Live a Little
I just got back from a wonderful vacation in Florida. It was needed by all my family. We don’t go many places due to mobility issues, so this was a golden opportunity. Disney, St. Augustine, and Columbia will never be the same! We got to get out and live a little.
I’ve heard that phrase a lot through the years: “live a little.” I’ve heard it said to people when their lives are seen as dull or tense. People who work too much need to “live a little.” People who have no sense of humor need to “live a little.” But what about your faith? Does it “live a little?” Think about that.
GK Chesterton wrote about our need to be reminded that we are still living a little in this world. He said that we need “A new kind of prophet, not like the prophets of old who reminded people that they were going to die, but one who reminds them that they are not dead yet.”
Before we left for Florida, my pastor did an amazing sermon that prompted me to repeat a lot of the ideas here in written forum. One of the reasons I do this site is to see my faith in action helping others, so it’s fitting that I would post this to show exactly how being active in a local church can help you grow your faith–not matter if you’re new to worship or mature in your faith. The following is a recalling of what was discussed.
A faith that is alive
In the movie “Risen,” there is a part where Jesus asks a character, “What are you afraid of?” His answer was, “being wrong and waging eternity on it.” The question that stems from that is this: what are you waging eternity on? As a Christian, I realize how great the gift of faith is. It is a wonderful, powerful thing that rests in our hands. With faith, we can be the light that can heal our world by dispelling the darkness.
Speaking of darkness, may of us, Christians and non-Christians, are concerned about the election and the myriad of directions the US can head as a result. Keep praying, because even though the light is dimmed (that’s a post in itself), it’s not dead yet. On the other hand, if you are part of a local church, we can fall into the trap of viewing faith as something that makes us feel good. We meet in the safe walls of the church building, have special events, potlucks, Bible studies, But, then we shift our focus on bickering about what types of music are the best, jeans or no jeans, or even the frequency of communion. Are we snuffing out our own light by focusing on the wrong things?
There are a couple of churches that I know about around where I live that are struggling over the issue of replacing pews with chairs. Lifetime members of the churches are threatening to leave the church if they get rid of pews. Out of all the programs, fellowship, missions, studies, relationships, and whatever else they have helped build over their lives, what they sit on is an issue strong enough to make them want to sever ties. The world is spiraling out of control because of the depravity of sin (Romans 1-3), we are distracted by music and pews. While Jesus teaches us about loving God and others as our priority, we collectively put our priorities elsewhere. This is exactly where the enemy wants us. If we are in such conflict internally, we are not able to affect anyone outside of our walls.
“We are not dead yet.”
I’ve always had an issue with the title of the show “American Idol.” God warned us against worshiping idols, and I think that’s what people start to do. Well, it’s not worshiping the same way I worship our God (I hope), but the name just rubs me the wrong way. However, as my pastor put it, there is a new idol in America. It’s an idol that is more prevalent than drugs, power, money, or fame. Safety is its name. Think about it. We are “seat-belted, bike-helmeted, air-bagged, kneepad-wearing, private-schooled, gluten-freed, hand-sanitized, peanut-avoiding, sunscreen-slathered, hyper-insured, massively-medicated, password-protected, security-systemed, and inoculated.” I loved that line in the sermon. We have fostered the fear of EVERYTHING! Granted, there are things we have to be safe about, but it’s getting to where things I did without thought during my childhood are now sue-worthy! But our fear has driven us further and further away from sanity, it seems.
However, Jesus Christ tells us, “Do not be afraid.” I can’t think of HOW MANY times the Bible says “Do not be afraid.” In fact, I would like someone to search the scriptures to find ONE place where God calls someone to something safe. Think about that for a moment. Of all the stories in the Bible, who was told to do something so completely safe, that there was no danger present? Abraham left his familiar home–going to a completely unknown place (Genesis 12). Moses confronted Pharoh–the most powerful man in Egypt that could have him killed just for speaking against him (Exodus 5.). Esther went before the king when it was forbidden for ANYONE to approach him unannounced (Esther 4:11, Esther 5:1). David fought a giant, Daniel was put in a lion’s den. Joshua crossed a river, and Jesus went to the cross. The world is much bigger than ourselves. We cannot rely on safety.
Jesus Walks on Water
We have heard of this story. Jesus performs another miracle by walking on water. But let’s read it again: (Matthew 14:22-29)
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning[a] Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here![b]”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
Would you consider Peter a hero? One may consider it because he got out of the boat. All the other disciples just stayed safe in the boat. There’s no record of them even giving it a shot. They must have thought Peter was crazy! But, look at this boat as our own lives. The only way to break the grip of fear is to get out of the boat. And once you are out of the boat, don’t turn back to fear. Turning to fear almost drowned Peter the very next verse! Remember the question earlier? “What are you waging eternity on?” I put my money on the man calling me from the boat.
As we realize that safety is an idol and luxury, I’d like to call attention to one of the most dangerous prayers you can pray (and that’s not a bad thing).
Thy Will be done
We see it in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). Jesus Prayed it the night he got arrested (Matthew 26:39). In this prayer, we are essentially asking for God’s plan to unfold in our lives, whatever it is. We’re not asking for what we want, but for what He wants. The thing is, fear will cause us to miss the best thing that God wants to do with us. “Fear is the darkroom where negatives develop.”
Our faith is alive and well only when we respond to the call of God. This means taking a risk. When we take a risk, we learn that God can, and does, come through. We need to step out on that water like Peter does. God will hold us up. God can do what we can’t do on our own! Christians stop serving because it may not be safe. They stop tithing (and I struggle with this one) because they think that it may put their finances in danger. They stop sharing their faith with others. Risks go out the window, and the stop asking God what He wants them to do. What happens next is a slow development of a boring, apathetic, safe, “living just a little” life.
While safe faith is limited in its impact, it is also shrinking through fear. Safe faith stunts our growth and shrivels our hearts. But, a faith that is alive is one that is NOT seated in fear. God has so much good planned for us! What if we started every day with a prayer asking “where is my mission field today?”
All about relationship
Jesus calls us into an incredible relationship. It is wonderful, exciting, and extremely fulfilling. He does not promise safety. But he does promise His strength, support, presence, and purpose. He calls us all to a faith without fear. And without fear, faith can “live a little.” Or better yet, it can live A LOT! We ARE NOT DEAD YET!
I would love your comments. It helps me develop more content and engage in dialogue with you, my readers. God bless you all!