Broken-down Poetry: Not a Feel-Good Faith


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Monday, February 18, 2008

Not a Feel-Good Faith

This Sunday I got the prestigious opportunity to do PowerPoint for the morning service at church. Now, when I say prestigious, I mean it because there is great responsibility behind that job: if I clicked too fast or too slow the entire church would notice. I was scared. But, I did okay despite Tom forgetting a verse to a song... and whatever happened to the Communion slide?

Oh well.

That's not really my point at all. My point is that I was doing PowerPoint during my pastor Paul's sermon which, in my opinion, was one of his best. Even though it was about hell.

I think I liked it because it tied in nicely to our discussion on Letter to a Christian Nation in English class. We were discussing the purpose of religion: is it just a mode of comfort? Is Christianity just about making it to heaven?

I began to think about this and considered that maybe this is how religions started. Maybe cavemen 20,000 years ago wanted to believe that there was Someone who inspired their wheel invention or caused the lightening in the sky. Maybe ancient Egyptians didn't want to have to explain every wondrous sign and gave credit to other beings--gods.

But honestly, if I think about my faith and its basic principles... it isn't very comforting at all. I mean, Christianity was birthed from the Jewish faith based on strict laws and statutes. To go back before Christ I would be obligated to sacrifice animals for every sin I committed (intentional or not), to only eat certain animals, to marry young and bare lots of children, and if I were a man... get circumcised.

No, I don't think my faith is based around comfort.

Of course, one could argue Grace. Maybe Grace is what makes Christianity a feel-good religion. But again, does it? Does God say we can do whatever we want with no eternal or earthly consequences? Of course not.

My religion--my faith--is not built upon comfort and fluffy God-moments. But yet, let's look at the other side of the coin (so to speak).

Christianity does offer hope. It offers freedom from sin and restoration both on earth and eternally in heaven. This is my impetus for trusting Christ with my life, sure, but that's not all of Christianity. I have hope, I have transcendent peace, but I still have my earthly sin-sickness.

In other words, I still have to deal with heartache here on earth.

So then, is Christianity a feel-good faith because it offers eternal happiness in heaven? I don't think it's that either. How many people sit around planning for the future--I mean REALLY planning for the future--and take no time worrying about themselves right here and now? Not many. It's hard saving up money for a future that is five years away, let alone for ten or twenty years down the road. Just knowing that when I die (in a good 60 years at least... hopefully) I will go to an everlasting (and rather vague) Paradise is not satisfying. Is it satisfying for you? Is that what you wake up for every morning?

I suppose it sounds like I am cutting down my faith right now. I make it sound like a strict "do-this, do-that" kind of religion and it's not... but it is at the same time. We have these rules because we have free-will... which seems rather contradicting, so I won't get into it. [I'll save that for another blog.]

I know my faith (my personal one). I know that without believing that God is a thought, breath, sigh, or blink away I'd be one depressed little girl. But I also know it goes deeper than that. I know God calls me to a righteous life--an unattainable life on my own, but with His help it's achievable. I truly believe that.

And so, I am eager to conclude this blog with the same two points my pastor did last Sunday....

1. How I live (right now) matters. Christianity is not just about planning for some distant judgment day, but it is about the present. What am I doing with my life now? Am I living for myself or for others?

2. There are consequences for my actions on earth. Meaning, although I am covered with Grace by giving Christ my life, I am still obligated to leave my sinful ways behind, so to speak, and be obedient to God's rules.

And, if I dare, I would like to make one more point....

3. Go in peace. Yes, our actions do matter right now. We are told to be "blameless and pure children of God" and to establish God's kingdom on earth (not just wait till we get to heaven) BUT we cannot sit and fret about it either. Seek first His kingdom. Do not worry. It'll be okay.

This argument seems a little cyclical, so let me make a sweet summary for you all:

Christianity offers forgiveness for our iniquities but does not offer a freebie to sin. It's not just about planning for some distant vacation to heaven, but focuses on the here and now. We can relish in the fact that we have hope in Christ but it shouldn't blind us to the sin in our lives. We need to repent; we need to be free from sin.

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