Same Old Sentiment

I want to pause in the stream of my latest blogs and make an observation – actually make a confession about a pet peeve of mine. There actually is a difference between sentiment and follow-through, but most people don’t live as if this is the case. Think about it. Sentiment is all about nice happy thoughts that may or may not result in any action on those thoughts. You can have a sentiment that does nothing in reality. On the other hand, follow-through is based on some belief or value that probably began as a sentiment, but came to actually mean something in the real world through action.

Too many North American Christians think sentiment is as good as, or is the same thing as, follow through.  We live our lives in this funky North American culture as if, “Meaning well is as good as doing well,” “Nice ideas are as good as ideas that actually work in practice,” “Intention to act is as good as actually acting,” and “Desire to get to a certain destination in my life is as good as actually getting to that destination.” This brand of sentiment happens in a more innocent way when we say to one another “we should have lunch together sometime,” but never actually make time in our calendars to have the lunch. This kind of sentiment also plays itself out in a much more dangerous way as North American disciples often say, “I really want to live as Jesus would have me live,” but rarely attempt to actually live in the way of kingdom realities and rhythms.

I’m not saying sentiment is all wrong (it’s nice to be well-meaning people with good intentions), but I am saying sentiment doesn’t accomplish anything in the real world until there’s follow through. Am I being too harsh? Am I on to something here? Thoughts?

About Andy Lewis

Andy is an author, pastor, and musician who lives in Santa Cruz California. Currently he serves as lead pastor at Faith Community Church in Santa Cruz
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2 Responses to Same Old Sentiment

  1. Scott Rice says:

    Yes, I think you are on to something.
    Something related that I’ve considered about sentiment: Sometimes there’s a tendancy to imagine ourselves doing “the right thing” in a way that’s totally unrealistic. Our sentiment tends towards a kind of romantic idea about what it will feel like (good, noble, we will be understood and applauded). Reality often takes us off-guard, however; like Peter when he was suddenly afraid to admit to a little servant girl that he was a follower of…that guy. (This after declaring shortly beforehand that he was prepared to die for him.) Doing the right thing can actually feel completely wrong when it comes right down to it.
    Like you say, the seniment is nice, but we have to be prepared to do the follow through without it.

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