Sunday, 9 February 2014

When our faith becomes a fad

What is a fad? The Oxford English Dictionary describes it as 'an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived; a craze'. It is a temporary trend or idea that is popular for a while, and followed enthusiastically by people for the time that it is in vogue. Very quickly however it will be replaced by another trend and that which had previously been in fashion is discarded in a manner that belies its earlier popularity. We can see this on social media, in how people dress, in what music they listen to, and in many other things. People will go with what is in, and whenever it ceases to be so they will move on to the next trend.

The question we wish to ask is this; is it possible for our faith to become a fad? Paul in his epistle to the Ephesians warned them against being 'tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine'. Of those in Athens it was said that they 'spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing'. Whilst those whom Paul wrote to in Ephesus were believers, and those in Athens to whom he preached to were not, yet all could be susceptible to the same fault of looking for and following after new and fanciful teaching.

For our faith to be little more than a fad is a danger to which young Christians are more exposed than older believers. Certain churches and meetings become popular among young people for the sole reason that they see other young people attending them and so they likewise are drawn to that church. What the church teaches or believes is often of little importance and when others decide to go elsewhere they again follow suit. C.H. Spurgeon described such a habit of church hopping as 'a wretched business' and that they were 'changing their views as often as the moon'. If our choice of meetings to attend is dictated by what is popular with our friends, then it is a sure sign that our faith is little more than a fad, that we have no conviction about what is true, but that we will follow wherever the crowd goes.

The same is often true when it comes to which preachers people listen to; popularity will often be a greater determiner than orthodoxy. Little thought is given to what they actually believe and how it stands up when compared to scripture, so long as our friends are following them, then so will we. New churches and the latest preacher to come to prominence will always draw people to them, simply because they are new. However the only important consideration as to where we should go, who we should listen to and what we should believe is the truth of the word of God. We must not be driven by the preferences of others, for those preferences often change, but we must ask 'what saith the scripture'.

When our faith has become so evidently a fad, changing churches and views so easily, a very important question is raised; what do we actually believe? If we change our opinion on secondary issues at the drop of a hat, the question must be asked, how quickly will we also change our position on the fundamentals of the faith? If a teacher who denies the doctrine of the trinity or the deity of Christ becomes popular among believers and amongst our friends will we follow him also? Do we really know what we believe and why we believe it? Our faith is to be based solely upon the word of God, which is unchanging and abideth forever. Therefore our beliefs should not change in accordance with what is popular within the church at large. Whilst everything in the world around us changes, our faith should be constant, like the apostle Paul who could say that he had finished the course and kept the faith.

'Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus' (2nd Timothy 1:13) 

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