What do we project? (September 2020)
Confession. I do like a bit of Taylor Swift. Don’t panic, it’s not that sort of a confession. It’s the music bit I like, honestly. In her earlier days I’d be up at 5.00am to buy a new album. Streaming is simpler.
I’ve just been tidying and have found gifts from one of my daughters when she was much younger. Colouring book, “Colour me Swiftly” and “Dress Taylor Swift” –don’t worry the latter is a sticker book for children.
My daily life had clearly demonstrated my love for her music.
So how has Taylor Swift stimulated a refection? She is certainly increasingly revealing; about her faith in her lyrics.
For example, in Soon You’ll Get Better, “Holy orange bottles, each night I pray to you. Desperate people find faith, so now I pray to Jesus too” Cornelia Street. “Sacred new beginnings, That became my religion, listen.”
Then we get to the song “False God” which to me is more sensual than spiritual -but I won’t go there.
There is a whole lot online about her background in country music and geographical Christian heritage. I have seen parts of a Netflix interview where she is sharing views in relation to faith and politics.
There is a clip where she appears to say, “Really basic human rights and its right and wrong at this point and I can’t see another commercial and see her disguising these policies behind the words Tennessee Christian values. Those aren’t Tennessee Christian values. I live in Tennessee, I am Christian, that’s not what we stand for.”
And that’s what really got me thinking. We may not be in the spotlight in the same way, but how should we show our faith; where, when and how is this appropriate?
Where is our faith rooted, deity or past, present, place? How can we be on “The right side of History” or His-story?
I’ve worked with more than one Christian institution where Christian faith was up front. Did all my actions align with how I should be serving God? Or the institution?
How can I, imperfect and all, be part of God’s work in everyday life irrespective of my position, status or labels?
I strive to rebuild my life afresh post-accident. How can I be sure that life within my reduced capabilities and new context honour the God who has given me new life in so many ways?
In this personal rebuild I am learning that we are more than our background and heritage when starting afresh with God.
We may continually challenge what we say and do in relation to our own faith and relationship with God, but should we judge others or even be concerned as to how our faith might be judged by others describing themselves as Christian today?
I don’t think it’s our reputation we should be worried about, but rather how our lives might honour or even dishonour our God.
I believe we must honour our Lord, Saviour and Master to the best of our abilities. I’m not sure that spending time judging the service of others is our business.
“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4)
For me there is a potential tension between not judging others and failing to stand up for the good and against any evil, particularly when done in His name.
We may not be under a global spotlight or have the ability to project our relationship with God to the many. TV evangelists? This must be a challenging place to find yourself. But we can act in a small way with major outcomes.
Afterall, God loves us as individuals and so we can work more quietly in our own smaller context.
With the Holy spirit within the whole family of God, that’s a massive context.
“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counsellor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)
So how do we know what we should do in the midst of so many questions about past, present and future given our limited capacity to understand our infinite God? We do need wisdom.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13)
So is the priority what we do, our deeds rather than what we say or our association with institutions?
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.” (Matthew 7:15-17)
Is it therefore just what we do that’s of value, or is it more complex?
“And David speaks likewise of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:” (Romans 4:6)
“For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” (Romans 3:28)
So it’s all about faith then.
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6)
I think “expressing itself through love” is Key. It seems to me this faith, what we do, works, and the love motive are connected.
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” (James 2:14)
In relation to Abraham, “You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” (James 2:22)
What combination should we prioritise and project to others? To put it all together simplistically, I think right now I would go with something like; “It’s all about living in relationship with the God of Love, in the grace of his Love, as demonstrated by Jesus.”
My daily life should clearly demonstrate my love, faith and trust in God.
I think I can still enjoy music too.