The Road to Bad Faith 2: Checklist belief

Turn acts faith into a list of chores. This is a surefire way to make activities that should be full of joy boring as hell.

The act of baptism requires full body immersion. John the Baptist submerged the believers beneath the surface of the Jordan in order to absolve them of their sins. In the same way, faith can be viewed as a baptism. Complete submersion is required to become healthy and whole.

But what of us journeying down the road to a bad faith? Well the idea is simple: stay in the shallow end. Having only toes or feet in the water means you don’t get wet, but also means you don’t join anyone having fun in the deep end of the pool.

The things that help to increase faith are well-known; prayer, reading Gods word, talking to others, attending groups/church can all be paths to a healthy faith. But we can make them unhealthy too. In order to accomplish this, try and make each of these activities part of a checklist that you must complete every day. Although this may work against your quest for bad faith initially because discipline can be helpful, you can easily turn each of these activities into a complete chore.

Now the easiest thing would be to do none of these things. Go completely cold turkey. But if you’re reading this, you are probably invested to a certain extent already and guilt may even motivate you to take part in these activities. The good news is guilt about not doing them is already a step to these activities being pointless for you, for you are doing them out of a sense of obligation not out of love. This will make it far easier to follow the steps below.

Reading the Bible

This is perhaps the easiest one. My own church has a plan where the bible can be read at least once if read in three sections. Your goal is to complete all of the required readings as fast as humanly possible. Scan read each passage and never stop to consider things you find challenging or thought-provoking. Once one is completed, move instantly on to the next one, then the next, until you have done the bare minimum. Then you can throw your bible on your shelf, having both completed your daily task whilst gaining nothing from it whatsoever.

Prayer

Prayer is the avenue through which you can talk to God. Fortunately, God doesn’t answer us directly (I.e. with a voice you can recognise) so it is easy to turn prayer into a fruitless exercise.

Use the same prayer every time. Structured prayers could be a way to improve your chats with God, but your prayers should be identical every time; never inject any personal information such as worries, hopes and desires into your prayers. These conversations should be treated like you are talking to a stranger, with the minimal amount of information that may reveal your true self (even though God already knows everything).

This will depersonalise your prayers over time. They will have no benefit to you at all because you never expose what you truly want or feel. Talking to God could lead to personal revelations or at least some catharsis; but follow this advice and prayer will become a pointless exercise not worth the couple of minutes it takes to say them.

Church/ other groups

Attending church or other groups associated with faith could have the potential to improve your faith. These experiences provide the opportunity to learn and to grow in your understanding of God, yourself and the scriptures.

As referred to above, you may not be ready to quit cold turkey from church activities. So, attend but don’t attend. Your body can be physically present in the space where learning and growth might occur, but allow your mind to wander elsewhere. Never pay attention for longer than five minutes. Instead worry about life outside of the church; think about your next meal, or the work meeting you have tomorrow. This has the dual benefit of distracting you from listening and learning, and also from engaging in quiet meditation that may bring some inner peace.

Conclusion

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them round your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬
https://www.bible.com/113/pro.3.3.nivuk

Your goal is to avoid the above. Getting so close to God that his love is written on your heart might lead to personal growth, improvement and contentment. So, do the bare minimum you think might be required of you, but engage no further. Avoid ducking your head below the surface if you can. Even better, stay in the shallow end.

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