Tagged: fear

Trusting Faith

Faith Unshackled 01

Words do not stay the same. The definition or influence of a word can change over time. Sometimes they are overused and lose their power. Words that were once quite meaningful can become meaningless. Christianity is a religion that relies on certain words. The Bible is a story, and you cannot tell a story without words. Some of these words are essential to Christianity, and yet Christianity is a religion that has been around for many, many years. Christians have clung to important words while also dealing with an ever-changing world where the meaning of words can change.

Faith is one of the most significant words belonging to Christianity, but what does it mean? Over the years, many have equated it with belief. For these individuals, faith is the same as mental assent, but I believe a careful reading of the Bible will prove this definition to be inadequate. Certainly, belief is an element of faith, but it goes deeper than what a person may hold to be true.

Several times in the Gospel of Mark, faith is contrasted with fear (Mark 5:36). One of the most famous stories where this occurs is when Jesus calms a storm (Mark 4:35-41). You can imagine how frightening it would be to be on a small boat in the middle of a lake during a storm. Your boat could be capsized by the wind and waves. You would be susceptible to lightning strikes. You would essentially be helpless until you could reach shore. This is the situation that the disciples found themselves in. They were scared, and through it all Jesus slept. Finally, they decide to wake him. He calms the storm, and then says, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” (Mark 4:40).

hands 01If faith were merely belief, then fear would have no power over it. It’s possible to believe and at the same time be afraid. Faith is more closely related to trust. When we trust, fear goes away. This is what Jesus was looking for in the boat. The disciples were believers, but they did not have trusting faith. If they would have had faith in Jesus, then they would not have been afraid.

The contrast between faith and fear that Mark provides is helpful in evaluating our level of faith. It might be difficult for some to gauge their commitment to God adequately.  We are great at critiquing others and not so great at self-criticism. However, if we think of fear as the opposite of faith, then it is much easier to identify areas where we are afraid. Wherever we find fear, we will likely also find a lack of faith. If we fear the political future of America, then we need to trust that God is sovereign over all. If we fear our neighbors who do not look like us, then we need to seek to love them all the more while trusting that God has created all people in his image. If we fear what will happen to the economy or where our next check will come from, then we need to trust that God will provide.

Radical faith is when we put our trust in God even when the future seems uncertain. We see this in story after story in the Bible beginning with Abraham. What we discover from Scripture is that God is always faithful. It would be difficult to trust in a chair that looks weak and fragile, and that has never been set in by you or someone you know. There would be no reason to trust the chair. However, if you saw a big sturdy chair that always provided a safe and secure seat for anyone who rested in it, then you would have no problem trusting the chair. God gives us every reason to trust him. We can always depend on God.

sound-waves 01a06 - Scott Elliot picScott Elliott is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and Austin Graduate School of Theology. He lives in La Grange, TX and is the minister for the La Grange Church of Christ. He is married and has two sons. He enjoys writing about the Christian faith and posting the occasional film review. His articles and reviews have appeared in RELEVANT magazine, Englewood Review of Books, and other publications. You can find regular blog posts on the Start2Finish platform HERE.


Matthew 28: Resurrection

  • Read Matthew 28 here.
  • If you missed Sunday’s sermon (24 April), you can listen to it here.

RESURRECTION! What wonderful thought.  That single word turns death into life, it brings light to darkness, it grasps victory from defeat and transforms despair into hope. RESURRECTION!

At the moment of Jesus’ death, his disciples, who had earlier pledged to leave their homes, their businesses, and their families to follow Jesus, now leave him… hanging on a cross.  The emotional and actual darkness of Friday not only sucked the life out of Jesus, it sucked the life out of his movement, and out of his teaching.  From the disciples perspective,hHis years of ministry, his miracles, his healings, his tenderness, his compassion, his vision for the earth, all died with him there on the cross.

That’s why RESURRECTION is a wonderful word.  Resurrection embraces the despair and pain of the cross, but it moves us beyond the cross.  It moves us beyond death.  It moves us beyond sin.  It moves us even beyond forgiveness.  Resurrection carries us to life, to eternity, and even into the presence of God.

At the core of the kingdom of heaven, we don’t find death, even Christ’s death, but life.  Acts 4:33 summarizes the apostles’ message and the resurrection is front and centre, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus “.  Again in Acts 17:18 Paul’s is described as “preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.”  As citizens of the kingdom of heaven we’re called to live our lives with a resurrection perspective.

So what does it mean to live with a resurrection perspective?  I love the description Matthew gives in 28:8) of the women who found the empty tomb and who spoke with the angel.  They hurried away from the tomb afraid, yet filled with joy.  They weren’t detached from reality.  They felt fear.  They felt uncertainty.  But their outlook on life was not one that ended in suffering and death.  They had a new outlook.  A perspective that lifted their vision above their current circumstances to a glimpse of eternity: A glimpse that brought them joy.

  • When you think about the Gospel message, how important is Jesus resurrection in your mind?
  • Does the cross, or the empty tomb provide the greatest motivation for you in your Christian walk?
  • The phrase, “Afraid, yet filled with joy.” really stuck in my mind. Can you relate it to your life in the Kingdom?