Just Whose Faith Do You Think You Have Anyway?
Here's an honest exposé of my inner struggle with the nature of faith in God and the mixed witness of centuries of Christendom.
There are times, I must admit, when I wonder if I’m losing my faith in God. Oh, I don’t mean in an overall religious sense. I’m not referring to a serious crisis of theology. I’m talking about those times of questioning, questioning if you still have a heartfelt, personal trust in the Almighty…that He is looking out for you, helping you. Questioning that whole “He has a plan for your life” deal that you might have heard in pop religious culture.
But then, after I’ve thought about it some more, I think maybe I’m not losing my faith in God after all. Maybe I’m losing my faith in the Bible. Yeah, that’s it. How can we really know that it’s the “Word of God” — an infallible and worthy source of all meaningful knowledge of the Divine?
But then I pick up the Bible and start to read a beautiful psalm or proverb, or a stirring account of the 1st-century Apostles, or an amazing tale of Jewish refugees returning from Babylon back to their home country to rebuild the ruins of a holy city, and I feel my spirit refreshed and inspired.
That leads me to conclude I’m not losing my faith in the veracity of the Bible, but rather that I’m losing my faith in Christians…the way so many so-called believers have used scriptures over the centuries to justify what seems to be cruel or abusive ends. Torture, genocide, political posturing, racism, domestic violence; the list is long and disturbing. It is particularly strange that those who profess to know Jesus could engage in such behavior when Jesus Himself was abused and tortured, not to mention His entire ministry was dedicated to helping those who were oppressed and subjugated.
After pondering this sad state of affairs, I start to wonder why God would allow people to commit all kinds of ridiculous or destructive acts in His name. Doesn’t it bother Him that bad actors put a Christian label on evil and wrong purposes? Doesn’t He feel obliged to step in when people turn away from the Christian faith specifically because of the hypocrisy and scandal they see? Now if I think about that too much, I start to wonder if I’m losing my faith in God, and the whole cycle repeats itself once again.
But maybe that’s the wrong way to go about this whole thinking business. Maybe we should worry less about our faith in God and in other people’s faith (or lack thereof), and instead pause to consider God’s faith in us. Yes, it’s true that in the Bible it says that without faith it is impossible to please Him. But have you ever stopped to think about where that faith comes from? After all, the Word also says that Jesus Christ is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Faithfulness itself is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, implying that it is a gift that we receive from God, not something that we produce for God.
What’s really going to bake your noodle is, even if you’re certain you have faith in God, the truth is that faith originally comes from God in the first place! Thus the true mystery of life unfolds…
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights…”
“Apart from Me, you can do nothing…”
…even have faith in God.
Do you trust God? Do you? Do I? I may not always be able to say that I do in an emotional or logical sense, but what I can say is that every time I’ve come before the Lord, with an open and broken heart, and asked Him to do for me what I cannot do for myself, I regain the strength and the dedication to continue on; to continue to Love, to continue to do the Right Thing in the midst of trying circumstances, to continue to reach my hand out in friendship to those who need a friend, and to continue to pray that all those who are hurting and desparate in this world will feel the soothing presence of an Almighty God who loves them, passionately. That they will come to understand, as I have, that all good and perfect things in life are precious gifts given to us freely by our Heavenly Father.
When I think about that, I feel a whole lot better.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. I don’t know why many people who claim to be Christians do bad things. However, the more I’m honest with myself, the more I come to realize that I’m a Christian who does bad things. I need grace and forgiveness as much as the next man. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”
And with that, I left my rock on the ground….