Sunday, June 9, 2013

Living Broken in a World Dying for Authentic Faith

The cry was long, slow, and mournful. It was the kind you hear when a soul is watching and waiting for authenticity it cannot find.

The thread long since faded from Facebook. Yet, it echoes in my heart. A Christian left his sprinkler system running despite a prohibitive county ordinance. He was a serial offender. I winced.

The post dripped with righteous and justifiable sarcasm. And, as Facebook does, one comment invited another.

It was like a train wreck I couldn’t stop watching. I didn’t want to keep reading and being embarrassed by ‘my kind’, but I couldn’t look away.

I watched the stories unfold. I read as far as the one about a high powered, fancy car driving, preacher-man who routinely ran a four-way stop in his community.

Courtesy A. Squires
I smiled wryly thinking about mobsters who got away with murder – until tiny little numbers did them in. It was racketeering, not murder, which unraveled their empires.

I wondered how the offenders would have reacted had they known they were on Facebook display. Would they have been chastened and repentant? Would they have been arrogant and entitled?

What’s the use of living a big, public faith if the Devil is in the details? You see what I mean, right? I wonder how I measure up when others are reconciling my faith.

When I offer up my tattered faith, will it resonate as true and trustworthy? Will I only provide more Facebook fodder for those
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
who are waiting and watching for authenticity? If perfection is required, I’m lost in the noise of failure.

We’ve stitched up the broken places of our life until all that’s left is a rag tag survival quilt. I pull the tatters close like a mother relishing shreds of the last baby blanket left in the house.

There is no sweet smell in which to bury my nose. No corner remains to rub against the weary cheeks of my soul. I look in the mirror, and mocking thoughts echo back.

You. You and your broken life. The legacy of your brokenness will last long after you are gone. Why do you keep trying? Who is this God before whom you weep? Where is he now? Who’s gonna buy the authenticity of your faith? Loser.

The chiding voice says my faith must be spit-polished to shiny perfection for authenticity’s sake. No one in this Photoshopped magazine spread, Pinterest happy world wants to hear about a broken down, weary, sweaty, hard fought for, tenacious faith. N.o.b.o.d.y.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
Yet, I look around me at the bloody landscape of a dying world. A world that is clamoring and gasping for spiritual authenticity. Watching so closely they know when we run a four way or leave a sprinkler churning and spinning day after illegal day.

I try to think of someone I know whose life is without pain or crisis. Someone whose life is Pinterest or Kardashian beautiful.

The truth is sobering. I am not alone. Every single Christian I know who is living a life of authentic faith is hurting for one reason or another. None of the wounds are easy fixes. We are all living out our faith in the trenches. Trench warfare is neither easy nor pretty. Nor pinnable.

I wonder who is watching when I am unaware. When the Devil creeps into the details of my life, will a soul gasping for authenticity cry out, “A-ha! I gotcha!” and sit back smug and self-satisfied because I have lived down to his or her lowest expectations?
Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative

When I tell the truth that faith is work and often yields no immediate reward, will the words resonate in a life giving way? Will the authenticity of my faith take root and grow in someone else’s life?

I am living a broken and imperfect life and faith in the midst of world that is dying for authenticity. If you think you are too broken to be fixed, you are not alone. Walk with me?

Courtesy B. Creasy - 2010
Romans 12:1-2 (The Message)
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.