I’d like to play with an analogy. Please take this as just some “food” for thought.
A number of years ago, needing to loose 20 lbs, I started on a nutrition program that promoted more than our usual three meals a day. The program uses the term “fuelings” to talk about the smaller meals that one eats on this program. The program was very helpful and effective for me. In particular, thinking about meals as fuelings was effective because it made me think of eating as fueling my body and mind more than just satisfying my hunger. Don’t get me wrong. I love a great tasty meal as much as anyone, especially when its accompanied by a good glass of wine. Yet, now, I don’t have to enjoy every fueling like I do when I eat a burger or tasty treat. Sometimes we simply need to eat to fuel our body, and these fuelings may or may not be “delicious.” In other words, some meals, fuelings, are more for the purpose of taking care of our health than enjoyment. Of course the two can and often do go together but it is helpful for me to put nutrition before enjoyment.
So here is my thought. Maybe we should look at faith practices as faith fuelings. Things like prayer, private & group scripture study, devotional reading, Christian education, service, relationship building, and worship. I’m pretty sure most of us in our consumer culture filter the importance of what we do, faith practices too, on the level of enjoyment, or, to keep the analogy going, on how good something “tastes.” What about worship? I wonder if we should think about worship first as fueling our faith and secondly as enjoyment. I love worship. Worship for me at SLC is a gourmet feast but not always. Once in a while, worship may not “taste” as good as other times but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fueling my faith. Although I really enjoy worship, I go, not because of my enjoyment, but because I need to fuel my faith. I’ve also learned that we need to fuel even when we are not “hungry.” Moreover, the more we can learn about the “whys and wherefores” of worship, the better it will taste. If you want to read more about this, try this link to a previous blog post from a few years ago. My point is that regardless of how well we like worship or any other faith practice for that matter, these practices are still fueling our faith.
This analogy has real flaws for sure, but maybe thinking about fueling our faith, especially as we receive the Word and Meal in worship, will help make our faith stronger and healthier. Maybe it might even give us a little added motivation to make worship and faith practices more of a priority when it comes to how we spend our time.