Are you still living on O.P. faith?

Chuck Tabor Contributing columnist

Chuck Tabor Contributing columnist

When I was a student at The Ohio State University (back before the flood), I had a roommate — let’s call him Bill — who used to glory in things “O.P.” In the evenings while my three roommates and I were sitting around our room, some studying, others watching television, or in some other ways just goofing off, Bill would brag about his ingenuity in using OP toothpaste, OP shampoo, OP soap. If it was a late night, and I was up studying, I would make a pot of coffee. Bill would come over, pour himself a cup, and as he turned to walk away, thank me for the OP coffee.

For a long time, I would object, saying, “No, it’s not, it’s Maxwell House.” The next time I went to the store I looked for that particular brand of coffee, O.P. But my search was in vain. So when I went back to the room, I told him I looked for that brand of coffee, but could not find it. He smiled wryly and said simply, “O.P. means Other People’s,” and turned and walked away.

In other words, roommate Bill was prone to “borrow” other people’s supply of whatever commodity he needed. Come to think of it, I do not ever remember seeing him buy anything that he could borrow. Probably the most significant and the most often used O.P. brand in which Bill would indulge himself was cigarettes. I know that in the years we roomed together I never saw him purchase his own pack of cigarettes. Bill did not smoke But every evening he would walk across the room to our other roommate’s desk, rummage around until he could find a pack of cigarettes, then he would quietly pull one of those sticks from its protective pouch, put it in his mouth, and with a sense of great satisfaction light it up. He was smoking an O.P. cigarette.

If you were to ask Bill if he were a smoker, he would claim that he was not. I mean, after all, he had never purchased a pack of cigarettes in his life. But the practice of smoking O.P. cigarettes did not seem to register with him that it was a habit.

In reading through the Gospels, there are two instances where Jesus miraculously fed lots of people with little to no supply. One time he fed 5,000 the other time he fed 4,000 people. Following the second feeding, he and his disciples went away for a little rest and relaxation. On the way, the disciples discovered they were hungry, but looking around they did not have any food to eat for themselves. They had been so busy taking care of feeding the huge crowd that they had forgotten to eat. But they also refused to even think about asking Jesus to “do his thing” by multiplying what little food they had so that all of them could eat. And Jesus chastised them for not asking (check out Mark 8:14-21).

It was almost as if those 12 men who knew him best of all did not even think about his doing something for them. They had only ever thought of him as doing something for the needy, the sick, or the demon-possessed. Yes, they had seen him calm a storm a time or two, but they just could not grasp that he would even think about doing some miraculous helping sort of thing just for them.

These disciples were living on O.P. faith. They believed in Jesus’ abilities to preach and teach about God’s plan and God’s kingdom. They also believed in his ability to heal and cast out demons — in others. And that belief was good enough for them. They really did not have to believe or understand that this faith was something they had to have as well. They were just along to help him out for a while, as long as the gig lasted.

Sometimes, I believe there are a lot of people who are living as the disciples were living in Mark 8. Yes, we believe in Jesus’ ability to do great things, but that ability is always in someone else’s life. Yes, we trust in His ability to save souls, but that is always for someone else, someone who needs it worse. We are willing to trust God to accomplish great things – for someone else.

Or another, perhaps even more prevalent illustration of this same syndrome is this: our neighbors have a lot of faith, so we will get up close to them, somehow hoping their faith will help or rub off on us. Or we will be like the man who was sticking to me like glue on one of the trips to Russia which I made. That man claimed that it “could not hurt” him to hang around with a minister during the trip. It may be a child saying I know I will go to heaven because my mom and dad go to church every Sunday. Or it could be a mom and dad saying the same thing about their kids.

The point: You and I will never get to heaven with O.P. faith. The Bible does not say for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in someone who believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Our faith must be our own.

I have not kept up with roommate Bill. But I suspect that after all these years even he is no longer smoking O.P. cigarettes. Are you still living on O.P. faith? I sincerely hope not.

God bless…

Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor. He can be reached at [email protected]

Chuck Tabor Contributing columnist Tabor Contributing columnist