I have only been in ministry full time for a decade – longer than some, but far less than many more. One thing I’ve noticed is how faith has different themes that ‘trend’ in a way to keep our expression of faith relevant. There are different ‘fads’ that we hold onto – almost all with strong legitimate scriptural basis. I’ve seen strong focuses and campaigns that revolve around evangelism, spiritual practices, apologetics, and social justice.
In many ways these campaigns raise awareness of key areas of our faith that we can grow in and mature our faith. The branding, advertising, and promotion of these focuses is sophisticated, creative, and facilities interest. I have my thoughts on many of these campaigns having participated in them, and perhaps on another blog post I will reflect on them. This post though is about something different.
The reason I mention these campaigns is there is a temptation for some to measure a person’s faithfulness to God by how they engage with these topics, or even how much they participate in specific programs. For some these themes or topics can even define what faith in God is. I’ve seen these perspectives shared first hand. Naturally when we are passionate on a theme or topic it’s hard to see beyond that passion to a broader perspective on that topic – it becomes an unintentional (or even intentional) if you’re not with us, you’re against us mentality. This is the same attitude often displayed from a younger generation to the next as they see different priorities reflected in a different generation. The reality is that each generation goes through this – both in the church and out of it. The reality is this approach can lead to dismissing whole groups of people as irrelevant – especially seniors. When we begin to dismiss people, we begin to dismiss parts of God’s story of how He works in this world. Living out faith does not hinge on getting the ‘theme of the week’ but in living in obedience to who God wants us to be.
Over and over again I’v been told that the future of our churches rests in the youth of today but have also been reminded that the future of the church rests in the whole body of believers including the seniors of today. My elders, those older than me, have offered me stories of faith, and a provided me a witness of life lived in faith. Over and over again. Over the years I have heard the truth of God’s faithfulness and how Great it is. These stories shared by my elders ar a reminder that in the body of Christ we are all of one body and need each other.
The latest reminder has come as I’ve gotten to know Selma. Selma is elderly and is wrestling with ALS. Her muscles are not working and her health has deteriorated since I first met her and her husband Ed. The reality is I will be doing Selma’s funeral at some point in the future. Selma’s witness to me has been a reminder that all the programs, campaigns, and trends are just things that partially point to the one great truth revealed in Christ, and shared with us in the Word of God. The programs, campaigns and trends are just a glimpse at one part of the story – and there is much more to the story than they individually offer. As I have gotten to know Selma, it is so clear that Selma has lived a life of faith. She has ministered to the body of Christ using her musical gifts for 60 years. She has cared for many, loved selflessly, modeled Godly love for her husband, raised her children, and ministered to those in the world around her. Even in her illness all praise and glory is given to God. Somehow the testimony of a life lived in faith shares a bigger picture of the story of faith than any one trend can. It’s amazing the power of story – especially when it is God’s story of His working in our lives.
As Selma’s body continues to weaken – her faith in God and her spirit show the strength of faith that many of us wish to one day have. Selma is a part of the cloud of witnesses that surrounds me. She is a Saint – a person of faith who’s life points to the one true God. On our piano is a Christmas gift of a needlepoint Selma made. The needlepoint is of a flower in bloom. Selma’s faith is in full bloom as she looks forward to meeting her Lord and Saviour. For me I’ve been blessed, reminded, and challenged to ensure my faith is rooted fully in the grace of God. Thank you Selma.
One of the scriptures Selma has shared with me are the words found in Lamentations 3:21-23:
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
How Great indeed is God’s faithfulness and may we all experience the glory of God’s compassions made new each and every morning in our lives.