A Week Without Faith

I just got back from vacation. I spent a week almost entirely free of faith, and I loved it.

That’s not to say I took a week off from God. We were in pretty close touch all week.

Nor am I saying I took a week off from church. I attended services with our family at a denomination different from our own in a different part of the country. I spoke quite a bit with others during the week about church and spiritual matters.

The difference is that I felt absolutely no urge to try to do anything. In fact, I did almost nothing all week but lie around in a swimming pool or in air conditioning. I seldom interacted with anyone but close family. I avoided political discussions and any controversial topic. I basically checked into a comfort zone and locked the door.

This is what a life without faith is all about. It requires no faith to live in a comfort zone. Hebrews 11 defines faith as the assurance of things hoped for. Last week there was nothing I was hoping for. I was pretty much resigned to the world as it was, not as it could be.

It was wonderful. It has been a challenging year, and I really needed the break, needed a recharge. It was nice to be relaxed and at peace.

But while it was refreshing to visit the comfort zone for a week, my time there showed why a comfort zone is a good place to visit but a dangerous place to live. What happens when we live in a place where faith means nothing? We become resigned to the world as it is, to injustice, to pain and despair. We cannot even begin to imagine the world as it could be, the world as God intends.

The comfort zone eliminates the need not only for conviction but for courage or imagination, some of the most wonderful gifts of the Spirit. I could do without those for a week as I recharged, but I can’t imagine a life without those things. As much as I love being with family, I can’t imagine living the rest of my life as I lived it last week, without conviction, courage, or imagination.

See where this is going, fellow preacher? Stepping into a pulpit is an act of faith. By definition, that makes it an act of conviction, of courage, and of imagination. We cannot try to preach without those traits; we cannot get into a comfortable groove and proclaim the faith because a comfort zone is a place where faith is not needed.

Our job as proclaimers of the word is not to resign ourselves to the world as it is and wallow in it. The task given to us by our Lord is to imagine life as it could be, as it will be in the reign or God. We then attempt boldly to lay out that vision according to the Word and inspire others to act upon that vision as we ourselves are moved to act. That is faith in action.

My wish is that all preachers can periodically take a visit to the faithless land of the comfort zone to recharge, and then return to the pulpit overflowing with the conviction, courage, and imagination that active faith requires.