Most persons - inside the church or outside of it - aren't very quick to believe that the church has anything practical to offer them when life gets tough. They scoff at the idea that the church should be on the front lines of real, meaningful intervention. But those outside the church add an additional challenge to a living, active faith that's willing to step in:
They have no interest in the faith at all.
The culture itself, at least for most "developed" nations, has been tending toward secularism for awhile now, trading in the very roots of its development for a theology that requires no God at all. And when we who believe that God still has something to offer this world put Him out there, the world shakes its head. No thanks.
Your faith may work for you, but it's not for me. Your faith isn't for everybody. You can't just shove your faith down my throat; I don't want it.
And as Christians, at this point, most of us back off. Our culture has taught us that these voices are right, that this is the "truth," relative as it may be, and that our faith really isn't for everyone.
But Jesus kinda said that it is.
Jesus kinda said that anyone who comes to Him will find rest. Jesus kinda said that anyone who follows Him will find glory. Jesus kinda said that anyone who seeks, finds; anyone who asks is answered; anyone who knocks will be welcomed in. God kinda said that anyone who believes shall not perish, but have eternal life.
So tell me again how my faith is not for everyone. (There are a bit of semantics to be played with here, as it's quite accurate that my faith is not for everyone. My faith is for me. It is based on my personal experience with a self-revealing God and the promises that He's given to the collective we and to the individual me, as fulfilled and being fulfilled through the unique circumstances of my life. So my faith is not for everyone, but my Lord is. He said so Himself, and I don't doubt Him on that.)
Any man, pressed far enough, reveals his faith. The question is not one on the merits of faith at all; everyone believes in something. The question is on the merits of faith in the Lord, and it is this that these voices are calling out. Your Lord is not for everyone.
My faith is working fine for me.
Except the obvious discrepancy is that if your faith was working fine for you, you wouldn't be distraught right now by your nakedness. You wouldn't be troubled by your hunger. You wouldn't be worried about your worth. If your faith, whatever you believe in, was really working for you, we wouldn't be having this conversation because you would have no need.
But the truth is that only the Lord offers a faith in which you have no need, when the Lord Himself is your Shepherd (Psalm 23:1). And then you say that He cannot be your shepherd because you are no dumb sheep. You don't have to be a dumb sheep; you can be a smart one, and He'll still be your shepherd. Only a fool looks at his reflection in the mirror and sees the mop of wool on his head and says he could not possibly be a sheep.
We could travel down this road quite a ways, but I think we've gone far enough to start making the point - this world is so quick to call time out, so quick to push away anything that's got to do with religion, anything that's got to do with faith. And it's not about faith or religion, it's about this Lord, this God that they say they're not willing to believe in. This God that they don't want.
This God that desperately wants them.
They say that it's not for them, that it doesn't work for them, that it's not meaningful for them. But God Himself said something very different. He said, I am for you. Any one of you. He said, I'm working things together for good through you, with you, for you. Any one of you. He stretched out His arms and died and declared, This is meaningful for you. Any. Single. One. of you. And that's the voice we need to be hearing. That's the voice we need to pay attention to.
Because no matter how many times this world declares that our faith is not for them, it doesn't change the absolute truth that our God is. And we ought to be shouting that from the rooftops.