This post is the last in a three part series on the nature of faith. So if you haven’t read my first two entries, give them a look. In total I’ve given you fifteen reasons that faith is so important. But let’s be honest, who wants fifteen reasons for anything? I certainly don’t.
So that’s why we broke the discussion into three segments of five. In part one, I defined what faith is. I hope that, among other things, I cleared up some misconceptions and offered some encouragement where necessary. Part two was targeted at those who might have little or no faith in hopes that people might give it a try. So as we wrap up the discussion I thought I’d offer some encouragement to those of us who already believe, to the faithful … even if your faith is small. I’d like to tell you why you believe or maybe why you have more faith than you think you do. May the words that follow offer you new insight or fresh perspective into some of the great things you will continue to experience in your real, vibrant and incredible journey with your Maker.
1. FAVOR: Your faith is a gift from your Father
Faith is often looked at as the activity of the human heart and this is true. In fact, faith is ultimately what God requires of us. He doesn’t want our mighty works, big buildings, lots of money or even nice new clothes. He wants your heart. That’s what he once said about King David in the Bible who was a young man at the time and not kingly by any earthly standards. He said, “Man looks at outward appearance but God looks at the heart.”[i] What often goes overlooked when it comes to faith, however, is that faith isn’t something we can conjure up on our own. Yes, in a way, it’s the flexing of our spiritual muscle. But the ability to flex our soul is only something God can produce in us. In other words, faith is God’s gift. It’s God’s favor in your life. So if you have faith, it’s reason for encouragement.
Thus far I’ve shared little bits about my own faith journey. On more than one occasion, I’ve explained that at the end of the day there isn’t necessarily a rational reason for your faith. Sure we can point to logical reasons that we believe. But those same reasons are available for everyone and clearly everyone doesn’t believe. Therefore, true faith has to be more than that. And I think those of you who believe know what I’m talking about. My faith, for example, can’t be explained by my knowledge of the world or by some external proof from empirical science. It’s more complex. I believe because of those things in part, maybe. But I also believe because of the life experiences I’ve had and maybe also because of the culture I was born into. In short, I believe because I think that someone beyond myself worked in my life to cause, create and actualize my soul to see the world in a different way. This is what the Bible says about faith by the way. The Bible says that faith is God’s gift and the result of a spiritual rebirth in our hearts.[ii] So if you have faith today know that your faith is not of your own doing. It comes from somewhere else. It comes from your great Heavenly Father who blesses you with good things.
2. ANATOMY: Your faith placed you into a believing community
Can you think of a part of the human body that isn’t important? What about ear lobes? Maybe God had piercing in mind when he created us, I don’t know. It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility. But regardless of your take on that, think about the fact that every part of your body is connected to you. If you think something isn’t important try removing it. Ouch, right!? The point is, every part of you is important. Your faith works the same way. In several of his letters, Paul explained this. He said that through faith, we are actually individual parts of Jesus’ body which is the church.[iii] So if you believe, then you are a part of something bigger than yourself. By this I mean you are part of a faith-based community. And those other parts of your body (your faith-filled friends) are just as important as you are. In fact, you actually rub off on one another. You depend on one another and you make each other better. Whether you’ve thought about it or not, they are a big reason your faith is as strong as it is. Whether you’re a powerful bicep holding others up or you’re just a tiny ear lobe that’s hanging on for dear life, you all make one another better at flexing your spiritual muscles and more acceptable to God as a result.
3. INCREDIBLE: Your faith Is the most powerful force in the world
I’ve always wondered why they give certain adjectives to superheroes. There’s the “Amazing” Spider-Man and the “Uncanny” X-Men. Apparently Stan Lee (the creator of those characters) just felt like his heroes needed a little explanation. Regardless I think the adjectives generally fit the characters. “Incredible” certainly describes the Hulk. His power is “beyond belief” and, ironically, both he and his adjective make a great illustration of our own faith.
This might seem contradictory, you know … saying that faith is “beyond belief” (incredible). It kind of sounds like I’m saying that faith is beyond itself. But it’s true! Our faith really is incredible. Faith is unbelievable in terms of what it can accomplish. It’s like the Hulk. It’s inhumanly strong, even in little increments. That’s what Jesus said. It only takes the faith of a mustard seed to produce something much larger.[iv] Your faith is invincible. It will accomplish the purpose for which God intended it on this earth and afterwards. So the Hulk-like nature of your faith is also another reason you believe. Even if you seem like you’re hanging on by a thread, you still haven’t given up. Your faith will see you through. It really will!
4. TALENT: Your faith moves forward
In addition to other things, faith is also forward moving. In other words, it produces things. You don’t have to look any further than the plethora of charities existing within our culture. Among other things they show the drive of people to give to a greater cause. We want to help others and our faith causes us to contribute or to use our talents for good. Jesus told a story about this, though he used the word “talent” in a slightly different sense. In Matthew’s Gospel, he told the story of a master who gave bags of gold (“talents” in Old English) to three different men. Two of the men invested their gifts and grew what they had been given. They were the good and “faithful” servants. The bad guy hid his gold in the ground, didn’t use it, and only gave back to the master that which the master had given him in the first place. In other words, this servant wasn’t fruitful with his gift. Among other things, the parable speaks to the nature of kingdom growth. The faithful servants used their abilities to contribute to a greater cause. Your faith compels you to do the same thing. Maybe you give financially to your church or a charity. Maybe you invest in those around you with your time. Maybe you’re a teacher or maybe you serve your community in some way. Have you ever thought that you’re doing that because of something that is at work on the inside of you? That internal force is your faith. It’s your spiritual talent, your gift that God is using as a force for good in the world.
5. HOME: Your faith is the framework of your soul
Well that’s it … almost. What new insight have you gained about faith during our conversations? Of all the reasons I given you to believe, the one that I hope you pick up on the most is this idea: Faith is the framework of your soul. It’s the most natural place for you to be. If faith were a physical structure it would be your house, your home. It’s where you belong. Doubt and disbelief only produce fear and frustration. Faith, however, is your heart’s true home. Faith is full of life. It’s a place to lay your head at the end of the night. In faith, there’s a large space for recreation and play. There’s a kitchen filled with your favorite foods. There are pictures on the walls that tell you about who you are. There are even other family members there. You’re not alone. In faith, you’ve got comfort, love and support. You have everything you need and that is most importantly why you believe. You believe because that’s the space where you feel the most whole.
What are your thoughts on the things we’ve talked about? Do you look at faith any differently? It’s my hope that everyone will give faith a chance. If you are a believer, it’s my prayer that you’ve seen the powerful force that is at work on the inside. God’s Spirit produces faith in you and that’s reason for both encouragement and reproduction. In other words, what can you do with your faith? How can you bless others? When you get a chance write down one new insight you’ve gained and one way you can use it to bless someone else in the near future. God bless and stay faithful!
[i] 1 Samuel 16:7
[ii] Paul wrote in Romans 10:17 that, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” In other words, God’s message impacts our hearts and gives us the ability to have faith. Often in the Bible, faith is compared to physical senses like sight and hearing. Without spiritual life or rebirth, we are not alive towards God and can’t “see” or “hear” him with our hearts. This is the same thing Jesus talked to Nicodemas about in John 3:3 when he said, “You must be born again.” God’s Spirit changes our hearts and allows us to become “alive” on the inside, having spiritual senses that express faith in our Creator.
[iii] 1 Corinthians 12:7
[iv] Matthew 17:20