I have a theory that most people’s spiritual lives are like fabric–with color patterns and definite textures. If you stand back, the feel and look of the fabric is clear. Mine is like a bold, floral chintz.
Like the tiny threads woven together to form a fabric, there are certain ideas that define my faith. Together they form the texture and color of the whole thing.
Here are a few:
BEAUTY. The older I get, the more I am captured by the varied beauty of Christianity. The poetic beauty of its Scriptures, the manifold beauty of the global church, the vibrant beauty of the created world. It is a faith that includes the complex artistry of the classic hymns as well as the deep soul of black gospel. In all this beauty, I see a reflection of an artist God.
One way I measure the truth of something is its beauty. Is the idea intrinsically beautiful? Is that person’s character one of beauty and honor? Does this solution lead us to more beauty or less?
GENEROSITY. The Christian faith is based entirely on the idea that God is extravagantly generous. Like a king who throws open the banquet doors so that all might enjoy the feast, the Christian God is one of bounteous kindness. This certainty enables me to approach Him confidently. After all, He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
God’s generosity pushes me to ask of myself in every situation: Am I being generous here? I aim to err on the side of generosity every time–generosity of heart and generosity of material things. Will it pay off? Little matter. I find freedom in keeping my wheels in these ruts of generosity. No need for calculations or holding my breath, waiting for results. Just choose to be generous and you can rest.
DELIGHT. In the Christian God, I find a Father of joy and great warmth. He is the daddy laughingly wrestling on the floor with his son, the one throwing his daughter into the air with a huge smile as she squeals happily. And mysteriously, in the Trinity, He perpetually relishes Himself, like friends who greet each other with hugs, beaming smiles, and back slaps whether they have been apart two days or two years.
Despite what some imply, Christianity is a faith of hope and plain delight. Indeed, it was for the joy set before him that Christ endured the cross. (Hebrews 12:2) Now, I don’t mean joy that pretends all is light. I mean joy that acknowledges the dark, but somehow persists in hope and delight even so. There can be belly laughs even in the ICU. In my experience, the black American church, in particular, embodies true joy amidst real sorrow.
When I am evaluating a local church, Christian leader, or theological framework, I look at the delight quotient. Do joy and laughter run through it? This is my litmus test.
The fabric of a Christian faith need not be dull, colorless. It ought to be vibrant, rich, playful even. Not stern, pursed lips, but wide grins and loud guffaws. Indeed, it is this very brightness that enables us to face the darkness of this world, to walk with God through it.
© Laura Goetsch and Thinking About Such Things, 2016