am I devout?

I’m a dedicated disciple; I’m a committed Christian
But I don’t feel devout.
I don’t know religious history enough to be devout
I have always resisted traditions as the enemy
Change has been my banner.
Modernity has been my tutor.
Progressiveness has been my catchword.
Forward thinking.
Relevance has been my ambition.
User-friendly faith.

The older I get the more I care about the old.
The more I understand the current, the more I want to engage the ancient.
I don’t value the newest, freshest, hottest or latest as much as I used to.
I crave roots more than fruits.
I want to know where I came from more than where I’m going.
I’m drawn to the mystery of the past
More than the novelty of the present.

I’m not devout.
I don’t know the legacy of our Lord.
I haven’t captured his culture.
I’ve only extrapolated from him what I’ve appreciated about him.
I leave behind his way of life.
I tweak his words, values, and desires.
I reconfigure his lifestyle to fit mine.
How convenient.

I don’t meditate. I don’t have the time.
I don’t study. I don’t have the energy.
I don’t pray. I don’t have the attention.
Oh, I do these…but with cursory conviction…
I’m not by any means devout.

It seems to me that devout people don’t have to work
So hard to convert people.
They aren’t going door to door,
They aren’t putting ads in the newspaper,
They aren’t trying to keep up with the culture,
They aren’t killing themselves to convince
People that their faith is valid.
Their lives testify to that reality…words aren’t needed.

Only weak religions need many words.
Only marginal believers need to argue for legitimacy.
Devout faiths speak for themselves.
Initially, they are shunned and called narrow.
Ultimately, they are trusted and called deep.

The concern I have is the shallow ground on which I stand.
It’s as deep as the last book I read
The last movie I watched
The last conversation I had
The last sermon I heard.
The depth of my devotion is as thick as my current emotion.
Emotion is a great fuel and terrible engine.
What drives my life?

I love current events, modern ideas, and cultural trends
I must be a student of these shifting movements.
I must know the world I live in and the way it interprets life.
I must engage the customs of this civilization
And package my answers in terminology that can be understood.

However, I don’t think being understood is the mark of a successful life.
The greatest agents of change in our history
Lived lives that were largely misunderstood.
Allow me some space to make some touchy statements…
I would rather be misunderstood and transfer mystery
Than to be understood and underestimated.

Devout people may not be understood,
But they are not underestimated.
You may not comprehend the customs
But you respect the reverence.
You may not understand the traditions
But you esteem highly the conviction.
This is the mark of the devout.

Devout people are just fine with not fitting in.
They aren’t killing themselves to blend into the scenery.
They aren’t living for your attention or mine.
They are content with their beliefs.
Did you hear that? They are content with what they believe.

How many Christians do you know that are content with their faith?
Not many.
It’s baked with additives and supplemental spices to make it taste better.
Christianity is a so temperamental…
In one place a person is turned on to God
Only to change momentarily with a shift of location.
It’s like we have to be somewhere to be something.
Devout people don’t function with this flippancy.
They are at all times deeply conscious of their beliefs.
Environments don’t affect temperaments,
Conversations don’t change convictions.

I want to be quiet without people questioning my emotional stability.
I want to adhere to traditions that don’t make sense to our culture.
I want to engage my faith with a deeper sense of ancient mystery.
I want the history of my faith to be handled with reverence.
I’m tired of modern gimmicks and mimics trying to pass for the real thing.
I’m leery of the cutting edge.
I’m bored of the newest thing.
Who cares what’s next if we don’t know what’s needed?


Emily said…
Nice piece.....

I really wish you would stop preaching at me every Sunday, I am going to stop coming to the "feel good" church if you make me feel so bad every week..... No just kidding, my family is being touched and moved.

Check out
to see your lovely photo. WE REALLY DO LOVE YOU GUYS!

Kate McDonald said…
hey, i have a girlfriend from seattle who is moving to your if someone named jennifer comes to church and introduces herself... that's who she is!

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