The Face of the Faith

One of my favorite people is Dani Chaffin. Most of you have never heard of her or her husband Allen. I met Dani in 1997 on a plane to Israel. She was very involved in the New Age. It wasn’t that she wanted to be a New Ager. She had grown up in churches, accepted Christ when she was younger and loved Him. But she had questions and the churches and pastors in her area did not seem to have answers and let her know on more than one occasion that such questions were not welcomed. One must “just have faith,” she was told. This only made the questions more vexing. The face of the faith to her came across as one more of religious superstition and prescribed behavior which excluded the life of the mind. On our flight and for our 10 days in Israel we talked about the various worldviews and how we can assess the truth or falsity of each worldview. We also discussed the fact that our worldview directs how he or she will make the bulk of their decisions. She renewed her love for and commitment to Jesus and has made worldviews and apologetics a mainstay in sharing her faith as well as growing in her faith. One of the lines I have picked up from her which she uses on rare occasions is, “He (or she) wears Jesus well.” When she comes across an individual who loves God with all of their heart, soul and mind (living the greatest commandment) they represent the face of faith in ways that are seldom seen. Dani is one who wears Jesus well. I began reflecting on this when I saw Senate Probes Televangelists’ Finances in the news this week. Benny Hinn, Creflo Dollar, Kenneth Copeland, Joyce Meyer, Eddie Long and Paula White are the first names in this investigation. For many non-believers they are also the public face of the faith.

Their teaching revolves primarily around getting stuff. Bigger bank accounts, mansions, personal jets, and just generally all the stuff you could ever want. The idea of Jesus delivering us from the bondage and ravages of sin are just not all that important. Jesus didn’t die to provide for our need but to supply the demands of our greed. Others not currently under investigation but who also hold to and teach these ideas are T.D. Jakes and Joel Osteen. Ben Witherington posted an interesting piece on his blog recently he titled Memo to Mr. Osteen from John Wesley :

“I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore, I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of religion to continue long. For religion must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and love of the world in all its branches.”

— John Wesley (1703-1791).

Pride, anger and love of the world do not represent the faith and as Wesley shows, are in opposition to it. It is not that riches are evil. Riches are inanimate and are neither good nor evil and can be used for either or both. It is what happens to the heart of the individual who strives to possess them. The measure of our success becomes how much material stuff we possess rather than by how much we are possessed by Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. The story of God’s coffee gives us a glimpse at the different results which come based on focus:

A group of alumni, all highly established in their respective careers, got together for a visit with their old university professor.

The conversation soon turned to complaints about the endless stress of work and life in general…

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went into the kitchen and soon returned with a large pot of coffee and an eclectic assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal – some plain, some expensive, some quite exquisite.

Quietly he told them to help themselves to some fresh coffee… When each of his former students had a cup of coffee in hand, the old professor quietly cleared his throat and began to patiently address the small gathering…

”You may have noticed that all of the nicer looking cups were taken up first, leaving behind the plainer and cheaper ones. While it is only natural for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is actually the source of much of your stress-related problems.”

He continued…”Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In fact, the cup merely disguises or dresses up what we drink. What each of you really wanted was coffee, not a cup, but you instinctively went for the best cups… Then you began eyeing each other’s cups….”

”Now consider this: Life is coffee. Jobs, money, and position in society are merely cups. They are just tools to shape and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not truly define nor change the quality of the Life we live. Often, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee that God has provided us… God brews the coffee, but he does not supply the cups. Enjoy your coffee!”

The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything they have… So please remember: Live simply. Love generously. Care Deeply. Speak Kindly. Leave the Rest to God.

And remember – the richest person is not the one who has the most, but the one who needs the least.

It seems a shame that Christian leaders do not love the T.V. Evangelists enough to call them to task for their false teaching and the behavior that comes of it. Instead it falls to the secular government to try to do house cleaning. Thus the ones in the public eye become the public face for the faith. Fortunately, my friend Dani wears Jesus well. She and others like her care far more about “God’s coffee” than what cup it may come in and are so busy giving it to others that they aren’t holding on to the cups long enough to become attached to them anyway.


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