Sunday, October 11, 2009

Are You a Stumbling Block?

God with God moment.

So, if you read this regularly, you know that for the last few weeks I have been gravely concerned about the voices who speak into your life; the voices who may cause you to stumble in your faith. But today, I am not speaking to your ears which listen but to people whose lips are speaking. Scripture is replete with it position on this matter.  

·         Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God-- (1Co 10:32 NIV)

·         Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. (Rom 14:20 NIV)

·         But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea. (Mat 18:6 NAS).

Now, if you are mocking the faith of others, I recognize that attempting to employ the words of Paul or Jesus to silence your voice seems like a fool’s errant. Yet I know that most of you have something in common; you used to have faith. Deep and robust faith. You have “tasted the Lord and know He is good.” Then, something happened in your life. Maybe it came upon you suddenly and tragically. Your heart has been hurt. Was it unanswered prayer? Was it some sort of pain and suffering? Maybe inner shame from the same re-occurring sin from which you could not gain ultimate victory. In the end, your soul has been damaged and you have simply given up the fight. It’s easier this way, isn’t it. At least, maybe easier for you.

Maybe with you it came upon you much slower, as your intellect has outdistanced your faith development. You woke up one day, and it just did not seem you would be a person of “intellectual integrity” to believe any longer. Was it realizing you were looking at the world “thru rose colored glasses” that did it? You saw the pain and suffering of someone else, maybe in the Far East, in Africa, maybe even your neighbor or your family member? And a good God who what all powerful would not allow this to go on. So, the perfect “philosophical storm” has held you captive and robbed you of your faith.

Well, I understand perfectly. So, live without your faith. But would it be alright to make two requests in the meantime?

1.       Would you mind if I asked you to not be destructive to the faith of others. You choice is just that, your choice. Could I beg you not to allow it to affect (infect?) those whom you influence? If you have been hurt, others will certainly feel your pain. And it’s just possible that your pain or disappointment is so deep that you cannot get over it without repeating it over and over; each time making Christ or His church out to be the bad guy. Do you really want to someone else’s faith-implosion on your conscience?

2.       Would you mind if I asked you to continually test the waters of faith, just in case you have a change of heart? I’ve been reading James K. A. Smith’s  (philosopher par excellence) book, Desiring the Kingdom. In part, he explains education in a new paradigm. We do not make decisions based upon how we are informed but rather how we are formed thru liturgical practices; both for and against faith. Now, by liturgical practices, Smith means any repeated activity which shapes us. Let me try to make this extremely practical. If you stay away from scripture, never pray, cease to recite the Apostle’s Creed, avoid church at all times; you are not making an intellectual decision to reject faith. Rather, you are being (con)formed to the patterns of your practices. So why not try faith, one more time? What can it hurt?

·         Let me encourage you to pick up the Gospel of John, just once a week and read a few chapters. What can it hurt?

·         Let me ask you to try praying, again. You can recite the Psalms (Israel’s Prayer Book) or if you are angry enough go straight to some of the imprecatory passages in the Prophets (Jer 20:7ff, entire book of Habakkuk, or try Job). But avoiding an issue (even if it’s with God) is never the act of a wise man.

·         OK, radical I know, but what about fellowship with the Body of Christ? Yes, I know we at times can be disappointing and even hypocritical. But who else on earth is really seeking Christ? Most folks love Jesus, they just don’t like the Church. But it’s in Church that forgiveness is offered and exchanged. Isn’t that a great concept to explore once again?

·         At least try these because I am certain that there are others in your life that you influence; a spouse, maybe a child. Your practices (even unspoken) may so severely affect the faith of a loved one…that…      

Please Lord,

Would You keep the mouths of some closed.

Would You protect the ears and hearts of their listeners.

Would You  allow the eyes and ears of the faith-less to be newly opened.

Would You open their minds that have been (con)formed to this world.

Would You (trans)form the situations,

All for the sake of Your Glory.  



Now, Go with God.

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