Friday, May 13, 2005

Taking the long view of life and faith

Paul Littleton borrows a term from one of Eugene Peterson's books to explain how the Christian life is about "A Long Obedience":

There is a huge (and I mean really, really big) temptation. . . to be programatic in ministry. By programatic, I simply mean that there is a push to jump from this program to the next so that you can continually maintain an atmosphere of excitement in the congregation. So, there's the 40 days of purpose thing, and the FAITH thing, and this, that, and the other thing. It's really pretty endless. And it would be easy to get sucked in to all of it. Especially when you feel like the congregation needs a "jump start."

The answer, Paul says, is not to hop from one exciting project to another, but to look at the bigger picture of our mission:

. . . I tend to look at ministry - and the Christian life - as a long-term project. And a part of the long-term project involves discouragement, doubt, questions that seem to have no answers and uncertainty, along with faith, hope, joy and the like. And we all know that if you stick with something long enough you'll have plenty of both. But the Christian life is a long-term project. Biblically speaking, what we are involved in even extends beyond the few years we're given here on this earth. The things we do today may have an impact well beyond our lifetimes.

Viewing the Christian life as a long-term project does indeed make it easier to accept frustrations and pain--even those extending our entire lifetime on earth. Taking the long term also gives us the opportunity for joy in knowing how the war will end, and that our Master's side will be victorious.


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