“We are what we repeatedly do.” -Aristotle
Not sure if you saw the online article trending late last week with the news flash that faith in God is decreasing amongst millenials. Though 68% of young people still say they believe in God, that number is down 15% in just the last few years. This is a problem.
As I was thinking about this, I read a good article about Mat Kearney. Need a recommendation on a great singer songwriter? Check out Kearney here. Kearney is an interesting guy because he is an amazing songwriter, a guy who is popular on a couple different musical platforms, and he is also a Christ follower. How did this happen? This article explains his journey a bit, but he said the genesis of his faith came when he was exposed to the HOPE of Christianity. It was the good news of Jesus that attracted him.
“It was sort of the Sodom and Gomorra of the college world,” he jokes. “I was your typical college student. We’re told we should be chasing sex and intoxication. The more I was diving into that, the more it was leaving me with a sense of despair. I just found it very unfulfilling.” Kearney was intrigued by the message of hope and redemption he learned about in a college course on the Bible. “The more I studied the ideas, the more it resonated with me,” he says. “My spirituality and faith is a huge part of how I live my life.”
Hope, good news, redemption, fulfillment. These are the promises that attract a generation that is swiftly moving away from faith. Christ is about bringing us into union with Himself. But regretfully that’s not always the story we’ve been telling as a church. Kearney talks about the church’s problems here: “I’m sorry the church has become a lobbyist group for greed and things that have nothing to do with the character of Christ,” he says. “He chose to love the unlovable, the needy and the sick and the orphaned.”
Kearney said he doesn’t want to preach- but wants to be a great songwriter. This is a different blog post, but I love his perspective. Lord knows the world has too many preachers (hmm), we need more musicians, fishermen, or teachers, or whatever God has given you to do well. When we live out our calling, we’re serving God well. Kearney says, “I think my faith has less to do with political aspiration and more to do with the fact that God seeks man out of a desire for a loving relationship. That’s the issue we should be talking about in Christianity.”
What can I can say to that? Yup. More about God seeking humans. Yup. More about God’s desire for a loving relationship. Yup. More about the unlovable, the needy, the orphaned. Yup.
Problem is…the problem isn’t always out there…with other Christians. It often starts right here- with me. Even as I type these words, the magnifying glass goes to my own practices. How have I served the homeless lately? How have I loved the orphan lately? I’ll confess…I need a tune up on my Jesus practices. Jesus said it clearly, if you want to follow than there are tangible and practical things to do: visit orphans, serve the hungry, care for others. It isn’t theological, it’s a very practical “to do” list. Simply put- you are what you do. Not what you say believe. What you actually do is what counts.
That’s why at the church I lead, we will start collecting food again in July for Hopelink. I’ll be a part of that. Not because I’m holier than someone else, but because I realize I must take steps in my daily life that reflect my Christian values. As small as a food drive is, or a single day serving at Jacobs Well, or a night spent visiting seniors at Arden Center, or my participation in one of our Spilling Hope 365 events…these are all small tiny steps…but each small tiny steps teaches me a little bit about what Jesus wants me to be about.
As a church, we’ve done some great things, and we continue to do good things. And we’ve got sound orthodoxy- the things we belief. But we should be careful that our orthodoxy never outshines our orthopraxy. Orthopraxy literally means correct action. The things we need to be doing are more important than the things we think about. Perhaps as we step into this calling, more young people will feel encouraged to take a fresh look at the faith they have moved away from. This truly is our calling- to be bearers of the good news. We’ve got some work to do.