In our current economy, the first answer that may rise to the surface is more money or financial security. I relate to that. It is more difficult to make ends meet, and things certainly feel more uncertain.
However, when I reflect past the immediacy of the urgent to the depths of what is important, my prayer for this time next year is more faith. I don’t say that as a pastor or a “religious” type. I say it as a man. I say it as a husband and father, as a neighbor and citizen, as a regular guy. My prayer is for more faith. It is a dangerous thing to pray for.
It is too easy in our culture to replace faith with religion. Faith in God (or anything) is meant to inspire. It is living with such a deep inner-trust in the object of our faith that we are willing to risk, step out into the unknown and bank our lives upon it. Faith inspires and opens us up to new possibilities. I have found that nothing inspires like faith in the living God.
Ironically, religion (spiritual, corporate, or cultural) too often imposes the opposite mandate. Religion, in its variety of forms, most often reinforces the status quo and encourages people to fit in. Faith calls out values of vital trust and risk; religion often requires unimaginative conformity.
Religion at its worst reinforces the status quo, often at the expense of faith. They had a religion at Woolworth’s department store, and sticking, without variation, to the principles that made the store great prevented them from turning into a new, better kind of experience. The store is long gone, of course.I long for a growing “go-for-broke” faith. Isn’t that what Jesus kept pushing for in his interactions with people? He kept asking why people were settling for stagnant religious rule-keeping when they could experience the adventure of faith. Religious rule-keeping is all about control and conformity that doesn’t allow anything to surprise us. It prevented and prevents people from seeing Jesus when he shows up and stands right in front of us. More than anything else, religious types in Jesus’ day challenged him on his living outside the box of religious rule-keeping and conformity. Instead, he kept opting for the redemptive, healing, miraculous work of the Living God taking place all around Him. I want to do the same.
Tribes, Seth Godin, pg. 81.
Godin’s book isn’t about spirituality or religion or faith – nor is it from a Christian point of view. Interestingly, it is a book on leadership. However, he adds, “if religion comprises rules you follow, faith is demonstrated by the actions you take” (pg. 83). His challenge is for more leaders to function outside the conformity of (corporate, spiritual or cultural) religious systems and to lead with vital faith from outside the box.
At the end of the day, or at the end of this next year, I want to look back and say “I trusted God more.” I want to say of the leaders of our church and the congregation as a whole, “we trusted God more.” We know we did, we will say, because of the actions we took. We know we did, we will say, because of the ways we experienced the activity of God in and all around us in ways we never would have imagined. I recognize it won't happen by accident. It begins by living with the end in mind.
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