My New Year’s resolutions are taking shape. Sharing my faith more, kicking Mountain Dew, memorizing a Bible book. A student I mentored in youth group recently announced that she’s committed all of Romans to memory. The student has surpassed the
master small group leader dude who read off the questions for his small group while parents did the spiritual lifting at home.
Sadly, all my resolutions closely resemble last year’s.
You know how this goes. Tiny habits you’d like to kick swell suddenly into towering bulwarks. Seemingly insignificant goals turn into mind-bending labyrinths. Exhaustion doesn’t preempt Netflix, but it does preempt the resolutions.They just don’t seem to happen.
So every year, along with our resolutions comes a host of wry jokes and knowing winks about how badly they’ll flop. (If history is any indication, my Mountain Dew purge will last a month.) It’s become a pastime to treat resolutions like a foregone conclusion – of failure. As if we’re stuck with our foibles and flaws forever.
But my view began to change when I read the Bible and discovered that I might have access to a power source I never even tried.
I knew this would happen.
After a two-month period bringing vital answers to prayer, I’m basking in the relief and renewed hope. You’d think I would be spurred on to a season of thanksgiving and even greater prayer.
But no…the reverse happens. Instead, I’m tempted to “take five” from prayer. Well, that was great, Lord. I’ll stop for a while now. After all, he’s good. He knows I’m grateful. Surely my “stockpile” of previous prayers will bounce around heaven and do some good for a while. Or something like that.
It’s really nothing more than Thanks God See You Next Crisis Syndrome, and I’m a case study. God help me.
“Love of ease, spiritual indolence, religious slothfulness, all operate against this type of petitioning. Our praying, however, needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistence which will not be denied, and a courage which never fails.” – E.M. Bounds
I hear it all the time. “It’s fine to believe what you believe – just keep it to yourself,” you say. “Faith should be a personal thing.”
Or the more crass version: “Religion is like a [male body part]. Any guy can have one, but once you start waving it in people’s faces, it becomes a problem.”
Noted actor Denzel Washington is a Christian. He has been praised in certain circles for not “wearing his faith on his sleeve”. Apparently people see this as a sign of maturity and restraint on Mr. Washington’s part, a demonstration of how religion should be lived.
If you are one of those people, I come to you in friendship. But I honestly must question how much you really know about our faith.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Imagine for a moment that you had terminal cancer, but nobody told you. Your doctor withheld the diagnosis. Your family didn’t call attention to the warning signs. Your friends said they “didn’t want to upset you”. Would you be grateful and appreciative?
If you rely on Facebook to find your prospects, you might want to reevaluate things.
But sometimes Facebook just ends up being part of our first impression. It’s the world we live in. You meet someone, you sneak in a brief chat, and then go home and…friend each other. Hopefully in that order.
And in that moment, our Facebook feed can say a lot about us. Just like clothing or mannerisms can. File this entire post under the category “Like it or not”. As in, like it or not, Facebook has become a separate domain of our existence, right alongside “work” or “home”. It reveals our witness, and it sells our character in more ways than you might think.
Assuming you’re looking to do your part in finding a Christian spouse while God does his part, and assuming you’re out for his very best, here are a few ideas to flag down the kind of person you’re looking for.
(If you’re the kind who doesn’t post much on Facebook anyway and just uses it to keep track of friends, consider yourself excused from this.)
1. Show evidence you’re a Christian
You might have heard the question, “If you were arrested and put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” The point being, Christianity is not something to be kept on the down-low.
It’s a Wonderful Life has power like few other films to restore my faith in mankind.
Or at least that’s what I was going to write.
I saw a screening of the film at a friend’s house and drove home in my usual condition: more full of thoughts than I’d like. My Facebook feed awaited me with news of yet another couple grieving over their newborn’s passing. A friend sharing the effects of a years-long depression. More development on the San Bernardino shootings, over which the unbelieving world (voiced by the New York Daily News) finally threw off the last vestiges of their polite silence and hollered “God isn’t fixing this!“.
A cold blast of reality, like the one George Bailey got when his angel announced he’d gotten his wish, and no longer existed.
Sometimes George’s alternate reality, its eeriness anticipating the Twilight Zone a decade in advance, feels more like ours than George’s real one.
Maybe that’s why I was tempted to paint It’s a Wonderful Life as a faith-in-mankind movie. It’s the safer portrait. It was the original intention of the director. It sticks to viewing the movie as a feel-good experience, instead of looking a chaotic world straight in the eye to make the audacious, incredible, ridiculous claim that God is the powerful one.
But perhaps I’m not supposed to be playing it safe.
Perhaps I – we – should be walking straight into the audacity and planting our flag.
Yes. God does respond to prayer. He does choose to operate that way. He does answer our requests.