Joe asked me earlier on this week if I knew what was wrong with Jonathan Edwards. He was stepping down from his commitment to “Songs of Praise.” He didn’t know whether it was a problem with the “Songs of Praise” set-up or whether it was a faith issue.
Years ago, Songs of praise did a Jonathan Edwards special. He was such a big name – an Olympic hero – and a Christian too. He talked about his family, his achievements and how God had been with him.
I knew nothing, but made it my business to find out. It is a faith issue. He is not convinced anymore that God exists!
How does that happen to a person – shining brightly one moment and snuffed out the next? Except that it never happens that way at all – the light dims gradually over time, until there is no light. You don’t go to bed one night believing in the reality of God and wake up next day not believing. It is a process. There is a beginning, a middle and an end.
I think the beginning it is about who you perhaps spend your time with, and who you don’t, or about what you spend your time doing and what you neglect to do. The world of work, the people that you meet every day in the work place, can erode away at your faith, ever so slowly. In the Song of Songs it mentions the little foxes that eat away at the vines. The times when I feel most fragile are times when I have started to listen to the cynicism around me, and poke holes in the things I know to be true! What stops me from progressing too far down that road is making sure that I have fellowship with people who will build me up and repair the damage done.
Other times when I feel fragile it has been down to being too busy and not spending enough time with God. I know that I can get so immersed in writing that all else gets put to one side. I don’t soak in God’s presence because I see a deadline looming over the horizon. I do my mathematics and don’t think I have enough time to do what I need to and have the quiet times with God.
I think that for Jonathan it must have been an added pressure to be a Christian hero to many. Why do we need to do that people – put them up on a pedestal like that? We all need to be heroes of the faith in what ever walk in life we find ourselves, so that people like Jonathan Edwards don’t have to shoulder all the responsibility.
I taught for a while in a private school in Cyprus. Some of the pupils were boarders, and I lived in the same building. The school was a Christian school and many of the boarders were not Christians. It would appear to be an ideal situation – a real Christian living among them. A living advertisement as it were before their eyes! It didn’t work out that way. I was immature in the faith, and not really sure of what I believed.
I can remember saying, “Don’t look at me. Read the New Testament and see how Jesus lived his life!”
How sad! It was so the opposite of what God wants to say, “Look at her! Then you will see me.”
We seem to be so busy pointing to someone else and saying “Follow him – he’s got it right.” That we don’t say, like Paul confidently said, “Imitate me, because I am imitating the Father.”