Have I not written thirty sayings for you, sayings of counsel and knowledge, teaching you true and reliable words, so that you can give sound answers to him who sent you. Proverbs 22, verses 20 and 21.
Faith is a hard thing to talk about, isn’t it? I love to write; you obviously know this or you’d be doing something other than reading these. The longer I write, the easier it becomes to string my thoughts together in cogent streams. It is getting easier to pry out my real feelings and true intentions, then put them onto paper or form them into stories.
It wasn’t always this way, though. When I started writing in earnest, it was difficult to admit my real feelings. You wouldn’t think that it would be so. I mean, you would think writing would be just a matter of recording what you’re thinking, but it isn’t that way. Very often, even with these words, I write and re-write them until they are arranged in just the way I think says what I want to say. I do that because they very rarely come out in that order, especially when I’m using them to opine on something I hold dear. Those words are tough to record. It’s even tougher to say things well in very few words. It then becomes even tougher to say them in public. For many reasons, it’s a close-to-the-heart matter, and I think it’s wholly understandable why so many consider it personal, even off-limits, in conversation. It’s a struggle to live boldly in a sinful world, and it’s a struggle to admit to ourselves and to a sometimes fearful God that we mess up, especially when we’re forming new relationships and we want to put our best foot forward.
He cares about that, and He sent the remedy. You know this. What’s more, He sent us reliable teaching from his ancient words so that we can live our lives by His code of conduct, admit when we’ve erred, and receive His unending forgiveness. Doing that, living by those words, changes the heart; a changed heart leads to changing the way we live our lives. He does it so that we can give sound answers back to him. He wants us to live our lives fully, earnestly, and honestly in a world where it’s hard to do that on our own. If this can happen with partying, smoking, new hobbies, a moment in time, puppies, or the love of family, is it not also logical and likely that it can happen with this most personal faith?
But it isn’t easy. My friend Patrick’s theme in worship yesterday was “what are you in love with.” His words were persuasive that, to be happy, fueled, and meaningful in life, we should be in love with Christ. We love families, each other, pets, jobs, even the Dallas Mavericks (today); Patrick’s list of loves. But the love of our life should be the giver of our lives. I’m in love with many things, and a number of people. And there is much in life I do indeed love: morning coffee, catching big fish, music that hits just the chord to match my mood, red wine and a medium rare steak, sunrise over the ocean, and more than a few life-changing memories. All of these should pale compared to being in love with Jesus. When I’ve been in love with someone, I find it hard to contain it. I want to scream in joy from the rooftops and the steep hills of the city. With Christ, I’m in love but sometimes I find it hard to scream that same joy.
That’s weird, very weird indeed. What’s even weirder is telling people about it. Most of us are conditioned to keep such matters of faith private and quiet outside the walls of a church building or our homes. Yet, as they end every Sunday at my church, “true worship begins now,” out of the stinkin’ building and in the world, in what we do and say. True worship is our lives. What’s even weirder than this is that He already taught us how to do it, how to talk and worship. He knows our inhibitions and He understands that we bottle things up, hide them, and don’t want them exposed to daylight. He understands that it’s difficult for us to say things about these matters and about Him, but He wants us to do it anyway. He wants us to do it and provides the way, namely our words and actions.
I doubt you’ll ever find me standing on a street corner, wearing a breadboard, and yelling “repent!” I also doubt you’ll ever find me asking strangers in the mall, “do you know Jesus?” That just isn’t me; I’m not wired that way and find those things to be a turn-off. But if you get to know me (or keep reading these) you’ll find that it becomes easier for you and I to talk with each other about these matters of the heart. Come over to my place and we can pull each others’ ears for hours. Meet me over at the Londoner (English pub in my town) and I’ll gladly tell you my story about His story. Then I’ll want to hear yours. We might even not be embarrassed by it. It may not be easy to do, but we are all spiritual people with supernatural needs that can’t be met by things, places, or even sometimes each other. That’s what God is for.