Sunday, October 8, 2017

Mannequin Faith

In my late teens and early 20’s, I studied several styles of martial arts. This was back in the late 60’s and early 70’s when martial arts in the United States was evolving. We used to learn our self-defense techniques by having a student stand in front of an instructor as a willing demonstration mannequin. The student would hold an attack pose, frozen in mid-air, while the instructor showed us how to defend against the imagined attack. After the instructor demonstrated the technique the students would pair up and execute the technique with each other. There is nothing wrong with these stationary demonstrations as part of a student's initial training as long as it is not communicated as reality on the streets.

Several decades ago Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) came to the forefront. These practitioners cleaned the clocks of many of the other martial arts styles in no-holds-barred competition. These MMA practitioners were able to attack from any angle and could quickly take the fight to the ground where most fights end up and where the defeated opponent eventually taps out.

There seems to be a glut of faith-formulas that are like the early martial arts teaching techniques that were demonstrated to many of us before MMA became the dominate fighting style. These formulas sound good but they are not the reality of a down and dirty street fight of faith. The problem with these formulas is when life hits the fan their naively demonstrated techniques fail to hold up under an assault of real spiritual warfare. Some believers have become so discouraged in defeat from these failed formulas that they ended up blaming God or the Church for their failure and walked away from their faith when in reality it was their untested formula that was the problem.

Don’t give people formulas. Give them an encounter with the living God. Once a person engages the reality of a supernatural God who will never leave them or forsake them no matter how challenging the attack, they will fight the fight of faith from a place that is fueled by a confidence in God, not in a well-crafted formula of faith no matter how spiritual it may sound.

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