Thursday, March 12, 2009

A rhetorical faith?

Rhetoric. What is it? According to Webster, it is the art of persuasive or effective speaking or writing. Down here in the South, we'd call this "Talkin' the talk." Simply put rhetoric is just words, spoken or written.

This word is on my mind and heart today as I sit here on the campus of ULM pondering our Bible-belt, Americanized version of Christianity. What does rhetoric have to do with some people's version of Christianity?" I'm so glad you asked..

You see, rhetoric is the epitome of the faith most of us have come to have, but not the Faith Jesus intended for us to live out. This rhetorical faith is more social than spiritual. It's more learned than lived. It's more in the head than in the heart. It's one we talk about on Sunday, but forget about on Monday. Can I hear an amen?

Don't believe me? Check out any church around (including ours) and you'll find people who know all the right information and can explain Jesus and salvation like no one else, yet their life seems completely void of the Jesus of whom they speak. They have the answers and "know their stuff," but the clever explanations and head-knowledge aren't enough to bring the real life and joy Jesus promised. Maybe you know someone like this...maybe you are someone like this.

There's this huge disconnect from the belief in Christ that's it our mind and the one that's shown to others by the way we live our life. Consider this story about the great french tight-rope walker, Charles Bondin.

Blondin's greatest fame came in June of 1859 when he attempted to
become the first person to cross a tightrope stretched over a quarter
of a mile across the mighty Niagara Falls.

He walked across 160
feet above falls several times, each time with a different daring feat
- once in a sack, on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark, and once he
even carried a stove and cooked an omelet!

Large crowds gathered and a buzz of excitement ran along both sides of
the river bank. The crowd “Oooohed!” and “Aaaaahed!” as Blondin
carefully walked across one dangerous step after another --even blindfolded
and pushing a wheelbarrow.

Once, upon reaching the other side, the
crowd's applause was louder than the roar of the falls! Blondin
suddenly stopped and addressed his audience: "Do you believe I can
carry a person across in this wheelbarrow?"The crowd enthusiastically
outed, "Yes, yes, yes. You are the greatest tightrope walker in the
world. You can do anything!"

"Okay," said Blondin, "Can I have a volunteer to get in the wheelbarrow....."

The Blondin story goes that no one did!

Our "hoorah" for Christ is just noise if we're not willing to get in the wheelbarrow. All of our preaching, teaching, and singing is mere rhetoric if we're don't make choices that follow it. Faith is not agreeing with it in your mind. It's believing in it in your heart. Consider this verse,

"...if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved..." (Romans 10:9)

Confessing isn't enough. Just talking about it doesn't do the job. You must believe it in your heart.

What does this "believing in your hedepressed and worried.jpgart" look like? In the last 24 hours, I have dealt with financial crises, 2 separate situations of divorce, those with health issues, and a young college student dealing with the loss of his dad and the pressures of continuing education. What do you think was the base ingredient for the remedy in each of those situations? It all boils down our trust in God. Letting God have complete control of our lives, rather than just acknowledging him with our words.

Jesus came to bring us life. To experience the life that Jesus wants us to live we must let go of the burden, challenge, or problem and grab on to hope, faith, and love. When we do this, regardless of the outcome, genuine faith allow us to experience victory in any situation.

That's not a rhetorical faith...that a real faith. Believe it. Live it.

On the Journey Together,

Justin Winstead

1 comment:

  1. did you write this about me?? HA!! i'm kidding, but you did a great job! we all should practice our faith a little more... a lot more!