Friday, September 27, 2013

13 Reasons Faith Will Make Your Life Harder

Disclaimer: This list is serious, except when it isn't. Subtitle could be: Why you should think twice about having your baby baptized!

  • Faith will commit you to the cause of the poor and marginalized. You will end up in jail, at the garbage dump, in recovery, at hospice, in a cemetery. You will give away more than you mean to and fail to save for your next trip to the beach as a result. The suffering of your neighbor will trump the comfort you thought you sought.
  • You'll have to start listening to "Christian" or "religious" music. Somebody might put Michael W. Smith on the radio, or turn on a radio station that is purportedly "safe for the whole family."
  • You will start believing as many as six impossible things before breakfast, like: Lutherans can end malaria worldwide, kindness makes a difference, prayer does things, peace is possible, forgiveness is possible, Jesus is both God and human, etc.
  • You will start apologizing more often, and mean it. The first thesis of Christian faith is likely: "Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite, willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance" (from Luther's 95 theses). Constant repentance as a way of life. Yeah, that'll be a cinch.
  • Sitting in pews. Nuf' said.
  • You will have to think. Contrary to popular opinion, faith is neither blind allegiance nor simpleminded devotion. No, faith is trust, and it is trust of a rational and thoughtful variety. If you think faith is simple, just read Paul's letter to the Romans. Seriously, Paul actually thought some tiny little mission development in the capitol city of the Roman Empire needed that as a resource for growing and strengthening the faith in their place.
  • You will have to lose yourself in order to find yourself. There is a selflessness to faith of an extraordinary sort. Lots of people want to find themselves. Faith pushes us to lose ourselves first in order to be found and so find ourselves. Even when we think we understand this, we don't. Which is why it is hard.
  • You will die. Faith is not an escape from death. It is instead a wager that even death, which the faithful experience (first for Christians in their baptism, which is baptism into the death of Christ, then at their physical death) cannot separate us from love. It is trust that God's love (the love of a seemingly weak and suffering God) transcends death.
  • You might have to read Kierkegaard, or Bonhoeffer, or Flannery O'Connor, authors who wrote books with titles like Fear and Trembling, The Sickness Unto Death, The Cost of Discipleship, and The Violent Bear It Away. Authors who look the world and humanity right in the face and see Jesus there anyway.
  • You'll start to have doubts, which is the only place true faith rather than certitude is fostered and strengthened. Like steel, faith is a thing tempered by fire. Like Mother Teresa, the hallmark of your faith will be not the comfort of the presence of God, but the devastating frustration of God's seeming absence.
  • You won't have as much faith as others, because faith is not distributed in equal measure to all. And some people that you doubt have faith will force you to recognize your lack of faith because your lack of faith in the faith you think they lack is itself faithless. In other words, at the very moment you believe you have identified an unbeliever, the only real unbeliever will be you.
  • Faith will get all in-your-face counter-cultural on you. It will evoke joy, trust, and thanksgiving from you when the world wants you a skeptic. It will send you into despair, grief, and struggle when the world wants you at ease.
  • It will never be your own faith, exactly. It will always rest in other people (who are notoriously difficult), and in God (who is notoriously notable). God and others end up pretty much being the same thing (in Jesus), and this will be awkward, and hard, and kind of awesome.

No comments:

Post a Comment