Monday, May 06, 2019

Faith, Hope, or Just Plain Luck? - What Is Faith?

Have you ever heard someone use the word faith? Just what does that mean and what's the difference between faith, hope, and just plain old luck?
I was taught as a young Christian to pray. Go ahead and ask God for what you want. After all, God answers prayer. Like so many others I'd pray and nothing seemed to happen. So I thought there must be some secrets to this prayer stuff and discovered there was no lack of books, sermons, tapes and CD's available for a fee that would teach me the secrets of prayer.
Then came Christian TV - wow! I learned if I had enough faith I could get God to do just about anything. At least that's what I thought I heard.
So I squinted my eyes, really focused hard, buttered up God with some big time affirmation and praise, and started speaking with an extra a added to the end of my words; we've all heard those kinds of preachers.
Then I got involved with the "signs and wonders" movement and some faith healers. I loved being a part of the miracles but I heard some terribly abusive excuses when healing didn't take place. "Well you just didn't have enough faith!" was shackled on the spirits of the already tired, beat-up, and ill souls that left without healing.
But there was that word again - "faith"
What is faith and how does it work?
I started to wonder what is faith and how does this faith thing work anyway? How is faith different from hope or trust?
I listened to a preaching series on faith from Andy Stanley that had a great impact on my thinking. Most people base their faith on their ability to see something impacting the circumstances of their lives.
Baseball players have faith that if they don't shave they will continue to win games... because that's what they are seeing in their lives. But as soon as they lose one or two games that faith goes out the window.
Unfortunately, a lot of religious people base their faith on the same dynamic. They have faith in their belief system because they can see God working in their life.
But what happens when life moves the wrong direction? They can't see whatever they believe in really impacting their circumstances? They tend to lose faith too and put their belief system on a shelf. They no longer believe they can trust their religious system or that there is some understandable cause and effect relationship between them and God.
Circumstantial Faith
That's when faith moves to Circumstantial Faith based on our ability to see, feel, or sense God in the midst of our circumstances and thus understand life.
Circumstantial Faith produces all kinds of problems as it lends itself to situational ethics. Pretty soon life choices begin to impact our faith. As a young person we have faith in God and are educated in what to do and what not to do. We believe in an absolute right and wrong. But then... things change as we get older.
We believed it was wrong to have premarital sex but as we mature we are enticed with others. As we share our beliefs we get ridiculed. Then comes that special someone into our life and since few of our peers hold our beliefs, we begin to doubt them ourselves. Sure would be nice to... and we give in and change our behavior.
With that behavior change we must change our beliefs. That's right, our behavior changes and then we change our beliefs. Our faith is challenged or dampened a bit because it all started with Circumstantial Faith. Circumstantial Faith becomes very inconvenient at times.
But faith isn't suppose to be circumstantial; faith is beyond circumstantial! A Christian's faith isn't in a God who will make life easy, right, comfortable, or understandable. A Christian's faith is in the person of Jesus Christ.
  • That He is who He says He is - the son of God.
  • And as such, He can do what He promises to do.
Faith is the ability to believe in those two things no matter what is happening in our life. No matter the circumstances. No matter what!

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