Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Routine Faithfulness

I was challenged to take a deeper look at the concept of faithfulness.  In the Christian realm it has taken on a sort of hum drum nuance.  The reality is that being faithful is much more than what I had an understanding of.  I always understood faithfulness as a sort of continually doing the right thing.  Because of this mindset, it was, unsuspectingly a very works based matter. 
If you do the right thing continually, you are faithful.

If you do not do the right thing, you are not faithful.

If you mess up, you lose a certain amount from your faithfulness account.  You may still be faithful, but you have definitely lost your standing on the faithfulness ladder by a few rungs.

This is the understanding I grew up with while singing songs like, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” which sings of God’s wonderful faithfulness (by the standards I have mentioned above).  It still rings true, He is faithful in that manner, but in an even greater way as well.

I began to take a look at this word and what it means in the Bible.  Faithfulness, even with the meaning mentioned, is not something that should just be bypassed.  I mean, how much faithfulness do we see in our world today?  I am not talking about someone doing the same thing “faithfully” for years and we dub them faithful when really it is them being stuck in a rut, being lazy, or just being an incurable creature of habit.  That isn’t faithfulness.

A faithful marriage isn’t some a couple that settles after a few years because they don’t want to mess with divorce, it is easier to stay put, or they can’t do any better so they might as well stay.  A faithful marriage is one that continues to grow, continues to stir up the love that the couple has between them.  An image of a faithful marriage is when we see a sweet elderly couple holding hands as they walk along.  Contrarily, I have seen 50 year marriages that were not as much faithful as they were an ongoing battle that continued because the couple didn’t know what else to do.

In the Hebrew language (The language spoken in the Old Testament) faithful is described as supportive, confirming, to be established, to be carried, to make and stand firm, to trust, to be certain, to believe in.  That is a lot more than just doing the same thing over and over again monotonously, out of routine, or in the hopes of not messing up to build up an account.  In the Greek (the languages of the New Testament) faithful is considered trusty, easily persuaded, believing, confiding, or trusting.  This fits more with what I have always understood, and yet it is still more.  

Easily persuaded sticks out to me here, am I easily persuaded by God to do what He has asked of me in a faithful way?  I think I am more faithful to me, to the “rules”, to the new law than I am to God.  Am I more faithful to my concept of religious ritual (though they may be good) than I am to the leading of His Spirit if the leading is outside of my comfortable areas?  Do I feel confident that God confides His plans to me, and more than that, do I feel like I am open to His confiding?  Do I believe, I mean really believe?  Or am I lackadaisical, just doing the same thing over and over, sticking to what I know and counting that faithful?

Faithfulness is more than a routine.

I can pick a routine that is comfortable and snap into place like a puzzle piece.  The problem is that God’s plans are not always as clean and fitting as a puzzle piece.  Sometimes there are messy spots in life; can I be truly faithful in those times?  Think about this faithfulness…

To be established
To be carried
To make and stand firm,
To trust
To be certain
To believe in
Easily persuaded (in a good way, in a way that understand the other side has your best interest in mind)

Think about them, and then think about how God is infinitely more faithful than us.  Think about how He has proven this in so many different ways to us.  Imagine what a church would look like if it was full of faithful people (I am not saying they don’t exist, I am just saying imagine).  What would we look like in our workplaces with these characteristics?  Our marriages?  Friendships?  Dating relationships?  

This faithfulness is not mundane.  It is not merely habitual actions.  It is transformation, the same we see mentioned in Romans 12

“So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.  This is a view into sanctification, a life that looks like this is a life that reflects Christ.”

Faith is what draws us close to God.  A life full of that ever growing faith leads us to faithfulness.  If our faith leads us to more of static custom than a ever strengthening bond with God we have a poor understanding of what being faithful truly is.  

Simply put faithfulness is alive, custom is stagnate.

This perspective changes things (at least for me)…and so does being faithful. 

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