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Some of my stories are published in:
A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009)
Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009)
Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010)
Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010)
Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011)
Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Faith in Faith, or Faith in Jesus?

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— and this is not from yourselves,  it is the gift of God,—not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians, 2:8, 9, NIV Bible))

I had a friend who frequently used to say: "I just gotta have enough faith,"
when referring to something she desperately wanted to happen...or not happen.
Usually it was about the health or safety of one of her family members.

My friend wasn't a Christian, so I'd ask her, "What do you have faith in?"
And she'd say, "Oh, just faith. If I have enough of it, bad things won't happen."

I think she thought that faith is a kind of mental energy which, when there's enough of it, can magically produce whatever you happen to envision.

But that sounds to me very much like magic.

Now, I'm all for keeping a positive attitude. You feel better and live life with more energy and optimism with a positive mental attitude.

But to have faith in faith itself is a whole different focus.

I tried to tell my friend that faith must have an object:
I have faith in the chair I'm sitting in, that it will not suddenly collapse.
I have faith that the sun will come up tomorrow.
I have faith that my heart will continue to beat, at least for the next minute or so.

But these attitudes of faith are based on strong evidence in the reliability of these objects.
The chair is sturdy and has always held me up in the past.
The sun has been coming up for as long as recorded history.
My heart is healthy and I'm not so very old.

My faith is based on an object, a glorious Object: Jesus Christ.
And my faith in Jesus is based on:
  • Archeological finds that support accounts from the Bible,
  •  Irrefutable historical acts, 
  • The testimony of eyewitnesses,
  • The transformation of cowardly men into men and women of such conviction that they were willing to die martyrs' death.
  • The power of the cross to change whole nations from death-dealing Vikings or Romans or Goths, etc. into peaceable and civilized societies.
  • Witnessing the transformational power of Jesus in others' lives.
  • Answered prayer.
  • My own experience.

Faith in faith means nothing.
It's like saying I have faith that "nothing" will protect my children or heal my husband.

When a Christian says, "I have faith," he/she is saying, "I have faith in God."
God has supplied the Believer with faith (saving faith and faith to continue to believe and trust and obey God).

It is not the faith in itself.
It is the faith in its Object: Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ brings about God's will.

And it is not the amount of faith.
For even when my faith was small as a baby Christian, God answered my prayers.
I did not ever have to summon enough faith based on the size of my request.
(A little faith for a small request, a large amount of faith for a biggie?)
No, it is just that my faith rested in Jesus.

It is easy to think that the size of my faith will move God.
But faith comes from God. (Eph. 2:8, 9)
It does not originate from me or you.
I cannot add to the faith God has given me by generating my own faith "energy."
That would be tantamount to saying: God plus me equals my desired outcome.

Perhaps this is why so many people put faith in faith itself (which then becomes a feckless idol); they do not want to risk that God will mess things up by providing the wrong answer.

Faith is not simply thinking good thoughts.
Faith is placing your trust in a loving God who has proven Himself reliable and good
over and over in both good and bad times.
And trusting that even if He does not answer the way you want, He is working a perfect outcome.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb. 12:2 NIV Bible)

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