Update: Apparently God decided to surprise me yet again. The sermon was a refreshing lesson for me both while preparing the last bits and seeing the whole thing, and also while preaching it. The feedback from the congregation was very encouraging as well. I have never had such a powerful feedback on a sermon I’ve preached, so it was a very humbling experience on top of all else. I think they believed my message. I actually think I came to believe more than when I started preparing for the sermon and all the questions started popping up.
In the past few weeks I’ve been working on a sermon about God’s mission and our part in it. It’s been a really refreshing thing for me. Especially because in the last several years the direction of my faith has been downwards. More like rolling down a hill actually…
In the midst of all the excitement around that sermon the following thought came about “Will they believe my message if I don’t believe it myself?” It actually led me to reflecting on the way we, Christians, tend to “testify” to the world today… When Christ called us to go and teach the world about Him and make disciples he pointed out two most important details: 1) all authority is given to Him (and that’s all as in ALL), and 2) He is with us as we’re going after this mission.
I know that I myself have very often been the scared Christian, or the too-careful-one. I’ve often decided to keep quiet rather than speak out the truth. I’ve often decided to pray silently, rather than disturb the secular enjoyment of others around me and show what I actually care about. I suppose this won’t change over-night either, but at the moment I’m thinking too much about it and couldn’t keep from sharing it with you all.
So, I’m preparing this sermon which is supposed to challenge the lives of young and old people and help them embrace God’s mission to share the Gospel with non-believers, love Him, and love the other people around. And I keep coming to one key moment – in order for us to carry out the mission successfully we ought to be fearless, full of faith, and entirely determined.
That’s fine, probably I could even defend that theologically better than I think I could, but that seems to be the least proof an unbelieving world cares about. As cheesy and worn-out as it might sound, what the world cares about is whether I do what I’m telling them to do. Which is actually the outward expression of whether I believe my message. If I were to preach to myself I probably wouldn’t be quite convinced at the end of the sermon, because I know my failures, I know my mistakes, and I also remember the times when I could have said something but I didn’t.
Yes, yes, I know God probably doesn’t look at it quite that way, but all this leads to a sad reality – the one of losing the faith I once had. 5-6 years ago, I remember I would pray and I would literally see God’s face before me. Today I couldn’t describe it because I haven’t seen it for so long that I’ve forgotten most of it. But I do have the clear memory that it happened every time I would pray. Back then I also prayed with faith… and I mean the real thing. I remember praying for healing and the thoughts of it not happening, the doubts, and all that – wasn’t there. I also remember praying for things that seemed impossible, yet did happen. I also remember once praying for something, God gave it to me, and a week later I had to give it back… because it wasn’t something I should have. Yet, I prayed with as much faith, as I had when I left it.
Today the case seems to be so that I only have faith when I need to give things up. And that’s not so much faith as in Faith, but rather a hope of one who’s desperate and helpless. Where did the faith go? I have no idea. I know when it started slipping away, but I’m still in the unknown when it comes to its destination. What I know is that I rather not pray for certain things verbally or in my mind, because it would come out as the babbling Jesus talked about. My only hope is that will look deep inside me and somewhere there find a sparkle that will get Him excited again.
So, I’m preparing this sermon which is supposed to challenge the lives of young and old people and I’m wondering Will they believe the message of one with so little faith? I can’t testify of a mission carried out fearlessly. I can’t find a recent example of a full-of-faith mission either. I think I’m still a bit determined, but far from entirely.
Sometimes, in trying to excuse ourselves we tend to call this “maturing faith.” The problem is, for 4 years already I haven’t been able to realize how losing faith can actually be maturing in faith. Perhaps it’s a much bigger problem.
Pray for me. I’m preaching on Sunday, June 8.
And thanks for reading it all… if you’ve gotten that far, that is.