our foundation on the truth of God’s word, not the momentary emotion of a rehearsed speech or stirring motivational story. There will be more 2020’s in our lives. We will lose loved ones, we will hit speed bumps, we will have our faith tested. Are we preparing our faith to weather the storm? We see this imagery in Matthew 7:24-27, at the end of Jesus’s sermon on the mount. One house was built on the rock and the other was built on the sand. When the storm came, the one on the sand was destroyed, while the house on the rock stood firm- but remember…..they BOTH went through the storm. Sustainable faith is built on the truth of God’s word, anything else is…well, quite frankly, shifting sand.
In Christ Alone,
Rev. Bro. Coach