Thursday, November 4, 2010

Faith as Fashion

Last week, our associate pastor, Daniel, preached on "faith as fashion". He discussed how in many ways, our faith is just another fashionable activity to partake in. In his sermon, he shared that he had done some research and three things that make something fashionable are it's practicality, it's affordability, and it's style. He questioned whether at times those were the guidelines we assessed our faith by, as well. That got me thinking and I wanted to get down my thoughts on each of those aspects:

Practicality- I can't say that faith is always the "practical" choice. Of course, I don't see it (as many well know atheists are fond of accusing) as the suspension of reason, but faith does require a certain amount of trust when we can't understand our circumstances. In fact, Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as "being sure of the things we hope for and certain of things unseen". That can be hard. Peyton and I are both pragmatists on so many levels; in fact, I've shared that we are kind of hoping for a girl this time, just because it would be simpler and more affordable! Especially for a person like Peyton, who is a very logical and intellectual thinker, having faith in the unseen is really difficult. And yet? God wants us to trust him, regardless of how practical it feels.

Affordability- Another hard one. A recent C.S. Lewis quote I read said "No one can settle how much we ought to give. The only safe rule is to give more than we can spare." I don't think we follow that very well, in all honesty. In most cases, it doesn't really hurt us to give. We do try to live below our means and part of the reason for that is so that we will have more to use in service to others, but is it enough? Is it ever enough? One thing I was convicted about this year, was about how fortunate most of America's children are in comparison to the rest of the world. Yes, I know this country has it's poor, too, but there is so much more assistance available. We decided this year to donate to Operation Christmas Child and in addition to creating some shoebox gifts, we are going to help pay the shipping for some others. Peyton and I also decided that we will never spend more on our own children's Christmas than what we do for another child/children/family. I'm not saying this to brag, as I said, we do not do enough! I just wanted to share the ways the Lord is working in this area of our lives.

Style- To me, this is the least hard. To be blunt, I just haven't had many instances in my life where I have felt like my faith was not popular. Honestly, after going to very conservative Baptist college, I sometimes felt like my beliefs weren't "Christian" enough. There have been a few instances where I have felt "attacked" for my faith or for some of the ethical decisions I've made based on my faith, but by and large, growing up in the Bible Belt, I just haven't felt the sting of that very often.

Daniel talked about how often we have a relationship with the church, but not with Christ. How we are there every time the doors are open, but we don't take time to sit and listen to God and mediate on his Word in private. How we are going more to see our friends and because it's in fashion than because we really want to grow in Christ.

But faith may not always be in fashion. In fact, it probably won't. Daniel spoke about how that is changing and I believe it. You see it in subtle ways- his example was a family that forced a teenager to keep his commitment to an extracurricular activity at the expense of having to miss youth group on Sunday nights. In many ways, that is our current situation. Politicians, and everyone else, want to claim the name of Christ only when it serves their needs. Daniel stated that our generation (he is about my age) is the first generation for a lot of things- I can't remember his specific illustrations, but for example we are the first generation to have access to the Internet like we do and the first generation to really experience the cell phone. He said he believed that we would also be the first generation (in America) to truly be treated harshly for our Christian faith. And, of course, it will only be worse for our children. He did share that it doesn't have to be this way.

What we need, he said, is revival. Not revival with feel good singing, but real revival that will make us see our faith as more than fashion. I think he is right on the mark!

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