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Lord's Day Liturgy

Unguarded Faith

One sentence from my sermon last Sunday that I had in my notes but that I skipped while in the moment of preaching was: Joyless faith is unguarded faith, susceptible to offers of joy elsewhere.

We were meditating on the purpose statement in Philippians 1:25, for progress and joy of faith. All three verbal nouns mix and match: progress of faith and joy of faith, but also faith that makes progress in joy, and joyful progress in faith.

Joy by itself could be fleeting or based on fiction rather than rooted in faith. Jesus told a story about the seed that fell on rocky ground; that man heard the word and immediately received it with joy, yet he fell away when things got hard (Matthew 13:20-21).

But a man with faith without joy, no matter how orthodox his creed, is like a man defending a field without any fence. Or, it’s like being told you have to defend the field, but you see people having a party at the edge of the woods. They look like they’re quite enjoying themselves, you’re stuck watching the grass grow, but you have a verse for it.

This is part of the reason why pastors run off with their secretary, or why theology professors vote for abortion protecting politicians, or why young Christian adults kiss and cuddle with idiots, because for as clear as their confession of faith may be, they haven’t made progress in the joy of their faith.

We confess our sins because it is right, and because it makes us happy to take off the clothes which smell of sin vomit. There are joys set before us by sight (though some, like the party at the edge of the woods, might be bait), but there are better joys set before us by faith.