Taking Our Faith Off-Road

And whatever our earthly station, we must, must, must see our need for God, our brokenness before him. There is no room for arrogance.

Sport SUVs and tricked out Jeeps and phat tire trucks and Hummers – they’re everywhere. And with gasoline basically free, we’re going to see a lot more of them. When we get to leave our homes. I’m sure you’ve also noticed that most of these ostensibly off-road vehicles never actually go off any roads. They’re parked in front of the house, on the street, on smooth pavement. They’re taken out for shopping or, these days, for some drive-thru! And they get washed on the weekends. Oh, do they get their bath time. Some of them even have wenches, you know, in the event they can’t make it all the way into the garage.

The point? Application? Where does all this rubber meet the (off) road? These off-road vehicles are rarely used as they were intended, which for Hummers would be warfare. I’m certainly not suggesting we should saddle up and go to war, but I am suggesting all of this as an analogy for our faith. Most of us for most of our lives “enjoyed” an off-road faith parked in front of our house. We rarely ventured out into the parts of the world – heck, even our own towns and cities — that hurt and bleed and cry and seek. Why would we do that? We might blow a tire. It’s scary out there! Well, now it’s scary in here! So we stay on the road, because heaven forbid (and heaven doesn’t), we might get mud on our chrome or our fog lights. But off-road is precisely what our faith and our love are for, for which they are designed by God. Tough times and rugged terrain. Hello COVID.

So we stay on the road, because heaven forbid (and heaven doesn’t), we might get mud on our chrome or our fog lights. But off-road is precisely what our faith and our love are for, for which they are designed by God. Tough times and rugged terrain. Hello COVID.

We want to huddle, but we don’t want to scrimmage. I’m mixing my metaphors here, but GAWD do I miss sports!! Fortunately, Christ has overcome our threatening, hostile world, even the COVID version. We are to go into this world off-road, not in retreat. We are to forge friendships with people we have viewed as a threat or an enemy. Yes, those people. Those other people. We are called to seek out the least, the lost, the overlooked. Because God will bless us? No, of course not. We already have the blinged out faith, after all. But He will bless, and He will enable. Salt and light require contact, so we should be found trusting the gift God has given us and trust Christ who has overcome the world.

If you’re like me, and I sincerely hope you aren’t, you are the product of a relatively secure background of unearned benefits and uncounted breaks. We cannot take for granted our advantages over others in health, or wealth, or talents, or ability, or success. We must pay a price for all these unearned benefits and uncounted breaks, especially in a period of local, regional, national, and global crisis. We owe in return a special responsibility for other people. And whatever our earthly station, we must, must, must see our need for God, our brokenness before him. There is no room for arrogance. COVID offers in some ways an ideal setting to cultivate a our need for a hunger and thirst for a righteousness we don’t yet have.

As a meditation, as we consider how God might take our faith off-road, I suggest Mother Teresa’s wonderful, autobiographical poem, “Anyway.”

People are unreasonable, illogical and self-centered.

Love them anyway.

If you do good, people may accuse you of selfish motives.

Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you may win false friends and true enemies.

Succeed anyway.

The good you do may be forgotten tomorrow.

Do good anyway.

Honesty and openness make you vulnerable.

Be honest and open anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.

Build anyway.

People who really want to help may attack you if you help them.

Help them anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you may get hurt.

Give the world your best anyway

Guest author: Brian Carroll, PhD

Brian Carroll is a professor of Communications and Department Chair at Berry College. He is the author of six books, including When to Stop the Cheering? The Black Press, the Black Community and the Integration of Professional Baseball (Routledge, 2007), A Devil’s Bargain, The Black Press and Black Baseball 1915-1955 (Routledge, 2014), and Writing & Editing for Digital Media (Routledge, 2017). His next book explores the role of Shakespeare in inventing a nation.

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