So much of what Christians repeat is senseless tripe, nothing more than meaningless slogans that we have passed down for generations. It is not that so much of what we repeat is false, but that it is so shallow. That is what slogans do. They tend to trivialize the impact of truth.
“God loves you, brother,” Or “Who am I to judge.” Or “Jesus is the reason for the season.”
They all sound good, probably because we have heard others mindlessly regurgitate the phrases. But they are vacuous and void of a deeper understanding. In many instances we have allowed the secular world to define much of what we do in Christianity. This shoaly understanding of things we repeat, in most cases, trivializes a very profound truth.
“Keep the faith, brother,” A friend chattered at me as we parted the other day. The little imp in my head could not leave that statement alone.
Keep the faith, I muttered under my breath to no one in particular. Keep the faith…hmmm. Now there is a misunderstood statement if there ever was one.
When someone encourages you to “keep the faith” most of us receive the exhortation as reinforcement to not grow weary in the everyday affairs of life. “Keep the faith” to most of us is nothing more than a spiritual way of saying “hang in there, bro.”
“Keep the faith. Don’t lose heart! Don’t let the world beat you down. Hang onto your faith!” Those are all versions of the same exhortation. In 1988 Jesse Jackson spewed a version in his run for President…“Keep hope alive.”
Yeah, that’s the ticket. Keep the faith…keep hope alive…both are ways of encouraging a friend to not lose faith.
But faith in what? Hope in what? I think that by trivializing the phrase we have stripped it of its deeper and more profound meaning.
I was surprised to find that the actual encouragement to “keep the faith” appears nowhere in the Holy Writ. The closest one comes to it is Paul’s noting in 2 Timothy 4:7 that “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” Although Paul had certainly lived a life requiring that he hold on to HIS faith, it is not HIS faith that he is referring to. Paul says I have kept THE faith. It was his “KEEPING of THE faith that turned the world upside down.
Paul certainly remained full of personal faith but it was his job of PROTECTING the faith that was so significant. Paul’s strong personal belief system enabled him to protect and preserve THE Faith handed down from his Father.
“Keep the faith, brother” is so much deeper than we have ever considered. Like so much in modern Christianity our focus on faith has become personal rather than universal.
It is like a beekeeper or a gatekeeper. His job is to protect and defend the hive which he has been assigned “to keep”. Beekeepers don’t merely keep a strong personal faith in the bees but assume the job of assuring that the honey remains pure and undefiled and is capable of nourishing those who eat it.
“Keep the bees, brother.” Do you get what Paul was telling us as he writes from prison? His “keeping” the faith brought him into direct conflict with this worldly system.
At least 20 years later, although we are unsure of the date it was written, the Book of Jude repeats Paul’s charge that we “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.” Jude warns us that:
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
“Keep the faith.” So how are we doing Christians? Are we really KEEPING the faith or are we permitting “filthy dreamers” to poison the hive?
As apostasy abounds in the so-called “church”, the death of the Son of God has become minimized and the true meaning of Emanuel has been trumped by shopping malls and reindeer. Instead of “keeping the faith” in the mind of our little honey bees, we have all been complicit in the plundering of the hive by those who are “sensual having not the Spirit.”
Homosexual marriage. Abortion. Shacking up. Materialism. Public schools. Entertainment industry. Tyrannical government. Emergent church. Islamic indoctrination. Sunday morning soccer. Easter Bunny. Santa Claus. Star Wars.
These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Historians will write about this time in the later part of the 20th Century, when Christian men failed to heed the call and allowed the Foundation of all Truth to be ransacked by the very leaders entrusted to guard the hive.
Keep the faith brothers…so how do you think we are doing?