When stepping out into the unknown, going for God’s will on faith and not a whole lot else, there is a tremendous amount of power invested in the hands of other Christians. Though we all must stand before God and give an account for the dips and dives in life and our subsequent reactions, the Christian community around us can have a significant impact on whether we sink or swim. While a believer is struggling against the current, Christians the vicinity can either toss foam noodles or bricks.
After being at a Christian wedding this past weekend, I encountered Christians who either tossed bricks or noodles to me. Some heard about our decisions thus far in our lives and were genuinely worried for us. Though possibly meaning well, there was a spirit of judgment or condemnation that just emmanated from them. Whether they said a lot or a little, I was deflated quite a bit afterwards, struggling to keep myself afloat with the new brick I had. Of course the response of faith should be to just drop the brick and let and it fall to the bottom, but it’s immensely hard to just forget.
I know that it’s challenging to appreciate or support someone who’s really stepping out in faith. To some it may seem irresponsible or naive. To some it’s a bit extreme, putting God to the test or creating a crisis that somehow forces the hand of God. Perhaps some are threatened to see somone take risks in areas where they are comfortable. Let’s face it, we all compare ourselves to one another. Seeing somone else take bigger risks than ourselves will bring up uncomfortable questions. “Should I take the same risks? Am I in God’s will right now, even if it’s comfortable?” The answers may be yes or no depending on the situation or place in life. Regardless of the reason, it can be just plain hard to offer up encouragement rather than doubt to those who are taking a risk for God. I know that my most common area of failure is that I feel threatened by those who risk and manufacture large quantities of guilt that often keep me from being of use or encouragement to those living on the edge.
Having seen so many Christians around me take bigger risks than I, I wonder how I’ve done in the area of encouragement. For myself, it is immensely refreshing to have another Christian step alongside and say, “You’re doing this right.” These simple words of affirmation go such a long way. My focus is so inward that I forget how much power I hold. My attempt to guard my way of life could lead to the destruction of another Christian’s faith.
My steps of faith certainly pale in comparison to the leaps made by many others. That’s OK. I need to be comfortable with wherever I’m at if I want to be of any use to God or anyone else for that matter. The truth is that we all need noodles, the encouragement that only the church can provide that continually points us to the love of the Father, salvation of the Son, and intervention of the Spirit.