I often tell people that Great Lakes Christian College is a faith-based organization. We exist because of God’s faith in us and our faith in God. It’s all about faith. But, sometimes we get confused on the issue. Things get complicated. Problems mount. Crises loom. Failure or success seems to hang in the balance. Livelihoods depend on our response. Where do God’s provision and our responsibility meet? Where do His power and our efforts intersect? Where do our faith and His faithfulness coincide? I’ve been around long enough to see God at work in so many situations. His actions seemed almost independent of anything we did. But, other times it seemed like He was leaving us to work out the problems and experience His presence as if He were a “silent partner.”
What happens in my world, the world of the Christian non-profit, is that people can become somewhat leery when it comes to being truly a faith-based organization. The tendency is to try avoid those times when a dependence on God is all you’ve got going for you. What you want is a healthy bottom line and rather robust endowments. Now, those things aren’t bad, but it does seem to move one further from the necessity of looking to God for the answers. It also tends to eliminate the need to step out on faith. Decisions are made on the basis of affordability and being fiscally responsible. Our future depends on it – the reasoning goes.
I don’t think we are much different than many other colleges or churches. The goal is to become so financially secure that there is no sense of risk or danger when decisions have to be made or steps have to be taken. But, at that point is it still true to think of oneself as a faith-based organization? According to the writer of Hebrews, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” The ancients were sure of God’s promise and certain that He would provide.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t “count the cost”. I think it’s more a matter of emphasis. What do we emphasize more – faith or sight?
Edwin Friedman, the author of the excellent book, “A Failure of Nerve”, writes about our tendency today to avoid all risk and opt for safety. We are almost obsessed with “anything related to safety: product safety, traffic safety, bicycle safety, motorboat safety, jet-ski safety, workplace safety, nutritional safety, nuclear power safety, toxic waste safety, and so and so on. This focus on safety has become so omnipresent in our chronically anxious civilization that there is real danger we will come to believe that safety is the most important value in life. It is certainly important as a modifier of other initiatives, but if a society is to evolve, or if leaders are to arise, then safety can never be allowed to become more important than adventure. We are on our way to becoming a nation of ‘skimmers’ living off the risks of previous generations and constantly taking from the top without adding significantly to its essence. Everything we enjoy as part of our advanced civilization, including the discovery, exploration, and development of our country, came about because previous generations made adventure more important than safety.”
I believe we are called to live out the adventure of faith. Not foolishly, but opting for the adventurous path through the woods rather than the safety of a fenced in backyard.