The struggle of living a life of faith is real! Yes, I know my identity in Christ. I know the grace that is ever present in my life. This I have also learned–I must live in vulnerability to grow my faith.
Yes, there is that word again. Vulnerability. I cannot repeat myself enough because I have learned this. Vulnerability is really a position of strength. Yes, I know, vulnerability also puts you at risk at having your heart broken, or even smashed. There is risk in vulnerability. It is being brave and afraid at the same time. It is not either or. But living a life of faith with vulnerability is worth it every time.
I can do it because I trust the Promiser. I’ve learned to trust the Promiser by putting myself in daring (i.e. vulnerable) positions. Yes, I’ve had my heart smashed but I also know know know that God is with me.
If we are afraid to live in our vulnerability, we try to make everything that is uncertain to be certain. This includes our faith. Faith needs to be certain so you do everything you can to keep God in a box. The God you serve fits into all of your “supposed to’s.” “I love God so my life is supposed to go ____________________” When that “supposed to” doesn’t happen (and pain becomes a part of your safe life), questioning God’s existence often happens. Suddenly God is less certain so you minimize or decide to walk away from your faith.
That sounds so clinical. While all true, there is a lot of pain involved before your decision to minimize God in your life or to decide to walk away from God. A lot of pain. I’ve been in youth ministry long enough to feel the loss of teens who have chosen to walk away from their faith. I feel this loss and I’m not even the parent. Nor is it wrong for me to hurt because I trained Jim, Bob, Ricky, Sarah, and you-name-the-teen in the faith (and I think I do a pretty real job of it) so they are “supposed to” grow into a brave Christian man. The struggle of living a life of faith is real!
We keep our faith certain with our judgement of Christian people too. We need them to be certain so we place them inside a faith box which matches your beliefs. If someone doesn’t equal your beliefs, you put them in that “other” box and separate yourself from them. To have everyone in our certain box is more comfortable. It helps us also to keep your own faith certain. But this is not how our world is made up, is it?
A certain faith is less vulnerable.
A certain faith is one we create so we feel safe and secure. Maybe even numbed.
A certain faith seeks authoritarian personalities so we can know that our faith is certain. (Ponder that one.)
Romans 14:17 says For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. We can’t measure goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit by certainty. Plus all three of those require trust and vulnerability. We can create a certain faith if we have eating and drinking rules though. The kingdom of God is bigger than our certain faith.
That may create some holy tension in you. This is okay.
Because this is more of a definition of faith than the efforts you are putting forth to keep your faith certain. This is from Lecrae and what he learned about his own faith.
“Rather than ridding you of problems and temptations, following Jesus just means that you have a place–no, a person–to run to when they come. And the power to overcome them. I wish someone had told me this after that night in Atlanta. Because when I started stumbling and faltering after I became a Christian, I hid my struggles. Why? Because I didn’t think it was supposed to go down like that. And because too many Christians I know lived by the same lie and condemned, shamed, and rejected other Christians who messed up. Since I thought I was supposed to be instantly sinless and my Christian friends did too, I lived a double life. I acted like a Christian around other Christians, but I let loose whenever I wasn’t. I can’t tell you where we got the idea that following Jesus is some kind of quick fix for all of our struggles, but it wasn’t from the Bible. No, the Scripture is like one big, unbroken story about people who decided to follow God and ended up failing almost as much as they succeeded.” –Lecrae, Unashamed, p. 117
So true, right?
And isn’t that true about the Bible? It is full of stories of some very awful people. Think about it. How did the scriptures, particularly the Old Testament, make it all these years without these awful people being edited out? Wouldn’t some wise sage had advised that over time? Yet we still get these flawed people and their stories. What other world religion has stories of such flawed (and truly awful) people as part of their holy scriptures? Yet this is what we get as our holy scriptures. There has to be a huge supernatural reason for it.
A certain faith doesn’t allow for Noah to end up as a horrible drunk. A certain faith is all about your image and striving because deep down there is a fear you are covering up. In this moment of holy tension, can you identify that fear?
Can you take your faith out of certainty and into vulnerability to dare what God may do with that faith? Even if you have to feel disappointment? There is bravery all over these questions. I know you can feel that too.
Notice how you’ve had to feel to read this article. I’m hoping to open up some vulnerability inside of you and that requires you to feel and not try to numb.
Can you trust the Promiser with these daring feelings? Can you follow the heartbreak? Can you take your faith from certainty to uncertain because you know that you know that you know that God is for you? Because I promise you that you will emotionally feel that you will know know know that God is with you.
“The brokenhearted are indeed the bravest among us—they dared to love, and they dared to forgive,” (Dr. Brene Brown). This applies to your faith too. The world needs more of this kind of faith and certainly a lot less of certain faith. Besides what the world needs, God’s plan for your life invites more of this Bravester living. Be one of the broken-hearted. Follow your heartbreak.