by John Armstrong
The Great Frederick Fair of 2018 is now just a memory. For some that is a sad thing, I’m sure there are others that are ambivalent or just don’t care at all (I’m sure of this because I’m one of them). I’ve been to the Fair about 6 or 7 times, I don’t keep count. There was the one year when my wife discovered a small funnel cake vendor at a gas station just a block from the fairgrounds. That year she was able to get her annual funnel cake fix and we didn’t have to go into the Fair proper. Sadly, that vendor has not returned. When we do go to the Fair we try to go when they have the Horse Pull scheduled. That is free and wholesome entertainment which I recommend. It’s kind of like a Monster Truck Competition but with enormous draft horses. Well, not really like monster trucks, but anyway it is fun to watch these massive animals doing what they have been bred to do. I also like to go see the livestock, there are some crazy chickens and all kinds of other fun animals to see. You can even go to the birthing center and see animals being born. How fun is that? Now, why am I talking about this? Every year that I go to the Fair, I never stay long, because I don’t feel comfortable, I don’t like the overall environment. I don’t like the crowds, I do like the food, I do like the animals, I don’t like the carnival, maybe you can relate. Every time I find myself at the Fair or at any carnival type event, I’m reminded of John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. If you have never read Pilgrim’s Progress, I highly recommend it. It is arguably the second most read book in the English language following the Bible. If you are familiar with the book, then you probably know where I’m going with this talk of the Fair. In the book, there is a place called Vanity Fair. It is an evil place where all kinds of vanity are sold all year around. The two main characters in the book up to this point are Christian and Faithful who are on their way to the Celestial City. The road they are taking passes through the town of Vanity. At Vanity Fair, they are called fools and troublemakers, they are referred to as foreigners because they did not speak the language of Vanity, but they spoke the language of God’s people. They refused to buy any of the vanities that were for sale at the fair. A riot broke out at the fair when Christian and Faithful said they would only buy the truth. They were abused and persecuted and thrown into a cage. Ultimately, Faithful is martyred by the local officials and later Christian is able to escape the town and continue his journey. The point is that Christian and Faithful were aliens and strangers in that place. Just like we are to be aliens and strangers in this world. Our citizenship is not of this world, but it is in heaven. Therefore, we will seem strange and out of place at the carnival this world has to offer. We are not talking now about a fair that is held once a year, we are talking about a system of vanity that we live in day in and day out. We are tempted on all sides by worthless and false things that would distract us from our love and loyalty to the Lord. As disciples of the Lord Jesus the way we speak, the way we act, the things we prioritize are going to make us stick out as different in this world and the world will hate us for calling on the name of Jesus. The world hates Jesus and they will hate us for loving Him. Why am I saying all of this? I want you to know it is a good thing to be uncomfortable at the “fair.”