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No Regrets in Christ

August 3, 2010

I want to share with you an excerpt of life from my new friend Harvey Armour who I recently gathered with for lunch; and then comment on some underlying thoughts I have about his ‘condition.’   I think there are hundreds of thousands of men just like Harvey in the church, who don’t buy into the role of spirituality proposed by popular evangelicalism and who long for more, but lack models of what that might look like.

To start us off I’ll let Harvey do the talking …

“When I was in my mid-30s … my wife expressed to me that she would really like me to join her in seeking to take our life as Christians to a higher level.  I told her that I was content to be ‘straddling the fence’ as a Christian, and I didn’t have any desire to change.  I was willing to do most of the things that Christians were expected to do and to refrain from doing most of the things that Christians were not supposed to do, but I was not interested in going any further.

Many years passed subsequently.  During this period, my spiritual life ebbed and flowed, but didn’t show much net growth.  Then, following my retirement, I had ample time to undertake an extensive study to find answers to a number of questions I had that pertained to difficult biblical matters, some of which had troubled me for many years.”

Why is that mid-career men have such a struggle to integrate work and faith?  I would propose to you it is this (if you have additional thoughts please comment):  With regard to applying faith and repentance in day-to-day life, there seem to be very few models of men who are actually doing so in their day to day lives, and there is apparently very little talk about this subject.  Christian maturity has come to be defined primarily by volunteerism in the institutional church, highlighted by spiritualized examples of home and marital life.

I would commend men (and paid working women, especially now that there are more of them) to consider how faith integrates into their daily lives.  How do you treat customers, coworkers/peers, superiors?  What is the role of honesty and Biblical values in sales, communications, contracts and even research and development?  If Christianity cannot bring saltiness and light to these places, it has little or no value and is at best a cultural Christianity in need of deep reform.

Part of the problem is that integration is hard work.

It is easier to live a dichotomized life where spirituality can be segregated to the weekend rather than weekday.   Most workers are having difficulties trying to make ends meet, let alone figure out if they are doing the ‘right’ thing.  It is much easier to let the legal department at work handle the ethics of the situation and do what you are told.

In my friend Harvey’s circumstance, I’m not sure that any of these were factors in those early years, but with home life, productivity and financial pressures at every turn, I’m sure he is not alone in having to deal with the pressures of those years. What I would commend to Harvey (and to many of you who are subscribers to trinitypartners) is this: God is deeply pleased with your work and your struggle, no matter what or where it is. Struggle and risk (not perfection) are God’s desires for us.  Our progress and delight to know that God is wooing us should fuel our delight in God, as it has for Harvey.   God will love us, despite our sin.  He, in His incarnate form as Jesus Christ, came to conquer sin and woo us to Himself.

Any displeasure that God might have ever had or might have in Harvey fell away at Harvey’s conversion; it has been nailed to the cross with the sins of the world – past, present and future. When God looks upon you (and Harvey), He sees what I see now as well, men and women who have always been growing in Christ, struggling to be faithful in all the circumstances of life. I’m grateful for the ways that Harvey has loved me and reached out to me in love and service in the short time I’ve known him. I know that God sees more than I see and rejoices.

In closing, I want to leave you with some thoughts by Augustine, who also had remorse over his early years and delighted in his position in Christ in his latter ones. I have put these thoughts in poetic form, based on Augustine’s famous (but fairly cryptic) ‘confessions‘.

LATE HAVE I LOVED YOU (AUGUSTINE)

Too late have I loved you,

Beauty so ancient,

Beauty so new.

Too late have I loved you,

You were within me

but I sought You outside myself.

In my weakness,

I ran after the beauty

of the things You have made.

You were with me,

but I was not with You.

Created things kept me from You,

things which have no meaning,

unless they exist in You!

You have called,

summoning me aloud,

to pierce my deafness.

You have displayed Your glory,

and have shined out brightly,

to dispel my blindness.

You have released your fragrance,

and I have breathed it in,

in longing for You.

I have tasted You,

and I hunger,

to thirst for You again.

You have touched me,

and I have awakened,

I now desire Your peace.

For more on the struggles of Life and Career, see Moment of Truth 8 on Page 80 of Professionals: Men and Women Partnering with the Trinity in Everyday Life.  I’d also encourage you to visit Harvey’s website, www.armoursanswers.com to see some of his deep passion for apologetics, stewardship and finances in the life of the church, home and society.  Thanks for all the ways you’ve blessed me, Harvey. I’m grateful for the friendship.

Blessings

-Rob

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