Friday, April 11, 2008

There's a Shallow Faith

Becoming a Christian is easy enough--at least once one swallows the pride that says, "Surely I must play a major role in my own salvation." Doing obviously "Christian" things such as going to church, or refraining from theft and adultery, is fairly simple in the "free world." But growing into the best Christians we can be--cooperating with God when He wants to make major changes in our self-centered attitudes--can be a serious struggle.

Too many believers think of Christianity as being primarily about them--as a means of having their needs met, their wishes granted, or their lives kept running smoothly. These are the people who, as in Christ's parable of the sower, have hearts filled with "stones" (aversion to difficulty) or "thorns" (attachment to worldly commitments) and fail to let the seed of God's Word take full root. Their hope is primarily for their own interests, their joy is dependent on circumstances, and their faith fails to accomplish anything significant.

The greatest purpose there is--the one goal to which our faith and lives should become more and more committed as we mature--is God's glory alone. And frequently the only way He can get our attention off ourselves and onto Him, is to take away the earthly things our minds so easily become fixed on. We may be think we'd be better Christians if God granted our every request and kept our lives free from hard times. But as with children who get everything they want on demand, it's more likely that we'd turn into whining, selfish brats whose capacity for happiness was never realized because we never experienced the joy of conquering difficulties.

True, strong character has to be forged through struggle.

There's a shallow faith that's absorbed from books
And believes in what it can measure,
But the faith that trusts through the keenest pain
Can be forged only under pressure.

There's a shallow hope for when things run smooth,
That thinks only of earthly blessings,
But the hope that longs for the heavenly things
Is squeezed only from hardships' pressings.

There's a shallow joy that depends on life's
And God's giving us what we long for,
But the joy that sings in a prison cell
Will need trials to make us strong for.

There's a shallow love that gives as it gets
And that picks and chooses its neighbor,
But the love that dies for its enemies
Is the fruit of a painful labor.

It's a shallow life that is lived for self
And thinks little of God and others:
If you would drink deep of the Spirit's power,
Greet your trials as your welcome brothers!

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