Not too long ago our priest used the fable of the Sour Grapes as an illustration of how we tend to minimize those elements of faith that we can't accomplish or find too hard. The story struck home with me in my own life. Upon reflection I could look back over my own life and see churches and individuals trim and cut portions of the faith they found too difficult under the pretense of "getting to the basics" or "finding the core of Christianity."
The story is familiar to most all people, and the phrase "sour grapes" can be found in most languages. One day a fox full of hunger and weariness staggered along a road looking for something to fill his belly. After some time, he came upon a cluster of wild grapes hanging from a roadside tree. Encouraged by their appearance, he wandered off the road toward the tree. Unfortunately, the grapes did not hang low enough for him to reach without some effort. He stretched upward but could not reach the grapes. He jumped into the air, but was too short. In a last attempt, he took a running start and leaped toward the vines but was just shy of their juicy goodness.
Dejected by his efforts, he proclaimed, 'Oh, you aren't even ripe yet! I don't need any sour grapes.'
So often, I have become the fox in my own Christian journey. "I am too tired to prayer this morning, oh, it doesn't matter I can pray anywhere." "I can't fast today, I am busy and need more energy than normal, God surely understands."
Thinking through my own examples, sour grape faith infects us in several ways:
1. Doctrinal: This tenet of the faith is merely fringe and does not really matter in the grand scheme of our salvation or how we understand Christ.
2. Ascetical: This is the world of spiritual disciplines such as regimented fasting, prayer, vigils, almsgiving, etc.
3. Practical: This is daily living, and choices we make about where we go, how we speak, and what we allow into our minds.
Questions: Is this an accurate picture of the Christian struggle? What are specific areas that easily fall prey to sour grape faith?