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Antifragile Faith

• Dan Kent

The struggles we face offer us a choice: avoid them or use them as an opportunity to develop antifragile faith. Pain avoidance will keep us fragile, but when we press on with Christ as the goal, we can develop perseverance or what Dan calls, antifragile faith.

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One might argue that this message titled “Antifragile Faith” should be called “Strong Faith” because strength is the antithesis of fragility. However, both fragile things and strong things break under duress, it’s just that the latter requires a greater degree of stress. Antifragility is different in that it actually increases in strength as one faces growing levels of stress. It is something that can grow as we endure and press through the challenges that arise in life.

In this sermon, Dan addresses how our faith can grow in antifragility. Crucial to answering this question is clarity about what we place at the center of our lives. In modern life, most place the pursuit of happiness at the center. When we do this, we set ourselves up for a fragile life because the only way to grow in antifragility is to press through stress and suffering. The pursuit of happiness is mutually exclusive to suffering, which means that we will avoid challenges as much as possible and therefore we will remain fragile.

We see from our focus scripture, 1 Peter 3:14, that there is blessing in the midst of suffering when we put Christ as the Lord of our hearts. In other words, we find these blessings when we are not fixated on the pursuit of happiness. This is illustrated by the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. The only way that we can grow in the manifestations of this fruit is when we have pressed through circumstances that cause resistance to them.

James 1:2-4 tells us that we can find joy in our trials because they test our faith and produce perseverance. This perseverance completes us—equating to antifragility. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 to give thanks in all things because there is no circumstance from which we cannot benefit. Every situation is an opportunity to be transformed. We give thanks as a counterattack against the enemy who is always trying to stoke the fires of despair, envy, insecurity and disappointment.

When we pursue happiness, the natural response to our struggles and sufferings is to avoid. This only makes matters worse. As an alternative to avoidance, Dan offers the experience of walking through a labyrinth, which is a metaphor for how we face and press through our struggles. As we walk it, we feel lost and uncertain. The only way to progress is to take the next step because we do not have the ability to see the entire journey. As Augustine once said, “It is solved by walking.”

We are invited to take the next step. Are we willing? More specifically, are we willing to put Christ at the center of our pursuit? We might fail at this. We might even fail many times along the way. But the only way to move ahead is to push aside avoidance and press on toward the prize of the knowledge of Jesus.

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Topics: Gratitude, Pain & Suffering, Transformation

Sermon Series: The Center of Hope

Downloads & Resources

Audio File
Study guide
Group Study Guide
The MuseCast: September 5

Focus Scripture:

  • 1 Peter 3:14-15a

    But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.

For Further Reading:

Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck

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6 thoughts on “Antifragile Faith

  1. Jerry says:

    Dan: Thank you so much for this message. “Having happiness as the center” Wow!

    1 Peter 5:5 ‘God resists the proud’ because they are arrogant, self-absorbed and so unemotionally aware of anything other than, as the constitution promotes, their own pursuit of happiness ‘but he shows favor to the humble’ – those living beyond happy.

    John 13:3-5 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel wrapped around him.

    Philippians 2:6-8 who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage, instead, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!

    Jesus wasn’t against winning however he was in an entirely different competition than the kingdoms of this world. In his humility, he was competing against [pride, arrogance, self-sufficiency, and self-absorption] for the gain of others so as to advance the kingdom of Heaven.

    Mark 10:42-45 Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to [give his life as a ransom for many].”

    Our opportunity to live like Jesus, [to give our life away], the Way of the Cross, while we’re still on the road is slipping away, and anything other than following on this narrow path of wisdom, in the fruit of the spirit, must one day be left at the gate and as Dan said not a lobotomy someday, by God, but our own willingness to suffer the loss.

  2. Dan says:

    Great verses, Jerry, and great reflections. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Skin says:

    Someone’s been reading Nassim Talib.

  4. Dan says:

    That’s right, lol. As mentioned in the sermon. I ended up reading all five books in his series this year.

  5. Joel says:

    Hi Dan, all the way from Adelaide, Australia… just wanted to say a big thank you for your message and the sincerity with which it was delivered. Such a blessing to have you preach and share with your church community and the global one.

    1. Dan says:

      Thank you, Joel, for the encouragement. All the way from Australia! I appreciate your comments.

      Dan Kent

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