My Faith is Not in Obama (or why I won’t clap for Tinkerbell)


There is a scene in Peter Pan when Tinkerbell has drunk poison to save Peter. The audience is told that if they believe in fairies they should clap very hard and very loud because if they all believe in fairies they will save Tinkerbell. And everyone does clap! And they clap louder and louder until everyone in the room believes in fairies, they do, they really do!

There’s a lot of Tinkerbell faith around these days.

We throw the word “faith” around like it’s a basketball. We need renewed faith in the stock market. We need to restore faith in the economy. We need to have faith that the housing market will recover. We need to call on the community of faith to support the President’s health initiatives.

Come on, everyone, clap! Louder and louder! If we only believe we can save our poisoned country!

Sad, really. But it doesn’t just happen in politics.

We do it within the church, too. We’re guilty, too, of fostering a Tinkerbell faith as if Jesus had sacrificed himself for us and is fading away but if enough people will just believe in Him, attend this conference, show up at this church at this time, buy this book, give this much, hear this sermon, visit this website, attend this movie, vote for this leader, say this prayer then Jesus will be saved! Everyone say it. I do believe in Jesus, I do, I do.

But, it’s not like that.

I have to give credit to ancient cultures because they at least acknowledged their idols openly. When they chose to worship a god of their own creation, they actually built it out of wood or stone and set it up in their living room next to the credenza so they could bow down to it, pray to it, dust it, when necessary.

We moderns don’t have the guts to admit to our idols but we have them. We idolize politicians, musicians, careers, medicine, science, our own intellects, our own wise choices. We idolize preachers, worship styles, denominations, movements, our own understanding, our good works, our wise choice to be different from those “other” believers.

Every time we expect something to save us that is not God, we make that something an idol.And here is how we know the difference between our idols and the One True God: our idols need our Tinkerbell faith in order to live, to thrive, to grow. God doesn’t.

There is a story in I Samuel 5 that tells of when the Philistines, enemies to Israel, had captured the Ark of the Covenant (you remember that from Raiders of the Lost Ark, right?) and they set it in the temple next their god, Dagon. When they came to visit the temple in the morning, Dagon had fallen on his face before the ark and his head and hands had broken off.

In Isaiah, God addresses this problem of idols. In chapters 45 and 46, He says “Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save.” And then, “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.

I am God and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.”

Obama may turn out to be an OK leader – but he can’t save me. My pastor may be a wonderful preacher and a godly man – but he can’t save me. Counseling, medicine, education, an improved economy, praise music – these are all useful but they cannot save me.

My faith is not in Obama. Neither was my faith in Bush. My faith is not in our economy. My faith is not in my denomination. My faith is not in economic success or religious fervor. My faith is in Christ alone. Only He can save. Presidents, kings and dictators come and go. Denominations change. Church leaders sometimes disappoint. Movements falter, fail, become stagnant or go mainstream. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Remember the people who worshiped Dagon? The Philistines? They don’t exist any longer. They worshipped a god of their own creation. They carried him around and tended to him and in the end, he could not save them.

Remember the Jews? A tiny nation. A nation of people who have been targeted for annihilation again and again and again. Their God carried them. Their God’s right arm was not too short to save.

Their God sent His son and offered that salvation to the whole world. He does not need us to clap Him into existence. He does not need us to conjure up a Tinkerbell faith to keep Him alive.

He is.

And we should be careful that we do not manufacture for ourselves, either outside or inside the church, gods of wood or stone or stocks and bonds or votes or promises or flesh and bone or dreams or our own reflections.

They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say ‘Come and save us!” Where, then, are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble! For you have as many gods as you have towns, O Judah. Why do you bring charges against me? You have all rebelled against me,” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 2:27a-29

The true community of faith believes in a God who created them – not the other way around.

So hold your applause ‘til the end and always know why you’re clapping in the first place. Because, after you save Tinkerbell, who’s going to save you?


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11 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Anonymous says:

    I always like reading your commentaries, Lori, but you hit this one out of the park. Great hook, gentle tug, then landing the message.

    Thanks for the way this will resonate with me all day.

    Bruce W. Singleton
    Somerset KY

  2. Thanks, Bruce! I’m honored you stop by and I appreciate your encouragement! Your comment made writing this essay sound like an Olympic event and I feel like I stuck the landing! 🙂 Thanks, again.

  3. Cheri says:

    Lori,

    This was an incredible post! As always, I appreciate the insight and honesty of true faith!

    May God continue to bless you with revelation, insight, and boldness to challenge us all!

    Hugs,
    Cheri

  4. Thank you, Cheri. I do seek His blessing! And I’m always seeking His insight in routing out the idols in my own life.

  5. Karen says:

    Thank you for this post, Lori. Faith is certainly one of those words that is thrown around so loosely. And thank you for reminding us that that an idol can be anything that directs our love away from Jesus. Great post.

  6. Again, love your feedback, Karen. Always on the lookout for where I may be grasping at idols in my own life. Constant diligence!

  7. Oh, wow! “I do believe, I DO believe!” Incredible that that’s what Western Christendom has fallen into in so many ways. You nailed this one for sure.

  8. Clap, Clap, Clap, yes, I’m applauding this one, because I know it will give God the glory! Our hope, our help, our source is Christ alone.

  9. Well said, Lori. I’m new to your blog. Clicked on the comment you made on Nick Harrison’s blog and here I am. Your candid nature reminds me of… well… me! Thanks for the commentary. It was wonderfully written. God bless.

  10. Thank you, Shannon! And welcome to the blog. I hope you’ll come back and bring a friend next time! Love to meet others who are like-minded.

  11. I’ll definitely be back. Your article’s stickin’ with me this morning. Think I’ll tweet it! You should hit my blog up sometime. Fun stuff!