WORD FROM THE PASTOR: Fads
I used to be rather disdainful of fads. As a young man, I was self-consciously non-conformist and had a horror of following the crowd. (Ironically, during the 1960s, non-conformity itself became a fad!) Over the years, however, I have come to regard fads much more positively. (I date this change in myself to the day in 1981 when I hung a J. R. Ewing poster on my wall). For one thing, fads provide a certain cultural unity to our country. When I was a kid, there were three television channels. Those limited choices meant that when you watched a TV show, you were uniting with a large portion of the country that was watching that same TV show. Now there are hundreds of stations, so that sense of cultural unity is gone. So a fad like Potter or Star Wars actually helps to forge a certain amount of unity in our society.
Indeed, maybe the reason we latch onto fads is because we want a sense that we belong to something greater than ourselves. When I’m reading the same book, watching the same movie, or doing the same dance as many other people, it brings a certain comfort. I am part of a community. I am not alone. This book, this film, this dance, this coonskin cap unites me with a whole bunch of other people. This is really what fads represent–a longing for community, a longing to belong.
It’s a legitimate human desire. After all, we can feel so alone in this world, so cut off from other people. I think of Tennessee Williams’ great line, that we are all sentenced to solitary confinement in our own skins for life. Then I think of a great line from Hemingway: “A man alone ain’t got no bloody...chance in this world”. And then I think of a great verse from Holy Scripture: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). We need a sense that we belong to something beyond ourselves, that it’s not just “me against the world”.
But really, it’s in Christianity, in our faith, that the desire that lies behind fads is fulfilled. In the Christian faith, we truly become part of something greater than ourselves. We are drawn into a living relationship with God, who is the greatest reality of all. We are brought into friendship with the one who created the universe, the one who holds all power in his hands. We also have that God’s promise that He will never forsake us, will never leave us. Indeed, He is so committed to being with us always that He became what we are, became human, in Jesus Christ...and He died to remove the barrier of sin that separates us from Him. With Him, we are never alone. With Him, we always belong to something big!
And the sense of community is found in His holy church. When we gather for worship, we are part of something big... a movement that reaches across the country and around the world. In that moment of worship, we are joining with tens of millions of people in doing the very same thing–singing the praises of God. And not just with people on earth–but even with the untold billions who populate heaven! (I don’t know if they read the latest best-seller or watch the latest film in heaven–but I do know they worship God there!) So when we worship God, we are joining with an uncountable number of the living and the departed.
And the wonderful thing about these Christian realities is that they don’t fade away. Fads do fade away–indeed, the difference between “fad” and “fade” is a single letter! Fads are fun while they last–but they don’t last long. But Scripture tells us that our faith is anchored in things that do last. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God remains forever” (Isaiah 40:8 ). “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). God and His church last forever, outliving any fad that might come along.
I am not hostile to fads. Often I will read the popular book, see the popular film, because I like that sense of being united with other people. But the greatest joy, the greatest satisfaction, comes from being united with One who truly is greater than myself–Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Saviour, who is indeed “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
God loves you and so do I!