12.24.2016

Reckless and Costly and Foolhardy Faith

On the eve of Christmas, I look back on the past month and remember mostly a frenzied state of juggling work and family responsibilities, rather than the contemplation and rejuvenation that this season should engender.  Our lives are already crazy as it is, and the end of the year seems to bring a special franticness, even though we were careful not to add on top of it with too many holiday-related stressors.  (Christmas cookies, anyone?)  I keep promising to approach this time of the year differently, and yet each time I fall into the same patterns and end up frazzled and fried.

Though I have unnecessarily cluttered up my life, there has still been room at times to discern a not so subtle message that I think I need to hear and that I think I want to share.  God may well be shouting at the top of His lungs, but I've got my headphones on and I can scarcely hear it.  But, every so often, I am making out the message.  And, perhaps ironically, given what I have written above, the message seems to be that we must take action and not settle for comfort.

Despite what it seems on its face, this is not antithetical to the need to slow down instead of rev up at the end of the year.  Contemplation and rejuvenation are a good and appropriate salve against a drivenness that loses sight of God and substitutes Him with busyness.  And yet, that is not the same thing as cocooning in comfort when action is in order.

We live in an age and in a country when material comforts are in embarrassing abundance, and even graded on that curve I am more well off than others.  I don't have to worry about where my next meal will come from and have everything I need to provide for myself and my family and then some.  In the eyes of many Christians in America, I am living the good life: comfortable, respectable, family-loving, and church-going.

But the Bible calls us to a far different and far better life.

God, through His Word, invites us to care for widows and orphans, to stand up against corrupt power and stand up for the defenseless, to go to the forsaken places and people, and to do justice and love mercy.  He beckons to us to practice faith even and especially when it is costly, to say to heck with how much this is going to cost me in time or money or reputation or heartache, because it is worthwhile to make such investments
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The exhortations in the Bible, and the lives of the great women and men who took the Bible seriously, have little resemblance to the comfortable and respectable Christian lives that many church-goers in this country live.  What passes for Christianity today is in many ways a shameful shadow of how we ought to live.  Where are the acts of faith that the world looks at as reckless and costly and foolhardy?  Should I not rather be called such for living out what I believe, or do I prefer to keep my faith anonymous and my life easy? 

The tragedy of all of this is not that we are too greedy and comfort-seeking, but that we are not greedy or comfort-seeking enough.  For the narrow path laid before us, while on one level harder and lonelier than the wide path, is assuredly the path to true life and unimaginable joy.

And this is why it is bad that I have cluttered up my life this season.  Because I have missed out on hearing and seeing all that is laid before me, which should convince me that stillness is better than frenzy and action is better than comfort.  Because God has prepared something wonderful for us who believe and who act on that belief.  Even and especially when it looks reckless and costly and foolhardy.



All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. - Hebrews 11:13-16
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