Tuesday, April 7, 2020

A Little Faith

As we've been talking about for several days, we find ourselves in a strange time. (Duh.) As persons of faith, we are torn between being a people of truth and being a people of grace, knowing with great certainty that God is good and knowing just as surely how much our neighbors need a touch of humanity right now.

It's tempting for me to want to believe that if everyone could just know the truth about things, if they could just see through the showmanship and the psychology and the cravings of the human soul and latch onto a real truth, then they wouldn't be so frazzled right now. I'm not. If I could just get them to hold onto truth in the way that I am (by the gift of faith that God has given me, a gift that I know others do not necessarily share even when I long for them to), they could just calm down and settle and enjoy a measure of peace.

But the truth is that truth has never been enough for trembling. Facts have never been enough for fear. When your world is shaking, just hearing all of the reasons why you don't have to worry about that is not enough to make you stop worrying. Every time God sends an angel to tell a human being not to be afraid, and why they shouldn't be, the almost-universal response is a rubbing of the chin. That doesn't sound like it can be right. Fear simply doesn't respond to facts.

What fear needs is faith. It doesn't matter what the fear is, it always takes a little faith to overcome. If you stumble upon a snake and you're afraid of snakes, telling you that it's "just a little garden snake" and won't hurt you doesn't make you want to bend over and pick it up. That would take a little faith. Jumping out of a plane with a parachute, it's not enough to know that the parachute is packed correctly and strapped securely to your back. It takes a little faith to actually leap out that door. If you're afraid of heights, you don't want to step out on the observation deck with the clear floor. It doesn't matter how secure they tell you it is or whether you watch your friend jump up and down on it to prove it to you. It will take a little faith for you to put your own foot out there.

Fear takes faith. And that means that what the world needs right now is not a bunch of facts, but a way to believe. The world needs a witness.

They need an authentic voice, words of grace to guide them. They need the confidence of someone who is not shaken, an example of what it means to live sober in a drunken world. They need words that resonate deeper in their soul than the headlines do in their ears. They need a chorus of confessional Christians who can say, yes, this is what's going on in the world, but here's where my heart stands.

We do that by speaking out of a secure place ourselves. We do that by living as persons on solid ground. We do that by loving them well, by keeping in front of us the frailty of the human condition and the goodness of God.

It's tempting, when you start to get the kind of audience that witness brings, to want to shift quickly to truth. To want to explain how and why you're living the way you are. How you get to be so fortunate as to be in this position. To want to explain the peace that we have and where it comes from. To want to work through the facts together, walking step by step through what is real and what is not and what it means. But ironically, the moment we start to do this, we lose our audience.

Because right now, the world doesn't need to know what truth you're standing on; they just need to hear your heart beat.

For a people who believe, and who perhaps have been taught their whole life, that the Christian faith is one of evangelism, that the greatest thing we can do for someone is to tell them about Jesus and convince them to give their life to Him, this is hard. It's hard-wired into us that this is the natural progression of things. But is it?

The Christian faith really isn't one of evangelism. At least, it historically hasn't been until relatively recently. The Christian faith is one of witness. We were never meant to start by telling the world how to live; we were meant to start with showing them how we do. And that's what this world needs right now.

They need to see us living the Christian faith, secure in the love of Christ, covered in a peace that passes understanding, and showered (and showering) in grace.  

No comments:

Post a Comment