Finding Faith: The challenge
I don’t often do this, but today, if you are reading this column, I want to challenge you. This is a challenge that will take you outside of your comfort zone and to a place many are reluctant to go. This challenge is designed to make you uncomfortable by taking you away from your normal rhythms. This is intentional as I believe that it is in the uncomfortable places in our lives where true change happens.
With that being said, if you are not willing to at least seriously contemplate and pray about this challenge, then by all means, please stop reading right now. If you continue to read, you may have your life altered in unforeseen ways.
To set the stage, I will give you one of my favorite passages in the Bible, found in the book of James — chapter 3, verses 17 and 18. God’s Word states: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.”
According to this passage, wisdom from heaven that we should aspire to contains the characteristic traits of purity, peacefulness, submissiveness, mercy, and the likes. Do you believe this to be true and does your life reflect it?
My guess is that, by and large, it does not. In so much of our lives, many of us are concerned with being right, proving ourselves worthy of respect in the eyes of our peers and the world, and castigating those in opposition to us. But, if you are a follower of Christ, is that truly what you should be striving after?
Think about the news feeds that you consume. Think about the social media that influences your life. Think about the voices you surround yourself with when it comes to popular and political opinions. My guess is that very little of it could be defined by the characteristics of wisdom found in James 3:17.
So, here’s the challenge — I challenge you to take a media fast one day a week. To go one day per week without checking social media or news feeds on the internet. To not watch the daily news on television. For one day, to not even read the newspaper. Fear not, it will all be waiting for you the following day. Instead, during that day, take time to read a passage from the Bible and spend a couple minutes in prayer before God.
I can guarantee you that your life will be different if you do this. I can guarantee less stress and anxiety in your life. I can guarantee that the world will not stop spinning and your life will not come crashing down because of this. But I can also guarantee that very few, if anyone reading this column will have the conviction to do this. I guarantee it because we are reluctant to change and don’t want to be made uncomfortable — even if it’s beneficial in the long run.
We live in a society that is fractured and becoming increasingly divided.
My guess is that if we turned off these influences and focused our energies on the Creator instead of the differences of the created, then some, if not most of the division in our world would be weakened. Not because we are ignoring existing problems, but simply because we are negating the systems that give them power in our world.
Even if you don’t agree with my assessment (which is perfectly fine) please take to heart the words of James 3:18: Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
Finding Faith is written by area pastors. This week’s column comes from Rev. Scott Garman, pastor of Cedar Heights Brethren in Christ Church in Mill Hall.