‘Confessions of a Bad Christian’ – This is a test

One of my many failed careers was as a disk jockey at 1350 Radio…WCHI in Chillicothe, Ohio (Motto: How did we get these call letters instead of a Chicago station?). I remember having to the run the weekly test of the Emergency Broadcast System. Remember that annoying little jewel?

Obnoxious sound effect.
Obnoxious sound effect.

“This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. The broadcasters of your area in voluntary cooperation with the Federal, State and local authorities have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, the Attention Signal you just heard would have been followed by official information, news or instructions. This concludes this test of the Emergency Broadcast System.”

I was always tempted to say that “had this been an actual emergency I will be in my car headed south” but I restrained myself. I had already gotten a little slap from the FCC when I took a toss for the mandatory station ID and dropped this clever little quip.

“It’s the white building on Eastern Avenue with the huge tower behind it…now back to you.”  I found out at a very young age that government agencies are humorless.

I never took the Emergency Broadcast System seriously because, like most human beings, I never thought anything would happen. It is much the same with the Emergency Faith Test System. This week I have had a test of the EFTS. My family received the kind of news this week that causes you to activate the Emergency Faith Test System. I have written often that we misrepresent the journey if we intimate that everything will be smooth sailing when you follow Jesus. The following is from “Bring’em Back Alive”. 

Jesus is not a money back guarantee for perfect health, prosperity and non-stop giddiness.  There are no guarantees of smooth sailing when we commit in faith to follow Jesus. Correction. Jesus did offer a guarantee concerning trouble in our lives. He guaranteed we would experience it. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matt 6:34 In talking about the immature believer Jesus said, “But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.” Matt 13:21 Or as the always eloquent Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a game plan until they get hit in the mouth.”  And that is where our spiritual “sparring” partners often let us down. We don’t prepare new Christians for the inevitable spiritual punch in the mouth that is coming from life, from the enemy and, sadly, sometimes from each other.

 I also think the church can mislead recent and seeking believers when we inform them to just “give their troubles to Jesus.” What we neglected to tell them from the eternal life fine print is that Jesus might have given or allowed those very troubles to shape their character and need for Him.  We conveniently forget to mention that from those troubles God will develop maturity and depth to our
faith and there is much to be mined from those difficulties. NBA basketball star Alonzo Mourning had a wonderful quote when facing a career ending illness, “Adversity introduces a man to himself.” When we suddenly face adversity we discover if our faith stands up the challenge. Does this faith work when the skies turn dark and the seas are rough?
Former UCLA football coach Pepper Rogers was a proponent of a type of complicated offense called the wishbone. When the team struggled, the alumni demanded that he change the system. “The wishbone,” Rogers said, “is like Christianity. If you believe in it only till something goes wrong, you don’t believe in it in the first place.”   

In many ways we are like that alumni group when we question the system when trouble comes our way. We have two uncomfortable options to consider when we respond like that. Either we don’t actually believe the promises of Jesus or we don’t know what promises He made to us in the Bible. So what should we communicate about our faith? How about letting our Lord sell the message? He never promised a trouble free romp through the world.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33

 What an incredible promise! The enemy has diverted us to a message that is far less fulfilling. Joni and I have activated the Emergency Faith System. And unlike my cynical response from the old broadcast days, I know this system works. God has proved faithful before and He has not changed.