T-shirt fans: Reflections on Wavering Faith in the OT

Fair Weather Fans...

In recent weeks, I have noticed a recurring theme among people and organizations around me, one which rings true throughout history.  When things are going poorly, or perhaps simply less than expected, people are quite inclined toward change.  In fact, in situations such as this people are very likely to assume that change automatically means improvement.

From sports culture to politics, this theme is evident even in the last few weeks.  When America’s favorite football team produces a season far short of capabilities and expectations, cries for the firing of the head coach begin.  As the season worsens, the murmurings grow into rampant Facebook statuses calling for some sort of drastic change.  One can’t help but think that if things had been going better no one would question a thing.

If your favorite college football team’s quarterback is playing poorly, put in the back up! We love him! Or worse, when an unknown team suddenly emerges, everyone joins the band wagon.  When things go south, the t-shirt fans are much less likely to put on the team colors.  This reality is appears in Scripture, and sadly within the church today as well.

This evening I watched as likely Speaker of the House candidate and U.S. Representative John Boehner acknowledged the victories of the GOP and brought a message which centered on the demand to “Change Course.” I couldn’t help but remember the last time the word change rang through political talk, as President Obama’s campaign championed the terms “hope” and “change”.  Indeed, political history of the last decades reveals a theme of change and turnover.  Tonight marked the third dramatic party change in a row for the U.S. Congress.  One can note historical events (i.e. wars, economic anomalies, etc.), but it’s clear that when things aren’t going well, the turnover rate is incredibly high.

Throughout the Old Testament we have continued to see the swaying back and forth of the faithfulness of God’s people.  It’d be nice to say that through thick and thin they never questioned God, but that is not reality. They are, after all, people.  When troubles come or life is not what was expected, the theme of wavering can be seen from the faith of Abraham to the murmuring traditions of the Exodus and no doubt carries into the Joshua-Judges events.

The narratives and accounts of the Old Testament continually reveal a people who struggle to maintain faithfulness, purity of belief, unwavering holiness, and unhindered devotion as they experience difficulty or distress in life.

In the Western world today, there’s no denying that we have far too many t-shirt fans of God. People who would consider themselves Christians are happy to attend church and acknowledge God’s glory and goodness in times of social, economic, or personal success, but they are prepared to throw that out the window if it doesn’t seem to better their life.  In his recent book, The Christian Atheist, Craig Groeschel points out the large number of people who are “believing in God but living as if he doesn’t exist.”  Though our culture and worldview may be apt for change when things aren’t going well, this theme must be jettisoned when it comes to our faith!

As God’s people, we must seek solidarity, pursue faithfulness, and hold firm in our faith in God as we fix our eyes on Him. “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” And as we pursue a Deuteronomy 4 kind of faith, one which truly loves the Lord with all heart, soul, and strength, may we recognize that this is our aim for both the good times and the bad.  No fair weather fans permitted.  No changing when you don’t like how things go.  God is God, and we are not.



t.n. brown Written by: