A thought running through my mind for the past few months prompts me to ask, “Do Christians really live differently from non-Christians?” “Do we worry less?” “Do we love more?” “Do we take more risks?” “Do we cope better with uncertainty?”
I’m preaching a short series of sermons on the topic of FAITH. If we have spent a lot of time in church services or Bible classes I think we often lose sight of a particular element of our faith: “Faith requires uncertainty!”
If something is certain, proven, or obvious then it requires no faith. Evidence eliminates faith. Long-term Christians usually become so convicted of our beliefs that they no longer seem “uncertain”. In our minds our beliefs, initially accepted in faith, morph into certain facts. I don’t say this to criticise. In fact it’s healthy. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as “proof of things not seen.” (CEV)
When did you last stop and consider how many of the beliefs you build your life around and bank your eternity on are based upon faith. Consider the following points for which I suspect we either rely on logical conclusions, or straight out faith:
- The Bible is the inspired word of God. (Most arguments defending this are circumstantial. eg. how many early copies are preserved.)
- Jesus was born of a virgin. (Completely on faith. There’s absolutely no way of proving this.)
- The deity of Jesus. (CS Lewis’ classic argument that Jesus must either be a Liar, Lunatic, or Lord is completley a logical construct. Here’s a decent overview.)
- Jesus was resurrected from the dead. (One of the common “evidences” cites the life change of the apostles from hiding in an upper room, to publicly preaching the Gospel. Again, it’s persuasive logic rather than proof.)
Our natural inclination is to defend these beliefs and maybe feel a need to “prove” them. I suggest that instead we can embrace them as statements of faith. Yes, we possess persuasive rational reasons for accepting the truthfulness of these statements. We haven’t plucked them from thin air. But the catalyst turning them from possibilities into convictions is FAITH. Faith is our proof of things unseen.
If Christians so willingly build our lives around a set of uncertain beliefs, shouldn’t we also find ourselves better equipped to handle life’s uncertainties than those without faith?
Three times the New Testament writers quote Habakuk 2:4 (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38) “The righteous will live by faith.” I’m not even sure that each of these quotes uses the statement in the same way, but here’s a basic point. Faith should characterise our lives.
The same faith that can sit in a church pew and “Amen” a description of people walking on water or rising from the dead should also rise to the surface in the face of job loss or a health crisis. Faith should differentiate us.
Christians should be risk takers for God. As long as we make safe and comfortable decisions we’re not living by faith. We’re living by risk management.
Here’s my final question: Is your faith demonstrated by your actions, or merely defined by your beliefs? Is your faith limited to believing that Jesus and Peter really and literally walked on water? Or does your faith inspire you to take your own risky steps to spread the Gospel and bring glory to God?