For the sake of argument, let’s assume there are 4 Sundays in a month and you attend church each of those Sundays and then you also attend the church’s monthly outreach event. Let’s also for the sake of argument say there are 30 days in a month. This leaves 25 days throughout each month where your faith is not thrust into the forefront of your attention. Needless to say, more often than not, we are in situations where there is nothing else helping to ensure your faith is your first love and focus.
If you’re at all like me, this does not translate rather well. I’d say on average, I have a real conversation regarding my faith on five different days out of the remaining 25. So, on a good month, I have lived but a third of them in a manner remotely hearkening back to the calling I have as a Christian and a light in the darkness of this world. There are many things you could say to this, but short of shouting expletives, this should be absolutely inadmissible even to the youngest of believers.
We now clearly have a problem. Sure, I know myself to not be your poster-boy Christian, but I know I’m not the only one here. I say there is a problem, but what really is the problem? The problem is simply the fact that my faith is largely a role I play or an article of clothing I put on. It’s like that ugly Christmas sweater you’re aunt that you see once a year gave you years ago and the only time you pull it out is when all of your friends are wearing their similar sweaters all to the same Tacky Christmas Sweater Party. Safety in numbers, right? True, but NO! There are a few things that come to mind right now, but safety sure as the air I’m breathing right now isn’t.
Where do I, where do we, go from here? In some ways we must ascend and in others, descend. Allow me to explain my contradiction. We ascend in the sense that we must elevate our focus on something greater than our own underwhelming glory. I think that my focus, the fact that I am so self-consumed, is the biggest problem here. Yes, it boils down to a pride issue. Any focus that belongs to God, but is redirected back toward ourselves is in fact pride. What am I really striving toward? The living, breathing heart that I was given by my Creator, I misuse for the purpose of worshiping myself and other things beneath the capacity of this beautiful entity. At this moment, I am reminded of the quote, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” I feel this is certainly applicable here.
We must also descend. We must climb down from the shoddy throne we have built for ourselves and make room for the King who rightfully deserves to reign in the kingdom of our hearts. He purchased it with His own blood and sacrifice, yet I know I oft ignore this crucial piece of the picture and seek to be a tyrant over my own life. We all must serve some master in this life, it is how we were created. Why not choose the most merciful and only good master there is? There are many excuses I have made, but none of them good, so what’s yours?
At the risk of running long, I have a tale of God’s sovereignty even in apathetic rebellion. Last weekend, I skipped a Bible study because I was too tired and then our outreach day at church to get a needed oil change. I decided to sit outside at a table at Starbucks up the street, where two friends participating in the evangelical outreach with our church spotted me and asked me if I wanted to pray with them about a conversation they had just had with a man. While we were praying together, a man without full mental faculties came up to us and asked us where a certain record store was, but none of us had heard of it, so we all dismissed the man. As he walked away, so did our spirits. We all felt an overwhelming pull to converse with this man, but we let him walk away. We finished praying, and my friends, rather subdued, left and I went back to my own work.
I know God is greater than apathy, however, the man then proceeded to walk by another 3 times! Needless to say, I was very aware of my own inaction, but refused to overcome the friction keeping me in my own little world. Over the corner of my screen, I see a figure sitting down at the opposite side of the table. It was this man! Incredulously, I recognized what was happening. We had a two-hour conversation that ended with a slice of pizza (for him, not me given my several food intolerances) and a burning in my soul.
Where is the relevancy in this story? One, it goes to show that I am not advocating some sort of performance-based religiousness. Two, God even when I am trying my hardest to be apathetic is far more capable of carrying out His will than I give Him credit for. Three, what I alluded to as the burning in my soul is what I believe to be a small example of God providing a change of heart in this area. Very tangibly after this conversation, I felt like someone had punched me in the heart as I desperately longed for this man to know the One who I call “Savior”.
While first needing to recognize the fact that God does not need me, I understand that God also does not need me to get in His way. The best thing I can do, is seek to walk in His will during those other 25 days. When an opportunity is granted, as a faithful God will assuredly do in response to diligent prayer, it behooves me to make the most of it, boldly proclaiming what I know and live to be true. This proclamation takes a few different forms, but apathy and cowering are not counted among them. I think the best way to spend the other 25 is to faithfully pray that God would change our hearts so they have the same focus as the 5.