I was listening to a sermon podcast the other night at the gym (I always work out to sermons, they fire me up and I feel doubly productive), and the pastor suddenly said, “You don’t need me. You don’t need a preacher to tell you what the Bible says. Thank God for scholars and seminaries, but there’s no secret insider information. It’s all here. You can open up this book and have a faith for yourself.”
I wanted to yell “amen” in the gym. I’m not that kind of guy, to yell amen even at church, and this wasn’t a new thought I hadn’t heard before — but I thought of how alarmingly dependent we’ve become on forming our faith and philosophy from others. We wait for Sundays or the right celebrities or our circle of like-minded bloggers to affirm a kind of pre-established dogma, but don’t often investigate their words down to the bottom. And they’re just people, too, learning like me and you.
I’m not always silent before God to really discern why I believe a certain idea. I run to blogs and books and podcasts too quickly. Sometimes I try to transplant what works for someone else on to myself, and it doesn’t work, and I beat myself up for failing. Other times I’ll blame a church or pastor or my community because I trusted them to grow me better, when it was really up to me to learn how to fish. I pride myself on being a “thinker,” but too many times I’ve subconsciously let others do the thinking for me. I trick myself into thinking that having a “click” moment in a sermon is the same thing as real passion and action. I’m very hasty to wonder what someone else thinks about the most recent headlines.
Yes, thank God for scholars and smart people and informed blogs. But in the end, these can only be supplements to the road we must travel ourselves, and we cannot sustain the entire weight of our faith and life and philosophy on other minds who have a road of their own.
You can have a faith for yourself. You don’t need me or an articulate witty blogger or someone who has the secret sauce to a better-life-in-seven-easy-steps. There are no shortcuts. There aren’t enough words out there to get you where you need to go. Most of the journey is up to you, and me, and each of us in community doing our part.
Don’t trust me. There’s only One you can truly trust, and He will light the way as we trust Him together.