Tonight President Obama will share his take on the State of our Union here in the United States.
We pretty much know how it will happen. Everyone will squeeze in to a room far too small to hold them. The President will make his grand entrance so that those who camped out by the aisle that morning can be seen shaking his hand as if they were old friends. Everyone who matters will already have the complete text of his speech long before he gives it. Teleprompters will scroll text, attendees will respond heartily to applause cues, and pundits will endlessly analyze who stood up, who sat down, and whether or not a Supreme Court justice’s lips moved.
We’ve seen it all before. We’ve likely heard most of it before , too.
But the idea itself is not a bad one — taking time to assess the state of, well, anything. Like your faith, for example.
A State of Your Faith Address
So often we become so busy in our faith walk doing stuff that we think is for Christ that we seldom take time to really assess the state of our own faith. We don’t see any disasters, so we assume all is well. But Jesus often spoke the harshest of warnings to those who looked on the outside as if all was going well.
Over the course of the last year, I’ve taken a faith walk — I suppose my friends in Australia might call it a faith walkabout, but you get the idea. I sensed that God was stirring me to step away from something that was a very good thing, serving as the principal of a thriving Christian school. I had poured twelve years into the people and mission there. I wasn’t planning on leaving. And yet I felt God reminding me that I had gifts and strengths that He had given that I was not using. And those gifts did not belong to me. And so I surrendered to follow Him and put those strengths to greater use — wherever and whatever that might mean.
It all started about this time a year ago when I paused to evaluate the state of my faith. A year later, I am still exploring what that might mean. Along this faith journey, however, we’ve come to know a little more of what it means to walk by faith and not by sight. When I say we, I mean my wife and six children who’ve been on this journey with me. We’re going on six months now with no income — and all is well. We’ve seen God move in mighty ways and minor ways. We’ve felt him stretch our faith beyond anything we recognized and felt the pain that such growth can bring to our souls.
We have not arrived. I’m not sure I ever want to if arriving means walking by sight and not by faith. One thing is sure, this faith walk has caused us to daily assess the state of our faith and see the value of speaking the truth in love — to ourselves.
Maybe God is calling you to do the same. I don’t mean, necessarily, the path we have taken, although perhaps that is what He has in mind for you — and then some. But most likely, He may be nudging you to consider where you are in your faith, where you’re going, and how you plan to get there. And to do it all without a teleprompter. Be real with yourself and with God as an authentic follower of Christ.
Five Questions to Assess the State of Your Faith
- Are you closer to Christ now than you were a year ago? This is a question only you can answer. And yet, I have found that I often know the answer to this question about myself when I am willing to listen honestly to my own answer. Pause for a moment and consider it. Listen to your own response. “Always let your conscience be your guide” may not always be the best advice, but in this circumstance, I suspect you know the answer that the Holy Spirit is giving you.
- What are you giving up to go up? Christ’s call to be his disciple is one of taking up your cross and following Him. If you have no idea what a cross might even look like in your life, you should probably check to see if you are following Him at all. Maybe you should at least intentionally engage those who are hurting and suffering to see how you might be able to help carry their cross with them.
- Who or what gets the best of your time? Scriptures tell us that where our treasure is, our heart will be. Time is our most precious and finite treasure. How you choose to spend it tells a lot about what you value. So take the time to check your time. Be open to what it’s telling you about the state of your faith.
- Who are you helping to grow? Christ called us to make disciples who make disciples. If you’re not actively engaged in making disciples, something is wrong. Your call might be primarily in your family or even a circle of one. It might be coming alongside those younger in their faith and offering a helping hand. But if there’s nothing coming out of you, you’ll end up a bloated believer — full of yourself, but not sharing Jesus with anyone. Kind of like that blueberry girl in Willy Wonka. De-pressing.
- What does your diet look? It may be one reason you’re not helping others grow is that you have nothing to share with them. In order to have strength to give others, you yourself must be eating well. Are you making use of the means God has given to grow your faith? Leaders in church history called such things the means of grace because God uses them to deliver spiritual food to you. His word, prayer, the sacraments, fellowship of believers — are you regularly eating well, or have you cut yourself off from the divine menu?
Start a New Tradition
Here’s a thought. Why not make it an annual practice to give yourself a State of Your Faith evaluation and address each year about this time. When the President speaks each year, it will remind you — kind of like changing the batteries on your smoke detectors. (You did do that, by the way, didn’t you?)
Why not start tonight during the speech itself? You know you could read it in less than ten minutes tomorrow morning — and get the lowdown on who shook whose hand, who fell asleep during the speech, or who actually proposed that we do something crazy like take responsibility for our spending addiction. But I digress.
These questions should get you started. I know there are many others questions that might be helpful to assess the state of your faith.
Share one or two helpful questions of your own with a comment below as we help each other to walk with more abundant faith on this journey.