Hi Gentle Reader,
There are so many bloggers out there now with so much good stuff to say that I think I must give some justification for my existence in the blogosphere. In short, I am convinced that we need a dose of faith in our modern, cynical, enlightened lives. Faith does not come naturally. It needs to be tended and watered — so it is my hope to feed that need for faith in our time here under the sun.
I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!
Faith has gotten a bad rap. The ‘faith movement’ took a foundational truth and tainted it for all of us by turning faith into a way to manipulate God to get what we want. This is twisted on many levels. But what if we return to faith in its true sense, as God intended it to work in our lives? Faith is what got us started in the Christian life in the first place, and it is what will get us through, start to finish. This faith doesn’t come from us, we can’t make it happen, but when it happens, it becomes our life, we own it, cling to it. It is our life, and we walk every day in the power of it, or we die. Unbelief is our enemy, and we are tempted to it constantly. The promises of God are so out-there, they defy belief. We are trained to think that if something looks too good to be true, there is a catch somewhere, and usually that is true. But what if we approach the Christian life in faith, believing in the only sure thing there is in this crazy world? What if our kneejerk response to everything in our experience or in scripture becomes “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief”? Then I think we would get an inkling of what it is to ‘live by faith’ and ‘walk by faith.’
An attitude of unbelief is crippling in a Christian and can be a sign of a serious problem. Unbelief is called ‘evil’ (Heb. 3:12) not just ‘weak.’ If we constantly hear what God says and respond with ‘but I just can’t believe…’ there is an element of stubborn rebellion, not just weakness and inability. It is not humble to doubt God’s word; it is downright proud to think we know better. When the God of the universe speaks, who are we to doubt? Yes, there may be an incredulousness that comes over us when we hear that this God of the universe in fact loves us, knows everything about us, and died for us. Stunned silence is a proper response to such incredible news. But incredulousness should not be the thin edge of the wedge that leads us to entertain the possibility that our doubts are the reality. We must suspend disbelief and admit that even though we can’t comprehend it, what God says is true and demands our love and obedience and worship.
For a long time, I have been taken with Augustine’s motto, faith seeking understanding. In our skeptical age, we don’t find it easy or natural to come to any situation with implicit trust. We come with our defenses up, ready to ward off any deceptively attractive offers. We won’t believe unless we understand and are completely convinced in our own minds. This is where the gospel is so opposed to our natural bent. The gospel isn’t a contract we read carefully, consult our lawyer about, and then sign with full knowledge and consent. The gospel makes no sense to any of us until the Holy Spirit moves in our hearts and gives us faith to believe without understanding or even knowing any of the details. We are saved ‘by grace through faith,’ and this is probably the first time that we feel those defenses come down. We believe — we don’t know why — in something that makes no sense, but now it makes perfect sense somehow on a totally different level. We have entered into a completely different realm and find ourselves governed by a new reality where faith must come first or there will be no understanding. Waiting to understand will get us nowhere, but faith and trust lead us to the truth.
We can never forget just how amazing our faith is. Salvation is all God’s work — He chooses us, redeems us by His own blood, and applies forgiveness and all His benefits to us by freely giving us the gift of faith. ‘The just shall live by faith.’ Our faith gives us entrance into this ‘grace in which we now stand.’ We were enemies of God, incapable of seeking Him in any way, and yet He has given us the ability to do what we could never have done in ourselves. And it doesn’t stop there. Faith continues to carry us through this new life we have in Him. Now we ‘walk by faith.’ It is the air we breathe, and every day we now walk in the same power that enabled us to believe in the first place.