Some things must be done to keep faith fresh, growing

Posted: Friday, June 25, 2004

The dictionary defines "musty" as: "adj. must-i-er, must-i-est

1. Stale or moldy in odor or taste. [Alteration of obsolete 'moisty', from moist.] 2. Some phrases that well describe the implications of its use are: a) Hackneyed or trite; dull; b) Out of date; antiquated; c) Out of use or practice; rusty."

Some time ago, my wife and I purchased a special exercise videotape. As we began to use the "Oxicise" method, it was exciting. We began to see results.

The time we spent following specific directions was not "hackneyed or trite, dull" ... well you get the picture.

Then, well, we got into an especially busy, pressured period of time. The workload increased. The time to "Oxicise" got lost in the dust of everyday stuff.

Our real problem was the last of the three descriptive definitions: c) Out of use or practice, rusty.

We had quit making the program a meaningful part of our lives. It had lost its significance through neglect.

All too often people even some professing Christians look at their faith and consider the practice of it as something that is indeed "hackneyed or trite, dull, out of date; antiquated."

With this attitude, it is not surprising that many people consider it to be musty.

The faith and life of anyone who accepts the implications and reality of what Jesus, the Christ, came to earth to do, is bound to be far from musty.

As I drive to or from the office, I frequently see people engaged in running or jogging. As they pursue their dreams slimmer thighs, less weight, Boston Marathon, Mount Marathon run in Seward, keeping up with best friend Myrtle, keeping in shape for the sheep hunt they do not see what they do as musty.

It has genuine significance. It has purpose. It will produce effects later on that will make all the sweat, aches and struggle well worthwhile.

Is it possible that the primary reason for feeling that our faith and its expression in everyday life is dull, out of date and antiquated is that we are not seriously practicing it?

I propose another definition for musty. This one carries with it a commitment to allow our faith to fulfill its promise to us. This definition applies all but the final letter in the word musty.

Must that's it! There are some things that simply must be done if we are ever to experience the true vitality and promise of our faith.

In the King James version of the Bible, this word "must" appears three times in sequence in John's Gospel, chapters 3 and 4.

The first "must" is found in John 3:7, where Jesus said: "Ye must be born again."

The "must" of beginning the life of faith is step one.

As an old Chinese proverb puts it: "A journey of 1,000 miles begins with one step." In the same way, there must be that first, initial step in the life of faith.

The second "must" is in verse 30 of the same chapter. John the Baptist said: "He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease." Growth in our faith life is an essential requirement if we desire to avoid a musty religion. Can you imagine what your relationship with your husband, wife, children, boy- or girlfriend would be like if there were no progress in that relationship?

Husbands who stop wooing their wives, after they have "won and wed" them, all too often lose them. Likewise, growth "in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ," 1 Peter 3:15, is essential to avoid the mustiness of stale religion.

The third "must" is frequently lacking in many people of faith. It was said of Jesus: "He must needs go through Samaria," John 4:4. There he found a woman to whom he would minister.

The must of service, if neglected, will result in a stagnant life, and stagnation produces all the wrong things, including mustiness. Someone has suggested that an angel of God rushes with as much joy and enthusiasm to give assistance to an ant struggling to get a crumb of bread through the grass as he does to lend help to a king on his throne.

People who live only for what they receive from their faith tend to develop a sour smell to their witness. Whereas those who share their love, care and gifts with others have a joyful life that is enviable.

Perhaps the solution for anyone who feels that their faith has become musty is to "get into it" again, with enthusiasm and renewed commitment. Now where did I leave that videotape?

Charles G. Thornton is associate pastor of Peninsula Grace Brethren Church, 44175 Kalifornsky Beach Road, Soldotna. Sunday worship and Bible classes are at 9:30 and 11 a.m.

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