This morning I heard someone make a passing reference that I can't let go by without calling it forth, picking it apart, and throwing it in the garbage heap.
Ostensibly it was made in connection with the Supreme Court decisions on marriage yesterday, although it was not in a discussion of that. It was a general comment that the Christian Church has faced challenges throughout history, and some general references were made, including to today's issues of abortion and the sanctity of marriage. And the comment was "We shouldn't let it [the fact that the Church is challenged] shake our faith."
Personal note of my own spiritual formation: I'm learning to articulate a reality that has often confused me. When I heard this I had an immediate red flag, but it wasn't about the logic, nor the historical record nor any objective doctrinal or personal disagreement with the speaker, nor any imagined fault on his part. It wasn't about the words themselves, but the spirit behind the words. (I hate it, though, when I get a rock solid sure sense of something that seems that intangible. I'm still learning.)
Now I'll pick apart.
You see, the enemy of our souls wants "Don't let it shake your faith" to translate in our experience as "Don't let it upset your complacency." "Our faith" sometimes really is simply our smug self-satisfaction at how we've arranged a sense of moral and religious decency -- nothing too drastic, just an arrangement we are comfortable with. Something that serves us to get along reasonably. This way of operating doesn't have squat to do with Jesus Christ or Christianity. And the enemy of our souls loves it.
So then comes some big challenge. You were all comfortable with your "faith" and then boom: your husband is sleeping around, or your adult child enters a shocking lifestyle, or you are given six months to live, or you lose your job and your home. How do you respond? You were complacent. You were "happy." And now what? Well, you feel like the floor fell out under you, because what was under you was only your self-managed sense of decency. And it is shifting sand that the rains wash away, leaving you with everything in shambles.
Christianity, Jesus Christ active in time and space through His Church, comes to mercifully shake the hell out of us. Do let the trial shake your faith, by all means! Shaking is the only way we stop relying on our totally lame efforts to prop up our own lives with our smugness and our decency and our comforts. In His mercy Christ shakes us until all that crap can fall away. The call to follow Jesus means to build our lives on Him, not on ourselves and our own decency.
Only after we've gotten the shifting sands out of the picture am I able to build on reality, on love that is certain, on God's eternal faithfulness. Then those same winds and storms will blow -- they never leave the scene! -- but we will be secure. We are tested repeatedly and so we reaffirm repeatedly that our only security comes in how deeply we are loved by God. And with each test, we are purified.
So, let the challenges shake your faith. Let them rip your complacency to shreds and send it back to hell where it came from. And get down on your knees, or stand up with arms outstretched, whatever, and give thanks, praise and glory to God who has treated you with such great mercy as to let you be purified by the great gift of a raging storm. Stay with Him and He will absolutely prove His faithfulness.