I live just outside Kansas City, Kansas and if you know anything about Kansas you know that there are farms everywhere. With a few exceptions everything between me and Denver, Colorado is a farm; that's 600 miles of crops, cows, and chickens. Moving here from Metro-Detroit was a bit of a culture change for me. I didn't know what 4-H was until I moved here, so you can imagine my shock when I found out some of my students were cow and pig state champions in a contest I had never heard of. But I've been here for almost 2 years now and I've come to appreciate the 4-H aspect of life. And one day while driving back from a conference, looking out into the endless miles of farm land I began to compare faith with the different lifestyles I've experienced. Big cities represent all that is sexy in our world, instant access to anything we want, life is cushy. On the flip side, when we think of farming and country life we think of hard work, early mornings, patience, discipline, and work ethic. In relative terms country life is 'harder' than city life.
Can these same thoughts be applied to our faith? Do we sometimes fall in love with 'big city' faith? In other words do we fall in love with the flashy church, the smoke machines, cool videos, watered down sermons and big buildings because of their sexiness? their easiness? And in that process do we lose touch with what really matters in our faith: discipline, hard work, patience, and endurance? Even as I write this I can feel myself wanting to pull away from the hard work and find a short cut.
But I'm convinced that real growth, real maturity is a product of hard work, hard times, and an honest realization of who we are in relation to God. Somehow the idea that being a Christian makes life easier has become truth, when in fact the opposite is true. Being a Christian makes life more difficult. When we commit ourselves to God we begin a process of refinement and purification. The Holy Spirit begins to build the fruit of the Spirit into our lives, we begin to act and think and speak in ways that honor God. The world isn't ready for that, they don't want to hear it or see it.
The bottom line is faith is tougher than most of us would like to imagine. We like to think that we've got it all together, but we don't. And I think that's the point. When we can honestly admit to ourselves that we don't have it together, we'll finally realize why God is so good. He knows we don't have it together yet he loves us. He knows our sinful hearts yet he pursues us. He knows we deserve hell yet he saved us from it.
We don't have it all together, but we don't have to. God is in control. He can put it all back together.