Photo by LittleJack on Morgue File.
If I were to ask you, what is an essential of the Christian life?
I am sure there would be many answers given. Some would answer humility. Others would say patience. Some would reply with love. Or perhaps some would offer servanthood, compassion, obedience or the like.
Surely, one answer would be faith.
Faith is an interesting thing.
God has been teaching me quite a bit about faith over the last three or so years. Some of those lessons have been painful and uber-challenging.
I saw a saying the other day in a bookstore, this is what it said: Your faith must be bigger than your fear.
It struck me when I saw and read it. It was like a lightning bolt out of the clear, blue sky. Yet, another lesson God was sending my way concerning faith!
As I have thought about that message more and more, I have found some other things to be equally as true. My faith must be bigger than my perspectives, opinions, hopes, dreams, goals, ambitions, perceptions, finances, talents, abilities, gifts . . . et. al.
My faith must be more than these, because the God I serve is infinitely bigger than all these things put together.
But faith can be tricky.
God has made it apparent to me that I have called many things faith in my life that really were not. In fact, I wonder if I even knew what faith was. Yes, I could give definitions and exegetically preach and teach from passages dealing with faith; but, did I know, that is personally, what faith was all about?
I wonder if others have been, or are, in the same boat?
I fear our conveniences, for those of us in the western world, have caused us to grow fat, gluttonous and lazy.
I began to ask the hard questions that pertained to our lifestyles and this thing called faith. How much faith do we really need (or exercise) when we have nice jobs, nice homes, new automobiles and healthy, all-American families? How much faith do we exercise when we have more than enough in the bank, or at least coming in, to pay our bills and still be able to afford many of the wants we have as well?
Have these blessings become a detriment to our Christian walk? Have these things become excuses for not being busy about being a Christ-follower?
Maybe the economic crash and the violence we have seen portrayed on our TVs lately are God’s way of waking us up from our glutton-induced coma.
Maybe, just maybe, God is trying to tell us something. Maybe he is trying to remove the scales from our eyes.
Around the world, our brothers and sisters in Christ know very well what living by faith is all about. They live it everyday. They live by faith that they will have food to eat. They live by faith that God will protect them and their families from extremists, terrorists and militants. They live by faith knowing they may have to give their life in martyrdom for the sake of Christ.
While we, in the Christianized-west live slothful lives. Our faith amounts to our family’s clothes matching on Sunday morning. Our faith is that our sports team will win their game this weekend. Our faith is that we will be able to add even more to our 401k and retirement funds. Our faith is that all 300 channels will be HD and in working order, so we can record our shows on DVR. Our faith is that traffic will not be too bad on our way to work. Our faith is that the lines will not be too long at lunch.
Yes, I know there are rebuttals. I know there are those in our midst who know what it means to live by faith. I know there are those, though I fear they are few, who know what it means to take up a cross daily and follow Christ. But, it seems to me, that these are the exceptions and not the rule.
Then we wonder why God never seems to be doing anything in our midst. We wonder why we never experience the move and power of God in our church services or in our lives. We wonder why our Christianity is dull and boring and lifeless. We wonder why we get more enjoyment and satisfaction out of sports, entertainment and gossip than we do our faith.
Maybe Jesus is saying to us, those who have eyes to see, let them see. And those who have ears to hear, let them hear.
Maybe God is saying to us, Wake up!
Faith is not easy. Anyone who tells you differently is either trying to sell you some ocean front property in Arizona or is naive about the subject matter.
Living by faith is hard. It calls for complete sacrifice and surrender. It calls for a daily crucifixion. It calls for total obedience to Christ our King.
Is your faith bigger than your fear? Is your faith bigger than your doubts? Your worldview? Your dreams and aspirations? Your opinions and perspectives? Your wallet and savings account?
I fear the hour is late and the time is well past to be beyond such trivial things; but, alas, we are not.
But, if God is stirring it within you, then there is a start. I bet you are not the only one. What could God do with one or a few who were stirred up by his Spirit to live radically as Christ-followers?
Is your faith big enough to allow God to have that sort of control over you and your life? He is sovereign isn’t he? Should he not also be sovereign over you as well?
Maybe the reason our faith is so insignificant at times is because our understanding of God is so puny. If we do not have proper theology, i.e. a proper knowledge of who God is, then our faith will never be more than that.
It is my belief that a person’s faith can never be greater than their understanding of who God truly is. If their view of God is lacking and insufficient, then so too will be their faith. However, those who have a big God, so to speak, will have a faith to match. In short, your level of faith will be proportionate to your grasp of who God truly is.
If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all. (Is. 7. 9b)