Step 5: You may choose Simple Faith.
February 22, 2009
Pastor Tom Shedd
Some people like making choices, other people struggle with choices.
Making choices can be difficult -- it can produce stress.
Making a major purchase always carries with it a certain amount of stress because you have to make choices.
When its time to get a new TV you have to make choices. What kind are you going to get? How much do they cost? What other equipment do you need to make it work?
Analogy: Simple Faith is like a television set.
Do you know how a TV works?
Interview Mary Lou -
What are your favorite shows right now?
How does a TV work?
When electricity comes from the wall plug, where does it go and what does it do inside the TV?
Can a small child operate a TV?
Therefore, do you have to know anything about how a TV works in order to use it?
When you buy a new TV, bring it home and unpack it, attach the cable, plug it in, what do you expect it to do? You expect it to work.
You have faith that those who built the TV have made it so it works. You don’t need to know how it works in order to use it; you just have to know the basics in order to turn it on.
If you had to go out and buy a new TV, what kind would you get? Would you get an analog set or digital? Would you buy LCD, DLP, or plasma? Would you buy a projector and screen or would you buy a flatscreen? What about the audio? Would you want surround sound? 5.1? 7.1? How big a subwoofer do you want? Do you want your music to play through the same system? Do you want that music to go to other parts of the house?
So if you were going to do more, you would need to know more.
Is it important that some people know how a TV works?
Terry, is a modern TV a very complicated device? Should Mary Lou open it up and work inside it?
Does the small child need to know how a TV works? No, he or she just needs to know how to turn it on and turn the channels.
So is Simple Faith very much like a TV.
As a child has simple faith to turn on the TV and expects a picture and sound to come on, so all of us exhibit the same kind of simple faith when we choose the gospel.
We don’t need to know much at all to turn Simple Faith on. As we grow in faith, as we learn, as we read the Word of God, we get more and more information with which to make decisions.
As we learn a little about different technologies, we are more informed as to which kind of television to buy. Do we want to buy a high definition set? Yes. What does that mean? Do we want to buy a 720p or a 1080p high definition set? 1080p because of the next generation of Blue Ray systems coming out. Do we want plasma or LCD or DLP? Part of the answer depends on cost, but it looks now like LCD will do the job nicely and the prices are coming down.
We still don’t know how a TV works, but we are learning more and more about them in order to make informed decisions.
Your TV starts to act funny. You need to take it in to the repair shop. The technician says you need a new part. Do you really? How do you know? You remember from previous experiences with repairing your car that some places try to take advantage of you, especially if you don’t know much about cars. What about this guy? So maybe you do need to learn a little about TV’s and how they work.
So it is with Simple Faith. If you want to learn, there is a wealth of stuff to learn. What is the Bible? How is it organized? How are you supposed to read it? What does it mean for my life today?
And then you are asked a question. Yikes. I am supposed to help others understand how this all works? Yes and no -- about like a TV. You tell what you know, be honest when you don’t know, and refer them to Terry or Bob, or Rick if their questions are more technical in nature. So it is with televisions, and so it is with Simple Faith.
Let’s make one more analogy with Simple Faith and television.
If the child walks into the room and sits in front of the TV, will it automatically come on? Not yet -- maybe someday in the not to distant future that will be a feature. Why not? Simple enough to do - a motion detector is attached to the on/off switch. You walk in the room, your TV comes on. But as yet, I don’t know of a TV that has this feature built in. At this point, the small child must do something to turn the TV on. These days, pick up the remote, point it at the TV and push the On button. Bingo, TV.
Similarly, just sitting in front of Simple Faith will not activate it for you. You can be in the room with the TV but if no one else is in the room and the TV is off, you will have to do something yourself in order to watch TV. You will have to make a decision to activate it. You will have to faith it.
Faith is more than believing the TV is going to work. Faith is turning it on.
Faith is more than understanding how a TV works. Faith is turning it on.
Faith is more than being able to talk about the history of the development of TV, both technologically and in the history of broadcasting. You can know all that stuff and yet for the TV to work, you have to physically turn it on.
Gracie has just started a class at Pierce on “Broadcasting”. She told me that the prof told the class the first day that the course should really be called the history of television.
Gracie could get an A in the class -- ace the final, receive the top score on her term paper, and become a favorite student of the professor. (And I hope she does.) But when the class is complete in June and she walks into her room and stands in front of her TV, all of her knowledge won’t make the TV turn on. She still has to faith it and manually do something to make her TV come on.
Many people think that if they know stuff, that will turn on Faith. It doesn’t work that way. There is a button on the spiritual remote that says ”faith”. Your remote may say something else, depending on who manufactured the TV. It might say “born again” or it might say “be saved” or it might say “be converted” or it might say “receive Christ as your Savior”. Same button. Does the same thing. Activates the TV.
Once the child turns the TV on, what do they usually do? Sit down and watch it, at least for a little bit. They might get up and play, they might leave it on and do other things. They might even leave the room with the TV on and then come back later to watch something else.
When we faith, we turn it on and then we sit down. In the process of sitting down, we might want to find a comfortable place to sit. When we faith, we look for a comfortable place to sit as well. We have chosen Wings of Faith as our place to sit. Maybe we won’t always sit there, but for now it is a good place to sit.
When a child turns a TV on by themselves for the first time, what do they want to do? Run to mom and tell her, “Mom, mom, look what I did! Come see! Mom, watch -- mom, watch!”
So it is with Faith. When we faith, we want to let people know what we’ve done. “Come watch! Come watch! Look what happened!” This is baptism.
Mom comes into the room and says “Great! You did it! That’s wonderful! Now let me tell you some things about how we watch TV in our house.” And she lays out the guidelines for proper TV watching and improper TV watching.
There is a big difference though between faithing and watching TV. In our house, no TV is left on overnight. We turn our TV’s off when we go to bed.
It is almost embarrassing for me to tell you how many TV’s we have in our house. And what’s more, we have a couple out in the garage that still work that we don’t even use any more because they don’t get enough channels, or they’re too big and bulky. Add to that number the number of computer monitors that we own. Wow.
But we turn them all off each night when we go to bed.
With faith, that is not how it works. Once faith is turned on, it stays on. You may leave the room for a while, but the faith stays on. You may cover the screen, you may press “sleep” on your personal remote, but faith stays on. In that respect faith is more like the power to your home. It is generally always on. If you wake up in the middle of the night, the clock by your bed will still tell you the right time. Generally -- don’t make the analogy walk on all fours, as they say.
We have a fun little clock by our bed. We bought it at Target a number of years ago after seeing it at someone else’s house. If you turn on the switch it shoots a little laser type light up onto the ceiling above your bed so the time appears on the ceiling. Very cool. It’s on all night.
Faith is like that little clock - it’s on even when we sleep. It’s on even when we’re off. We can always come back to it.
But faith has to be turned on. So how do you turn on faith? How does faith go from being a noun to a verb?
12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
13 They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan--this rebirth comes from God.
18 I advise you to buy gold from me--gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. And also buy white garments so you will not be shamed by your nakedness. And buy ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.
19 I am the one who corrects and disciplines everyone I love. Be diligent and turn from your indifference.
20 “Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends.
21 I will invite everyone who is victorious to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.
John 3: 16
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
The message of the prophets - choose.
16 ¶ Wash yourselves and be clean! Let me no longer see your evil deeds. Give up your wicked ways.
17 Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the orphan. Fight for the rights of widows.
18 “Come now, let us argue this out,” says the LORD. “No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.
19 If you will only obey me and let me help you, then you will have plenty to eat.
20 But if you keep turning away and refusing to listen, you will be destroyed by your enemies. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
The message of John the Baptist - choose.
3:1 ¶ In those days John the Baptist began preaching in the Judean wilderness. His message was,
2 “Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
The message of Jesus - choose.
17 From then on, Jesus began to preach, “Turn from your sins and turn to God, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
The message of the NT letters - choose.
6 ¶ In the same way, “Abraham believed God, so God declared him righteous because of his faith.”
7 The real children of Abraham, then, are all those who put their faith in God.
8 What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would accept the Gentiles, too, on the basis of their faith. God promised this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.”
9 And so it is: All who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.
Sophie’s Choice --
In war time people must make horribly difficult choices.
Meryl Streep won an academy award for her portrayal of a Polish woman in WW2 who must make a series of impossible choices. One of the most heart wrenching movies I have ever seen.
What are our most important decisions in life?
Courses in school.
Extracurricular - sports, drama, music
Your major in college.
What job to take.
Your life partner and getting married.
Faithing - and the Kingdom of God
The nature of faith.
Truth as a matter of probabilities.
I am very comfortable with this. I don’t have to make hard decisions about all matters of truth. I can accept that there are probabilities. One of the most incredible truths to surface in the 20C about physics was the principal of uncertainty in the quantum world. You cannot know positions of subatomic particles; you can only speak of probabilities.
However there are times when we have to make choices and we cannot live with probabilities and uncertainty.
When we get married, we make a choice. Yes or no. We enter into a contract with another person that then exempts all others from that relationship. You are married to that one person.
When you finally buy a TV or a car you must make a decision. You can’t buy them all; you’re only going to buy one of them. You write the check -- it’s yours, and you take it home. You don’t write the check and it stays in the store.
Faith is an act of choosing. Faith is simple -- a small child can do it. But it is a decision of the will. It is a contract with God. There is only one unforgivable sin. The sin of not accepting the gift of God’s sacrifice, for there is no means of reconciliation without it.
So as we talk with people about Simple Faith in the coming weeks, we are going to encourage them to make a choice -- to choose to accept God’s gift.
As we do, we want to pray:
For God to lead us to people who need to hear about Simple Faith, and who might respond positively to it.
For empowering by the Holy Spirit to help us be bold and not to fear.
For forgiveness so that we can be clean vessels for the Lord to use. Lord, take us to the dishwasher of life so we can be clean.
For guidance in preparing materials to share with people.
For joy, so that we are sharing because it is a good thing to do, not because of any feelings of guilt.
For God to prepare people - through challenging their thinking, through arranging circumstances of life, through preparing materials for them to read and to view, for preparing them to hear what we have to say about faith.
Next Sunday Rick will be bringing the message and Jonathan will be leading the worship as Mary Lou and I travel north to attend the Valley Church 50th Anniversary weekend, culminating in two concerts next Sunday night where we will be singing and I will conduct a couple of my favorite choral anthems, Brahms, “How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place” from the German Requiem with choir and orchestra, and Jane Marshall’s “My Eternal King” for choir and organ. We’re also working to reassemble a select group called Mirror Image and might present a piece I wrote a number of years ago called “Take it to the One”, which was at that time a contemporary setting of Philippians 4.
When we return the week following, on March 8, we’ll be talking about the practical training we need to share Simple Faith as we begin to gear up for Palm Sunday on April 5 and Easter on April 12.