Last post I spoke about the show Lost and it’s contrivance of faith. I contended that what it is portraying in its series (remember, I like the show so this is not a bash, per se) is not Christian faith. It may be humanistic faith – that is, faith in what the human being can do – though I doubt this even. I tend to think that it is hollow and flimsy when it comes right down to it. And, according to my last post, could be classified as a mental condition in real life.

Well, today I wanted to fill out a little more on what true Christian faith is. Living in (or near for some people) the South, many people would call themselves Christian if you were to ask them. I equate this with the Northerner’s response of “Well, I am a good person.” This simply won’t do. As we saw last time, faith is resting in a sure reality. Exercising faith is resting in a chair. It is not attempting to live in your own strength.

More than this, Christian faith is more than one decision. Many have fooled themselves into believing that because they were baptized…Or because they go to church semi-regularly to regularly…Or because _________. This is not saving, Christian faith.

Baptism is not salvation. Walking down the aisle is not salvation. A decision is not salvific.

This morning I was struck hard by Hebrews 9 verse 28: So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. The word “eagerly” is the Greek word “apekdechomai” which is equated with the kind of eagerness a mother and father when they are 2 weeks away from the birth of their first child (see Rom 8.19). They can be disappointed that he hasn’t come yet. They could be overwhelmed with excitement. They could be frustrated at the current state of things because they want him to be here. All of these things can be true of the Christian.

Those who will be saved when Christ returns will be those who have been eagerly waiting for him…If this doesn’t characterize your life and what you’re hoping for, you probably don’t know the full magnificence of what it means to follow Christ. In reality, not one of us will comprehend the magnitude of glory that is yet to be revealed. However, the Christian will grow more and more desirous of Christ’s return because he learns more and more of what it means to follow and love Jesus. It is not because they are like John Locke in Lost and just believe. No. They have tasted the sweet honey of God’s truth and long for more of it.

This is what I pray this blog does for many of us, myself included – that we grow in our knowledge and desire and eager expectation for Jesus’ return. You may feel like you have so much to learn. There is so much in the Bible that you have yet to learn to let this kind of waiting characterize your life. The best way to eat an elephant is to take one bite at a time. One day at a time. The people that know the Bible the best have given themselves to reading it every day of their lives. It didn’t just happen the next day they decided to do so. However, they earnestly desired to know God and love him better as he is revealed in the Bible.

For those of you that read this blog and have certain question, send me an e-mail [commentsonthewire -at- mac.com] and we could move through various questions together. If not, keep checking back and question by question could be answered.

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Less Hype. More Humility.

Please. Embedded in our consumeristic culture, there is the assumption that newer is better than older–though I prefer aged beef and cheddar to new. There is the assumption that grand and renovated and powerful is preferable to meek and lowly and weak.

The church often adopts this form of communicating in an effort to gather people into its doors. “God is doing awesome things here at Church _______.” The fact is that God is doing awesome things everyday and everywhere. He’s sustained your life. He’s given you sight and hearing and legs. And if you have none or only one of these, he’s still given you life and a mind to engage the world around you. Truly miraculous. What is more, is God not also doing something in the old, decrepit church that meets faithfully every Sunday? Is God not at work in the mundane? Is the changing of laundry and washing of dishes and working through an argument devoid of God’s presence?

I see so many churches trying to drum up excitement about the latest outreach or project, when what our culture needs is the staying power and sobriety of faithfulness in the ho-hum drudgery of going to a job you hate or a marriage that is contentious. What we need is not more hype, but more humility. More service and less heavy-handedness. We need more gentleness and less power grabs.

If we don’t, what then becomes of the senior citizen who is tired? What becomes of the baby who is sleeping? What becomes of the unemployed and outcast and burdened? They are forgotten. They are seen as less valuable because they aren’t producing the kind of energy requisite for assumed faithfulness to the disciples’ call.

In reality, we need less loud voices and red faces and sweaty brows and more silence and calmness and a deep well of contentment.

The New Economics Will Be People

So I went to a coffee shop this morning and was struck by the utter efficiency they were churning out drinks. In fact the team lead said this much as encouragement to the six other workers behind the counter.

I walked in. Smiled at the barista. Was greeted with a blank stare as he continued to froth the milk and deliver the piping hot skinny latte with extra foam to the drive-thru. I walked to the register and was passed with nary a glance…even when the team lead said “Hello.” No she didn’t look at me, but made sure that her metric of greeting a guest in the first ten seconds was met. A box that is checked. That’s what I was. A large dark roast with no room for cream and sugar. And surely there was no saccharin here. There was utility and efficiency.

In all our pandering for growth our marketing of environment is nothing more than a marketing tool. The timers and grids for efficiency have crowded out the thing that matters. The only thing that matters in products.

You see, the products that are pushed are labeled as though they were made for you. In reality, the products being sold to you have (for the most part) been made for the manufacturer. People have merely become a means to the end of bigger, faster, better.

In the new economy, people will matter more.

They won’t matter because they need to matter to grow the business. Too often companies tell you that you’re important because they want your money. They don’t want to make a difference as much as they want their new car or luxury vacation.

I want to say this loud and clear. In the new economy, people will be the end in themselves. They will no longer be viewed as a metric or a number. In the new economy, mom and pop will be sought after. Because, after all, we all know that the verbiage of how you matter to company x is just verbiage. It’s merely eliciting a response for another end.

In the new economics, people will want to matter. They will flock to the place where they are known by name. And not just to tout the “community” of an establishment. Did you notice the subtlety of that one? No, people will know your name because they know you and you matter. Your name is not known just to brag that you matter and sell the belonging you too can have if you buy your next skinny latte with extra froth…hold the pandering.

We are not there yet because executives are still measuring. Measuring people. Yet, what the new economy will have to embrace is not a spreadsheet or a graph. They will be forced to embrace people. Not to grow their graph. But to grow their own soul.

On Conformity

As much as I hate to admit it, Christians push conformity. Conformity to the wrong things. Being shaped by a group and set of ideals is inherent to being part of a group–be it Christian, straight edge, atheist. But I am speaking about and to my tribe.

Over the years, I have had the privilege of being a part of several different denominations and have seen this shadow overtaking much of the piety of its adherents. It wasn’t meant to do so.

Do you homeschool? The correct answer depends on the group you’re talking to. Do you go on mission trips? Do you adopt? Do you run around incessantly from meeting to meeting showing how you are making an impact for the kingdom?

We have steered far off course when we get away from the simplicity of the Gospel. Of a life changed and being changed by the Gospel. That is, before Christ’s ascension, he said to merely teach all that he commanded. Yet. Yet, much of our passing on of information is not what Christ taught. They are various implications and applications of what he taught. And so,

Might I encourage you to be slow in conforming to the standards? Not just of popular culture, but of the popularity of whatever group you find yourself milling about. The shadow looms to block out the sun of joy and hope. It chokes out the simple call to humble obedience to Christ, changing out a yoke that not even the teachers can bear.