Faith: Get your motors running for faith
Life, even for Christians, is not meant to be stale.
Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said about life: “Life is truly a ride. We’re all strapped in and no one can stop it. As you make each passage from youth to adulthood to maturity, sometimes you put your arms up and scream; sometimes you just hang on to that bar in front of you. But the ride is the thing. I think the most you can hope for at the end of the life is that your hair’s messed up, you're out of breath, and you didn’t throw up!”
I suspect most of us would not describe our faith lives in such a way. I suspect many of us have unintentionally domesticated our Christian faith to the point where it is predictable and just plain dull. And yet, the Bible has all kinds of stories of faith that are filled with adventure and excitement.
Prior to buying a motorcycle, I heard a great story about an Episcopalian priest who was shopping for a motorcycle. In his conversation with the salesman, the salesman spoke of the speed, acceleration, thrill and risk and how women really dig guys on bikes! When the salesman found out the guy was a minister, his tone and sales pitch changed. He spoke quietly and commented on things like good gas mileage, visibility and how practical it was. The minister later wrote: “Have we told the world that being a Christian is more like riding a lawn mower that a motorcycle? We have made the Christian faith slow, deliberate and plodding and anything but adventurous. And that is sad. And we have done our faith no favors by doing so.
As a culture, we are big believers in stability and security. We believe in home ownership and steadily rising property values. We teach our children how to succeed in school because we believe that the surest path for their stable success is through education. We believe in insurance. We believe in having a solid business plan with focused goals that are measurable and attainable. In short, we are prone to be careful, predictable and plodding—zipping along on our riding lawnmowers.
Let’s be honest, there is nothing adventurous, or thrilling, or risky about this. But here is the thing; I believe we are called to something more exciting, something that actually requires faith. I believe and I can attest to the fact that following Jesus can take you places and doing things you never imagined possible. With the Holy Spirit's nudging we are encouraged to do some very counter cultural things like forgiving others, loving the stranger, being generous toward those in need and simply being kind and respectful of others, especially those who see and experience the world differently. In the eyes of the world around us such behavior is scary and foolish.
In the Book of Hebrews we are told: “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” I love this verse and all its implications! It is awfully hard to trust in something you can’t see and yet Abraham and Sarah in the Book of Genesis did. They lived out their lives on a promise. God tells them to leave behind all the security they have known and go to a new land despite their old age and a sketchy plan at best.
For many leaps of faith can be scary. And yet, as a people of faith, as communities of faith we are called to pay attention to the Holy Spirit, we are encouraged to step out—even when it might not make sense.
Abraham and Sarah, Joseph and Mary, Moses, David, Ruth—all were ordinary folks; there is no indication that they were any more pious, more prayerful, or religious.
They were ordinary folks who made mistakes, and they committed sins, They were folks who were just trying to get along with their lives, when suddenly, in quite an unexpected, unwanted, and unanticipated way they are called to follow, to open a door to the future, to take a risk and jump. They were called to get off their lawn mower and fire up their motorcycle and roar off on a ride of faith. And they did, reluctantly sometimes, but they did it.
Each morning Jesus calls us to put our faith into action in our everyday lives. Jesus knows this isn’t easy. He knows it is scary. That is why he assures us that God will be with us and will care for us. He says in Luke 12, “Don’t be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
We do not need to be afraid to act in faith because we are following Jesus. He is with us to hold our hand and guide our steps. His Holy Spirit dwells within us to give us courage and strength. God has given us victory over all things and as his people that victory is promised to us.
Helen Keller got it right when she said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky put it this way, “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.”
And Mark Twain penned, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than the one you did.”
So, let’s get off that riding lawnmower, climb on a motorcycle of faith and ride! Feel the wind in your face. Let your hair get messed up. Explore. Dream. Discover that, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Amen
Stephen Blenkush is pastor of Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Pequot Lakes.