Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Back To School? I Miss Summer Already

Shubham1khatri [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

The kids look so sad. Meanwhile mom is riding up and down the aisles on the back of a shopping cart. This was how one office supply chain painted back to school shopping a few years ago. The children in the commercial looked as if one of their pets had recently died. Meanwhile mom must have just hit the lottery. (Of course, what we don't see is the sticker shock suffered when she reaches the cash register.) Personally I've never experienced the euphoria of back to school shopping. I'm more like the children, morning the end of summer and of the break from having my schedule dictated by the school calendar. As a result, back to school time is not a season I choose to celebrate.

I will especially miss summer 2019. I can't pinpoint why but somehow this summer was different. Somehow I seemed to enjoy the blessings of life more than I have in the past. I was able to enjoy family time more than in the past. I took time to notice the different shades of blue in the morning sky as the days grew longer and then, after June,  started to grow shorter. And, although it seemed like it rained every third day during the first half of the season, there were quite a few dry days when I enjoyed a two wheel commute instead of four. But all of that was there in years past. What was different this year?

Well, though it pains me to admit, this year I am (gulp) a bit older and perhaps a bit wiser. With wisdom comes the realization that some things just aren't that important. And somethings that are important must fall in line behind God, family, health and admiring a blue sky. This summer was different because I was wise enough to be a human being instead of a human doing. Now the goal is to continue living even as homework and PTO/PTA beckon. If you need me I'm the guy on the motorcycle looking up at the sky at a red light while raising my arms towards heaven.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Another One Walks Away: High Profile Christians Leave the Faith

Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

Recently two high profile voices chose to walk away from the faith. Both have had a huge impact in Christians circles, their works known even though their names may not be familiar. The first, having written a book which  has shaped Christian dating for decades, walked away from both the faith and from his marriage. The other, who has contributed to a large catalog of worship music, used social media to express his doubts. These situations are unfortunate and...expected. In fact, I'll be surprised if we don't see this more often in the future.

People have been turning away from the Christian faith since the faith first started here on earth. Jesus saw many turn away when He began teaching things they did not want to accept (John 6:60-66). If people turned their backs on God incarnate while He was here on earth, we should expect others to do so now that He has ascended up to heaven. That's not to say we shouldn't feel sad when people turn, as I'm certain Jesus feels disappointment, but we should not be surprised.

Nothing has changed as far as the many ways people respond to what is taught in the Bible. In fact the only change I see is the use of social media to announce to the world one's movement away from the Gospel, using an online platform to convince a world wide audience that turning is the right thing to do. And while those who leave risk losing followers (and gaining trolls) these leaders gain a louder share of the public square, their new message amplified among a new audience who was not interested before.

So why do people turn away from the faith? There are a number of reasons, but chief among them is the fact that the Christian faith means taking a very difficult and narrow path (John 7:14). Jesus did not try to sugarcoat it. Yes, we are saved by faith, but remember, "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). At times that word is difficult. There are even times when we (when I) don't like what the Word says. Those who turn away tend to do so because they do not like certain parts of God’s word and find it difficult to accept all of what is said.

It's not my understanding that establishes truth nor do I make something true based on how much I like it. Yet these quite often are at the core of the arguments made by those who walk away from the faith. Honestly there is plenty to wrestle with when it comes to the Bible and with the history of God's interaction with mankind. Christians should not be afraid to take on the challenge that comes with an honest reading of scripture. But the most important question for those who walk away is not did they like or understand what they see. The most important question we must ask is: Is it truth?

Friday, August 9, 2019

Fan, Fanatic or Christian?

courtesy of Pexels
Can a Christian also be a fan of a sports team? A brother in Christ, whom I highly respect, once asked me this question. I suppose he asked because I wore a pair of headphones to a church business meeting so that I could keep up with a football game. Whose idea was it to schedule a meeting during an Eagles vs Cowboys game anyway? Obviously our church moderator was not a fan. But I am, rarely missing an Eagles' game and when possible watching and/or listening to the Bears.

I admit I was a little hurt by the question and its spiritual implications. I never thought of my sports fandom as an obstacle to my faith. My defense in the face of the challenge likely came more from my pride as opposed to an honest consideration of the facts. Only recently have I truly given any thought to the question, giving honest consideration as the 2019 football season approaches. Can I be a fan and still hold my faith?

I believe the answer is yes, Christians can be fans of sports and of teams as well as fans of movies and actors and other things. After all being a fan has more to do with enthusiasm and support and nothing (in most cases) to do with worship. I can be devoted to my teams just as I can be devoted to my family (more so devoted to family of course). The key is that my devotion to Christ is higher and I have never let team fandom become idolatry. God always comes first and He is the only one I worship.

It would be easy for me to dismiss this question but it was something that obviously bothered my brother in Christ. And if it bothered him, perhaps it bothers other believers as well. I'm not going to say they are wrong. We each must follow our conscience and our convictions in Christ. Above all we must remember Who's we are and we must live according to our high calling in Christ.