I’m a minister and, for the most part, the people I’m around know that. But in the church I serve we don’t wear any special clerical clothing, so on occasion I find myself in conversations with people who don’t know I’m a minister. That can create some interesting situations.
I golf occasionally and it’s not uncommon if you’re golfing alone or in a pair to join together with another group to make a foursome. Usually it’s around the third or fourth hole when the question comes up, “What do you do for a living?” When I announce I’m a minster I can see the look of horror on some people’s faces. Golfing can bring out the worst in a person and sometimes the language around the course is not what you might call “minister approved.” So, I usually hear some apologies.
Another common scenario is that after 10 or 15 minutes of conversation it’s found out that I’m a minister and there seems to be the need for some people to explain why they don’t go to church. Recently I heard this: “I grew up (fill in a denominational name), but it didn’t stick.” That phrase, “It didn’t stick,” got me to thinking. Is that what Christianity is — something that sticks or doesn’t stick? Is faith like a Post-it note we slap on our chests so people will know what we are?
I love Post-it notes. They’re really handy but, by design, they’re not anywhere close to permanent. I’ve also noticed that they’re not really effective for multiple uses. The more you remove them and re-stick them the less sticky they become until eventually they don’t stick at all. Post-it notes have a lot of valuable uses, but I’m inclined to think that one of those uses is not as a designation of our faith. Christianity has to be more than a sticky-note, but sadly that’s how it’s seen by many.
A post-it note Christianity is convenient. We can slap it on when we’re at church or with the minister and then painlessly remove it when we’re at work or behind the wheel. We can take it off when we go to the movies or surf the internet and reapply it when we sit down for our quiet time.
It can be removed when we want to use power and anger to win an argument and then reapply it when “faith” is more conducive to making a sale or building our reputation. Post-it note Christianity is quite popular, but it just doesn’t work. The more you remove and reapply it the less sticky it gets until eventually it doesn’t stick at all.
After I heard that phrase, “It didn’t stick,” it dawned on me that faith was never designed to stick. Faith was designed to be embedded. To be surgically implanted in our very beings. To become a permanent fixture of our souls. Anything less is not really faith.
Long before Post-it notes and pens and pencils, an early form of writing was chiseling into stone. It took longer, of course, but once it was engraved there was no erasing it. I think that’s more what faith is like. Something permanently engraved on our hearts. The Bible talks about God’s word being “written on our hearts.” What a beautiful image.
It’s either chiseled-in-stone or nothing. Post-it note faith is not an option. So, what is it for you? Is your faith a Post-it note faith or a chiseled-in-stone kind of faith? Only one will last.
“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3 (NIV)
Todd Catteau is the preaching minister for the Park Avenue Church of Christ in Denison. He is married with four children. More of his writing can be found at http://toddcatteau.blogspot.com.