Making Decisions from Faith
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Faith is a pretty big deal. Scripture is clear that it is our faith that brings us to God in the first place and it is that same faith in Jesus Christ that leads to our salvation. It's also clear, as the above Scripture from Hebrews says, that without faith it is impossible to please God.
Jesus, in another lesson to His disciples, clearly related the power of faith. Even a little bit of faith can move mountains.
And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen.
So faith is empowering, faith endears us to God, faith is essential to what we believe… so are we actually living our lives according to this faith? The reason I ask this is not to make some sort of dull theological point or intellectual reasoning, but because I've come to a painful realization. My life and my actions don't point towards the existence of great faith. In fact, it would seem to me that a good chunk of the church's actions and lives don't point towards the existence of great faith.
Growing up within the church, I could recite by heart Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen", yet I had no idea what faith actually was or what this actually meant. Through a lot of wrestling I've come up with a better idea of what this actually means. Faith is a belief and a conviction that God actually is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He's going to do. It's what you actually believe deep within your heart about the character and nature of God. That belief is then practically lived out. Your actions and the words that you speak accurately reflect what your beliefs (your faith) are.
The problem is that I see within myself a lot of intellectual assent as to who God is, but not a lot of conviction. For example, I believe that God loves me. But if I'm really honest, I would say that I struggle with believing that God really loves me. The reason why I struggle is not from any flaw on God's part, it's because my experience with other people and with various things that happened to me growing up gave me a core belief that I'm not really lovable. I've realized, through an ongoing relationship with Jesus, that this is a lie that I've believed… but recognizing something is a lie and getting rid of it for the truth are two separate things. So here I have a little faith to believe that Jesus loves me, but I'm not actually living entirely as if I'm passionately loved and pursued by the most powerful and holy being ever to exist.
You see, if we actually believed how radically good God is… if we actually believed in how radically God wants to transform us and use us to transform the world, we would. If we really believed that Jesus is all-powerful and hates all sickness and disease, we'd be engaging with Him about how to eradicate this virus that has changed our society. If we really believed how much God loves people (so much so that He sent His own Son to die for them), we'd be out there demonstrating that love as much as we can. We'd be more concerned about what God wants than what's going on in our culture or what other people think.
But clearly, there are other voices that are louder than my faith. There are thousands of tiny thoughts and concerns that erode my faith. There's a culture that's very aware of the power of COVID and is letting this pandemic run our lives. There's fear over children going back to school. There's fear over people with different opinions than me and how they'll respond to whatever I say. There's a feeling of personal inadequacy and a desire for someone else to step up.
I've come to the realization that I need to stop letting other outside influences dictate how I run my life and instead I need to live by my faith. I have to choose to act based on what I believe to be true, not based on those other voices of fear and doubt. That doesn't mean that I blindly go against what the culture is saying, it just means my reasoning is different. For instance, when I think about whether our church should meet together again in person, my thinking has to be full of what God thinks about the church. It has to represent Jesus' respect and honour for those who govern over us and the rules of the land. It has to consider what the church is and why we would meet. My thinking cannot be concerned with fear of what other people think about a church meeting, or fear of if we had a COVID breakout in one of the meetings. We absolutely need to be wise, but our faith needs to drive the discussion, not our fears. This still doesn't always make the decision clear, but it empowers life and pleases God. How we think about these things is more important than the end decision, because either our thinking will have faith and be pleasing to God… or it won't.
So what is empowering your decisions and thoughts today? Is it faith in a good God or fear of what is going on around you? Are you actually believing in the power of what God wants to do during this season, or are you alone and feeling powerless? We have a unique opportunity to grow our faith during this season and demonstrate to others what a life centered on faith in God actually looks like. Are you up for the challenge?