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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Be a "stand out" kind of person

In a society where "individuality" is proclaimed in all manner of dress, hairstyle, "body art", jewelry, and the like, it is quite hard to see some of the other not so "obvious" things which make us stand apart from the rest.  In fact, in areas where you might run into some our Amish, Mennonite, or Quaker friends, you might observe their traditions of simple dress, head coverings, and even forgoing the use of automobiles as really making them "stand apart" from the crowd around them.  It isn't their mode of dress or their use of horse-drawn buggies which really sets them apart though - for in their eyes, these are only outward signs of something much more significant on the inside - their faith in God.  Don't get this wrong, for I admire their beliefs, but there are a whole lot more in our society with deep relationships with Jesus who have not chosen this way of dressing or living.  It doesn't mean they don't "stand out" in some regard above the crowd, but it may be we have to look inwardly a little more with those who don't "dress" based on their faith. In fact, we may have to look past a good deal of "body art", piercings, and even some trendy clothes to see a solidly grounded believer!  What makes each believer stand out is not their "dress" or choice of "vehicle" in life, but their actions and intentions - in other words, their display of their trust in God in all they think and act upon.

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. (Hebrews 11:1-2 MSG)

According to our passage, we "fundamental fact of existence" is that our trust in God is what makes all of our life worth living - making every breath a worthwhile experience!  Something which is "fundamental" is a basic part of our lives - without it, life is just not the same.  According to our writer, without this trust in God, all of life is somehow incomplete - there is a missing fundamental "part".  That which is fundamental is part of the original source of what is needed to make something complete or whole.  Try making a cake without the fundamental ingredient of flour and you don't have cake! You might be able to get away without an egg yolk or two, but try to get away without the flour and you just don't have cake!  There is something about our existence in this world apart from God at the center of our being which leaves us "lacking" in many ways.  When he is rightly at the center, what gives us "foundation" is there, as well.  

Trust in God is more than a mental assent to some theological belief system, though.  The idea of mental assent is merely religious pursuit and not a relationship with the Most High God.  It is us working our way into some form of "feeling" different about ourselves, or believing we have entered into a higher plane of sorts.  Trust in God is different - it is us denying all we can do or attain and placing our entirety of trust in what God has done for us already. In this regard, it is "fundamentally" important we truly "get" this idea of the difference between religious pursuit and relationship.  What is fundamental to our faith being grounded in what is a basic part of our lives is that we cannot do what only God can do on our behalf!  Trust is the reliance upon the integrity of something or someone to do what they proclaim to do.  If God said to us that whoever would believe in him (trust him to do what we cannot do ourselves) would receive (not earn) eternal life (in his presence and fully in relationship with him), we would be operating outside of "trust" if we placed our focus on anything other than what he does on our behalf.

Now, if we are to understand how this "fundamental belief" and "foundational trust" make a difference in our lives, we need to understand they give us this "handle on what we cannot see".  Not much in the realm of God's presence is sensed through our "seeing eye", but rather our "sensing spirit".  We understand he is present with us because we sense a peace which supersedes the "natural peace" we could "muster up" in the midst of some of the most challenging issues we face in this world.  Faith incorporates what we "know" with our minds, what we "sense" with our hearts and spirits, and what we "believe" as a result of both.  It also encompasses what we accept as a "fundamental fact" - that God at the core of our beings is what we were originally designed for.  When what belongs at the core is missing, the resulting "space" creates opportunity for other things to occupy that space, but nothing will fill it to capacity, nor will it fill it with what our original "design" expected.

It is our faith which sets us above the crowds - what we allow into the core of our being and what we accept as truth in our hearts / minds.  It is what we do with this "space" in our lives which really matters - where it is we seek and with what it is we seek to be filled.  If we trust in the right stuff, our foundation will be secure.  Faith is not a "belief system", but a lifestyle which causes others to notice we stand out from among the crowd.  We don't stand out because of what we do, wear, or drive, but because of "who" is at the core of our being.  Just sayin!