Thursday, September 11, 2014

Faith Muscles

Opinion polls repeatedly reveal that most Americans claim some sort of belief in God, or a god, or a higher power/supreme being. (Whether or not they mean they believe in the God of the Bible is up for debate.) And yet, despite high profession of "belief," attendance at houses of worship continues to be low (some reports say around 30% of the population). In most mainline churches, getting a 50% attendance versus membership rate is considered a success. We believe in...something...or someone...but somewhere along the way, we seem to have gotten the idea that we quit there. As long as we believe and live a "reasonably good life," we don't have to do any more. Somewhere we have bought the idea that faith just "happens."

Some think that because their parents were Christian...or had some sort of faith...they, too, instantly are that same faith. As if the nutrients that flow from the mother to the baby in the womb contains some sort of "faith seed" that makes you the same as your parents. You believe whatever they believe (though, of course, that's changed in recent years) or you believe because they believe. But that still supports the false notion that faith just "happens."

It doesn't. Many churches over the years consist of grandparents and parents that are heavily involved in the church and have been for generations, but where are the kids? And the grandkids? No where to be seen. Faith didn't just "happen." And the idea that they will "come back someday" is increasingly being proven false.

Developing our faith takes a deliberate act.  Even for those who are active in the church and do attend worship, faith doesn't just rub off. Faith doesn't just "happen." Like anything worth doing, faith takes work and planning. We don't inherit faith like a genetic disposition. We can't hang onto our father's or mother's faith. Faith has to be our own. We have to develop it and allow it to grow in our lives.

What does it look like when we are intentional about developing our faith? I suppose it's different for each person still, here are some ideas of how people deliberately work at their faith.

It looks like a parent reading the Bible to her children before bed.
It looks like a parent taking time to pray with their children even before they know what prayer is.
It looks like a family worshiping together.
It looks like a businessperson  making the time to join a small group Bible study even though there are a thousand demands on his or her time.
It might look like simply going to worship every week rather than once a month.
It looks like getting up early to study the Bible and pray before the day begins—or carving out consistent time during the day to do the same.
It looks like a Sunday School teacher studying before arriving at church so that he or she is ready to help shape younger people's faith.
It looks like making a commitment to a long-term Bible study so that you can stop making the excuse, "I just don't understand what's in there."

It looks like this and a million other things we do to develop our faith. People spend millions of dollars and maybe as many hours to develop their healthy lifestyle, to lose weight, to work out—to do things that help their body be stronger and live longer. Why are we not willing to invest the same effort in developing our faith muscles?

What intentional step will you take today toward developing your faith muscles?

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