Thursday, March 09, 2006

Religion in silver slippers

Every wednesday evening my wife and I teach a "sunday school" class of young kids (ages 9 - 13). As a lesson we've been reading through Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan, in ye Olde English, at our pastors request. It's been quite the experience; especially, for me as I continually see children respond with such dear faith to the truths that appear out of that journey. I am repeatedly challanged to be far more faithful in my own spiritual walk.

Tonight's section of the book had a number of very important lessons: For those who have read the book we just ventured out of Vanity Fair after the death of Faithful and have met Mr. By-Ends on the road. If you haven't read the book check the posted link above. In either case, the section I am referring to is Part One, Section VI. What really struck me tonight was a portion that dealt with fairweather faith.

At one point Mr. By-Ends elaborates on his "statement" of faith as follows,
"Tis true we somewhat differ in Religion from those of the stricter sort, yet but in two small points: First, we never strive against Wind and Tide: Secondly, we are always most zealous when Religion goes in his Silver Slippers; we love much towalk with him in the Street, if the Sun shines, and the people applaud him."

The text is outlining an issue that is all too prevelant in religious circles today: the "Fairweather Christian". No doubt you have witnessed someone who has exhibited this behaviour, I know that I have. Perhaps the more pertinent question, though, is not whether you have seen it, rather what is your own response to adversity? Have we become so complacent in our Christian walks that we have not considered our own response to hardship? In another sense, have we made our faith into something that is only necessary when it affords us some sort of gain? (At which point I would also question the reality of that faith).

Christian (who is the title character of Pilgrim's Progress) responds to Mr. By-Ends in this way: "If you will go with us, you must go against Wind and Tide, the which, I perceive, is against your opinion; you must also own Religion in his Rags, as well as when in his Silver Slippers, and stand by him too, when bound in Irons, as well as when he walketh the Streets with applause."

As Christians we are called to expect tribulations and trials and should grace be extended, to endure them without fail. We must not satisfy ourselves with shallow faith that flees at the first sign of trouble or is only apparent when it suits our purposes. At the other end of the spectrum, we see that we should also be able to effectively appreciate the successes of Christianity without depreciating them or shying away from them. Christianity should be the way you live and no matter what happens the first response should be to look to Christ. Whether it's out of repentence or grief or shame or joy.

If nothing else, the question I wanted to really leave out there was: how do we temper our faith? Is it forged on nothing but saving faith in Jesus Christ or has it become a mask that we wear, convieniently dissappearing when trials or adverisity arise? Depending on how you respond to that question it may be time to prayerfully evaluate your faith and dependency on Christ. For I am quite certain that the all-suffiicient creater of the universe will not tolerate wishy-washy Christianity in that final day.


Blogger JLF said...

Man, you got me all pumped when you posted this... I thought, 'here we go, Jay's gonna post all the time now' but no...

Post more! I'm bored! :)

5:41 p.m.  
Blogger kerux said...

March 9! Nine days and no posts, Herr Wagler! That will not do! I am with JLF81 - post more! Stop watching your silly European sports and write about slippers and stuff... like knee socks.
Anyway, anybody knows that your blog title, roughly translated, means "Labour and Hope."
(Now we shall see how reliable those internet translators are!)

8:41 a.m.  
Blogger Son of Man said...

Ditto to all above. (you're on my blog roll, you've gotta perform now.)

10:59 a.m.  
Blogger Son of Man said...

I like your colours, but the font is a little small.

11:02 a.m.  

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