Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Faith Orchestra

A friend shared a thought on Facebook:

In the time it takes to read this sentence dozens of children have died from starvation. Does Tebow or anyone else really believe that God picks sides in a football game?

My question back, do you really think Tebow is asking God for a win? And yet the above question merits something deeper…the explanation of an orchestra.

A musical orchestra is made up of many different instruments. Each of those instruments provides a unique sound that in the end make up a musical feast for the ears and heart. The music has a deeper impact than just the sounds that it makes. Melodies and symphonies stir the heart and soul.

It’s no different with people. Each of us is made to be a different instrument. Some of us are gifted with mechanical means, some of us with philosophical mentalities, and others with physical abilities. Yet each of us plays a part within society. And that part makes a difference.

Consider for a moment the impact that an athlete has on that sport. If they are a positive influence, they impact other teammates, coaches and fans. They inspire others to try their best and the team benefits through this positive influence. They pay it forward with their attitude.

Not long ago I heard a teen grumble that a fellow soccer teammate was complaining about other guys on his team. The complainer didn’t like the way others were playing, they were making mistakes, or they just weren’t thinking. As he began to voice this whining behavior out loud, the other teammates were distracted and brought down by such thoughts. Dissension and arguments permeated the team. The negative impact this one person had on his team is quite obvious. Perhaps his “instrument” was off key?

It’s no different with Denver Broncos’ quarterback, Tim Tebow. This young man’s positive attitude and his believe in hope is permeating the rest of his teammates. The team believes they can win. Now their hope has impacted others. In fact, it is having an effect on fans and people around the country.

Whatever your opinion, it is the reality of our society that sports celebrities have an impact and make news.

With that impact, however comes responsibility. I believe that Tebow is striving to take that responsibility seriously. He is taking the time to recognize his abilities don’t come from himself, but from his Maker.

Those that would say he is asking God for a “win” for the team would be na├»ve. I believe he is simply trying to give gratitude for his abilities to the One who gave him those abilities. He is also striving to show others that he is serving God with the “instrument” that God gave him.

What impact does that have on others? What about those starving children that are dying? Somewhere out there, there is a soul who has been gifted with the intellectual capacity to understand how to solve the starvation that exists in the world. If that person is inspired to hope they can make a difference, then they will strive to do so. If by watching a sports professional strive to make a difference they are inspired to make a difference with their “instrument,” then Tebow has had an effect on the starving children.

However, there are other avenues he is impacting as well. A plethora of Christian foundations currently exist to feed the poor and hungry, many of them here in our country as well as abroad. These groups build structures to house the poor, and water systems to provide clean water for communities. They provide food when possible and work tirelessly to improve living conditions so that children do not have to starve to death.

If those charities are brought to light because a Christian bows down and shows gratitude to His God, then he is affecting starving children. If by making others aware of his beliefs, he in fact brings attention to the Christian charities that help starving children then I postulate he is doing more to feed the starving children than the average person who complains about the poor but does nothing to help.

This realization brings another truth to life. Whether we want to believe it or not, we are examples to others. How we behave is seen by our children, our friends and even that stranger in the checkout line at the store. If we treat others with contempt, we are encouraging others to do the same. If we treat others with love, then we are encouraging that behavior as well. We supply hope AND we are simply paying it forward.

We are all part of a bigger orchestra. Our “instruments” provide melodies, harmonies, and rhythm in the symphony of life. We inspire others with our actions. Tim Tebow’s job right now is to play football to the best of his abilities. If by his actions he brings to light the possibility that there is Hope and that Hope can be attained by others, then he is playing his part in this symphony we call life.

How boring would it be to listen to an orchestra of guitars playing the same notes to the same songs with no harmony or extra melodies to enhance the experience?

Ugh! I choose to believe that without all the different people in our world that provide all the different aspects of life, I would be bored to death. Literally. So I listen to the orchestra of life with love and hope and I try and keep my “instrument” in tune to play along.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Why Go To Church?

I thank my friend, Lois, for making me stop and think about this question.

In order to answer this question with the blog’s intent of including science with faith, I will delve into the sociological/scientific realm first, then my own inclinations.

Human beings are social creatures just as many animals are social creatures. The idea of a herd or tribe resonates deeply within us—to our DNA. When we come together as a group, we are protected as individuals within that group. The group benefits from the individual and the individual benefits from the group.

That same idea resonates with the idea of attending church.

Many people often say they can meet God in the mountains when they hike, so why do they need to go to a building to pray? There is no doubt that individual prayer and meditation are a part of developing a relationship with God. (The key is that you WANT a relationship with God and that’s a whole ‘nother topic) However, as social beings, we cannot completely fulfill that desire without community.

Take for example that friend you call when you are feeling down. You are looking for validation, for healing, and for connection.

Everyone desires to be healed in spirit.

That is the first level of community. But once we reach that healing--as social beings--we continue to grow. We begin to understand gratitude; gratitude for that friend who helped us, for the environment around us, for things outside of us.

This is where church is beneficial as well. Church offers an opportunity to go beyond ourselves, and offer that gratefulness with the voices of others.

In my past posts, I investigated the concept of conversing with nature, in particular water. Remember the rice experiment? What happened to the rice that was left alone? It deteriorated more than the rice that was told derided things. That same concept applies to human beings as well.

The above example makes the social implications of attending church are even more convincing. Look at the Occupy movement. Would they be as strong if they went individually or do they hold more power when their voices come together as one body with one purpose? (What difference is there in coming together to believe in Christ versus coming together to believe in a political issue?) This is the next level of community.

These arguments are based on the study of social theory. That gives you a peek into the science end of attending church.

But as social beings, there is so much more to us, isn’t there? So here are my reasons for attending church, what I get out of it, and why it is important to me.

1. I desire spiritual healing. I recognize that I cannot do this alone and that I need God.

2. I never tire of hearing how much God loves me through His Word.

3. I desire to show my gratitude for all the blessings I’ve received; from that Starbucks I sip, to my warm shoes, I am grateful for the material items God has given me. (Yes, I may have earned them by monetary resources, but without my brain to provide the opportunity to have the job to earn them, I’d be without!)

4. I love to join my voice with others in proclaiming that gratitude. (For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matt 18:20 KJV)

5. I desire to be a part of something that is completely outside of me. Who doesn’t tire of always thinking of themselves? There is something innately inside of us that wants to do something for someone else and be a part of something bigger than them as individuals.

6. I desire to be in relationship with God and know that I am NOT at church to be entertained. If I need to be entertained than I should go to a movie!

7. I enjoy the personal challenging ideas that come from attending church.

8. I desire to give myself over to God and trust that He knows what’s better for me than I know myself.

9. I desire to give back to God out of the love I have received from Him. This requires sacrifice.

Sacrifice is defined as a surrender of something of value as a means of gaining something more desirable. This is how I define sacrifice with respect to attending church:

Many of my friends are so excited this time of year awaiting the arrival of their children home for the holidays. They long for their presence. It is no different with our God. He is our Father, He created us, and He desires to be with us. It is a sacrifice to pick myself up physically and go to church. It requires effort. But I do it just as I go home for Christmas—out of respect. Just as mother rejoices with the return of her children, so does the Lord rejoice when I return home to Him.

There is no doubt that we are taught that “God is everywhere,” but how often do we REALLY meet Him in that everywhere? Instead we are distracted by our everyday lives, the duties within those lives and the constant interruptions of media, computers, music and television. Church offers an opportunity to purposely remove ourselves from those distractions and give our attention to the Father that desires us. Again, it requires sacrifice.

The following quote has been attributed to everyone from Mark Twain to Woody Allen, that doesn't detract from its meaning.

“Half of life is just showing up.”

Why not apply that to church as well?