2 Cor 13:5 exhorts, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to meet the test!”, and Rom 12:3 advises, “For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.”
Whenever I experienced moments of crisis I knew who to call on for prayers and words of encouragement. I notice with some of those who call upon me for the same the in-between of spiritual silence. Daily encouragement becomes that thorn on the side and speaks to the individual’s lukewarm faith, the borrowing of God during certain times. I feel sorry for those who had to deal with me back when I was lukewarm – did they feel used before they got used to it?
Raised in a Christian household meant regardless of subsequent life choices (many serious and terrible ones if I may add), God’s promise to my parents found in Prov 22:6, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it,” was fulfilled. A childhood habit of mentally blessing food and drink before placing it in my mouth, thanking God for every safe journey, ritualistic morning and evening prayers have remained with me to this day – even while I rebelled and turned away from my faith as a young adult.
In this respect and to tie in with the previous observation, I discerned an individual who’d chastise a group of friends for not praying out loud for the meal. I noticed that s/he’d publicly pray during trying times, and in the presence of certain individuals deemed godly. In private, while daily encouraging this person to strengthen his/her prayer life, I’d be informed of his/her preference for non-judgmental Christians who stick around and don’t say a word. I’d obviously ignore this but after several years of observing the lack of urgency with solidifying lukewarm faith, I’ve granted his/her wish and pray on the sidelines.
This is not uncommon. Before my faith was fastened in Christ, I too selectively chose what I wanted to hear from our Lord, and when. I remember fervently reading the Psalms every break at my temporary placement job. I was terrified of being laid off, what with school fees, rent and other bills to pay. I also remember reciting the Rosary during bus rides into a different job because I now had a window of time. Did these practices remain with me? I was laid off and laid off the Psalms, and once I got a car, well, the Rosary idea was shelved until further notice.
Prayer discipline is now embedded in me because I must live by faith.
The two Bible verses above speak to individual faith. Do you test your faith, and are you real with yourself about it? I have more respect for those who outwardly oppose God than the ones who express shock at atheism while practicing a selective prayer life like the examples demonstrated above.
These real life scenarios remind me to check the authenticity and author of my faith lest I fall into the lukewarm and unbeliever categories. This isn’t something I can afford to keep to the sidelines until calamity strikes or blessings pour – it must be a way of life. Where do you stand?