I believe in God. Really, I do. I believe that He exists and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. I believe that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, that 2,000 years ago He walked this earth and died an excruciating death on the cross as a substitute for my sins. I believe that His tomb is empty, that He rose again on the third day, destroying the power of sin and freeing its captives. I believe that after I pass from this earth I’ll be immediately translated to heaven where I’ll spend all eternity in His presence.
The reality of the cross as my source of moral righteousness has permeated almost every nook and cranny of my heart. When I do sin, I’ve learned to go directly to God to confess my sins and find restoration. Rarely do I run from God or suffer under the weight of condemnation; instead I rest in God’s grace, fully realizing that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. These truths are essential to the Christian life, but despite their importance, they don’t form the sum total of all that’s involved in walking with our Creator.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the multi-faceted grace of God, explaining how various expressions of grace empower us for different tasks in our service to the King. But if grace is multi-faceted, it stands to reason that faith has varied expressions as well. God-confidence in one area of life is no guarantee that we’ll be strong in every expression of our faith.
There are days when I have difficulty freely giving of myself because I’m not quite sure that God will take care of me without that extra $25 in my wallet. All too often I get anxious about my schedule. And, unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for me to find myself comparing myself to others in an effort to measure up to certain expected standards. Still, I believe. Really, I do.
I have a friend with an amazing gift of faith to believe for financial provision. I know few people as generous. At the same time, he struggles desperately to trust God for the restoration of broken relationships. His faith is rock-solid in one area, while quite weak in the other.
Understanding this type of variance will go a long way in helping us to live out the Gospel on a daily basis.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” Romans 1:16-17 (NASB)
In all likelihood, Paul is referring here to the growth and perfection of our faith for the sake of trusting God for our eternal salvation; however, it’s quite possible that he also had various expressions of faith in mind. In other words, God’s strong and ever-present desire is for us to go from weak to strong in faith for righteousness, faith for provision, faith for identity, faith for healing, etc.
A one-dimensional view of faith does as much damage as a one-dimensional view of grace. Week after week we preach a message of salvation, breathing a collective sigh of relief when our loved ones have finally been caught and are resting safely in God’s fishing creel. The result is that we put little focus on the development and perfection of faith in other essential areas of life. All of this serves to make Christianity both boring and irrelevant to those who live in a very real world, facing very real day to day challenges. If our goal is to develop spiritually immature Christians, we can be sure that such a one-dimensional approach to faith/grace will put us on the fast track to zero growth.
Recently I came to the realization that I had allowed a number of past disappointments to undermine my trust in my heavenly Father. It’s difficult to explain, except perhaps to say that it’s like trying to run in faith with a spiritual limp. It hasn’t stopped me from moving forward, but I long to run after God free from any hindrance whatsoever.
As we’ll see in coming posts, various expressions of faith really do matter, and working through these types of issues requires thoughtful and honest prayer–something more than some type of faith formula that can be indiscriminately spread like butter over any area of life.
Lord, I believe. Really, I do. Please help my unbelief!