Recently I read that a local faith hero, Sister Christine Leyser is leaving Guelph to serve in other capacities with the Loretto Sisters in Toronto. Sister Christine, an Order of Canada recipient, started the Welcome Inn Drop In Centre on Gordon Street over 30 years ago. Since then she along with a volunteer team has faithfully served many of our city’s isolated and economically marginalized people. Our city’s loss is Toronto’s gain.
A number of years ago when I was responsible for GCC’s youth ministry, I was able to arrange for Sister Christine to come and speak with our high school students. As I recall, a number of them indicated that her story had impacted them. For me, her story was heroic and it drew me forward in my discovery of faith.
Every year I read books about faith and I listen to podcasts by renowned pastors, teachers and evangelists. However, in my experience, it took listening to Sister Christine for me to realize that everything I believe is in play with how I treat any and every person I encounter.
For the most part, I interact on a daily basis with different people than those Sister Christine served. James 2: 15-16 says “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” I think when I read that I tend to interpret it as only applying to how I treat the poor and in my opinion, Sister Christine has heroically given her all for so many who are poor. However, Sister Christine helped me apply those verses to my life regardless of who I encounter and as I’ve followed her challenge my faith has grown. Here’s my re-write of theses verses as I now understand them. “If anyone is without what keeps them safe and strengthened and I say to them. “You’re Ok, don’t worry (and maybe I add that I’ll pray for them)” and I don’t help them in some way that I can, what is the point of my faith?”
I am not living day to day in the same way as Sister Christine but she taught me how every day my faith can be to other people’s advantage and well being. And in that, my faith journey continues.
“Fake it till you make it” is an expression and a practice that is presented in our culture as an OK means of transitioning from today’s reality to tomorrows possibility. I understand there is a place for this practice but I think in the past I’ve applied it to my faith and I’m not sure I should have.
In my 1st blog, I wrote that I’d like to write about exploring faith and in my self evaluation I rated my faith at times as lackluster. To be fair, my faith journey has included times when I’ve taken steps of faith that were exciting, risk taking and difficult. Hardly what I considered at the time to be lackluster. And yet in hindsight I’d have to admit that sometimes those “steps of faith” were lacking in vitality, force, or conviction with respect to my actual faith. Consciously, or unconsciously I think sometimes I was trying to fake faith till I made faith.
Sometimes in my faith life I’ve attempted to be and do what others were being and doing. For the most part, it wasn’t because of some sort of peer pressure but rather it was because I thought they were doing what God wanted all of us to do. And to do what they were doing put me in the position of faking it till I made it. I wasn’t living by faith. I was living by fake. I had good intentions but I was not really walking by faith as Paul instructs us in 2 Corinthians 5:7. Interestingly, in the Bible version I typically read from, that verse is “for we walk by faith not by sight” and an alternative word that is noted for “sight” is “appearance”. Sometimes I was not walking by faith but rather by appearance. I was doing what I could to appear to be what I thought others were being.
As I’ve aged (and hopefully gained some wisdom) I’ve come to appreciate the understanding of the psalmist who wrote Psalm 46. In verse 10 it’s written “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” When I have had vitality, force or conviction in my faith it’s come when I’ve been at peace with who I am and what I’m doing and God has exalted Himself in my mind and heart. Then without having to fake anything I’ve taken simple steps suitable for me in a faith direction that I don’t feel at all compelled to compare with anyone else.
God doesn’t fake anything and He doesn’t expect me to.
For the most part, I enjoy my life as I live it. However, I think more often than not, if someone was perched on my shoulder observing, they might be inclined to think that I live my life of faith with all the zeal of someone who has “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt”.
I suppose I could blame the church for my state of being as many do with respect to their lives, but I don’t believe that is the correct place to lay the blame. I know that Jesus has a personal relationship with me and since He is the author and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2) I think that when I have lackluster faith it must trace back to that relationship.
In 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 I believe that Paul, the author, writes that because I’m a Christian the Spirit of God is willing to search and reveal to me the thoughts of God as they relate to me. This passage also makes it clear that the Spirit’s parameters for this thought search are to the depths of God pertaining to the things given to us by God.
That is amazing and assuming I understanding it correctly then any of my lackluster faith cannot be blamed on God. In Jeremiah 29:13-14 God makes it clear that “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you”.
I think it is God’s intention and for my benefit, that I continually search for and by God’s grace discover faith. There are many ways to explore for faith and I’m hoping that here on Facebook we can share in our journeys towards discovery of faith. My plan is to write once a month and I’m hoping some readers will consider what I write and comment as they see fit. My dream is that we all settle in to relationships with Jesus that unsettle any sense that we’ve “Been there, done that, got the T-shirt”.
If faith is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8) shouldn’t I just be happy with whatever amount I have?