I’m Not Impressed with Your Faith!

I woke up early this morning, when it was still dark. I quietly walked across the room, found the door, opened it and remembered Elaine telling me the hinges squeak. Walking softly doesn’t make much difference when the doors squeak, she’ll be sure to tell me again. My right hand skims across the surface of the dining room wall and stops at the feel of the light switch. The flip of the tan lever floods the room with light. From there on it’s all routine. Coffee. Devotions. Prayer. Then, an hour or so later, a cup of coffee, two ice cubes to cool it for Elaine. 

Going back for a second to that flipping of the switch. It’s such a simple routine, I thought little of it until today. Maybe because I was thinking about faith and how it’s so much like my trust in that switch. It’s an easy task, but one that comes with amazing response. If something was wrong with my house, with the wiring or with Hart Electric, our power provider, I would think about it. When something doesn’t work, you tend to notice it more. But I trust the system and design of this house. Rarely has Hart Electric disappointed us. This is not like a third world country where you can expect an outage several times a day. Those in such circumstances live with uncertain, wavering faith. Because of my faith in the construct of this home, from wiring to lightbulb,  and knowing the electric company is solid,  it takes little thought on my part to flip a switch and know the lights will come on. I never take credit for the light coming on because I did such a good job gliding my hand across the wall, and with great skill flipped that little lever. It has nothing to do with me, but everything to do with the object of my trust, the perfectly structured system and company that provides the electricity I need.

I get the impression, sometimes, the way faith is talked about, that we should be impressed with ourselves. Yet faith is nothing apart from a trustworthy Savior. Faith requires an object. A subject, and yes, he’s Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). An emphasis on our faith is always a misplaced emphasis. The more I trust Jesus, the more I believe in him, understand him and his claim and work, the more my faith in him grows, requiring little effort or thought. It’s a given.  That is really solid faith, because Jesus is so worthy of trust. When Jesus commended the centurion’s faith whose servant was sick, the emphasis was not really on the man’s faith, but on his confidence in Jesus and his ability alone to heal the ailing servant. When pastors preach on this story, I tense up when the focus is on the centurion’s faith, not on the object of his faith. When Jesus said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith,” (Luke 7:9) you have to ask, faith in what? When we boast about our faith, or someone else’s faith, that question is necessary. Faith in what? Someone we know might have GREAT faith, or BIG faith, but in what? Is his faith great, or is the person he places his faith in great, so trustworthy, so competent to deliver, because of that he’ll risk everything for him. Is it ever right to be impressed with someone’s faith?

Any story about faith in the Bible is about Jesus.

Imagine sitting in an airplane, your seatbelt securely fastened, and the flight attendant says something like this, “We’re sorry ladies and gentlemen. We are unable to take off today because some of you don’t have faith in this airplane. Two of you in this plane don’t trust our pilot, and five of you are afraid of flying, and until that changes, well, we’ll have to sit here on the tarmac.” Our trust and confidence in the pilot and the airplane makes no difference in whether that plane will fly. It might determine your anxiety level, but not the performance of the plane. The plane doing what we assume it will do doesn’t depend on our faith.

I lived for five years three miles from Lake Michigan in Cedarburg, WI where most winters, the lake’s edges would freeze. Had I decided to walk on the ice, a lot of faith would’ve made no difference were the ice thin. Conversely, a little faith would’ve mattered little if the ice were one foot thick.

It’s never about my faith. It’s about the thickness of the ice.

Spiritually, it’s always about the object of my faith … Jesus.

I struggle a lot with faith, but in the end it’s my confidence in Jesus that lands me in a good place. When my two sons suffered through cancer, mustering up enough faith wore me out. Eventually, I gave up and ended up collapsing on the Rock himself. I found him to be so worthy, so faithful, so good and kind. Often, still, I grasp through the dark, find a wall and with little strength my fingers find a verse or two that remind me that he is reliable. The room of my heart lights up with the love of my savior.

Next time someone talks to you about your faith, or theirs, ask them, “Faith in what?” Then the conversation can go to talking about Jesus, not you and your faith. The more you know Jesus and what he came to do for you in forgiving you of your sins and promising you eternal life, faith will be a no-brainer reality. It will be as simple as flipping a switch and seeing your life illuminated by the reality of the gospel.

When I think of CH Spurgeon, the 19th century Prince-of-Preachers, I think less about his faith in Jesus and more about his descriptions of his wonderful savior. Spurgeon, during his last sermon before dying, did not talk about his rich faith, but rather, he talked about the one in whom he’d placed his entire life and trust. Here is what he said about Jesus on June 7, 1891:

“Those who have no master are slaves to themselves. Depend upon it, you will either serve Satan or Christ, either self or the Saviour. You will find sin, self, Satan, and the world to be hard masters; but if you wear the livery of Christ, you will find him so meek and lowly of heart that you will find rest unto your souls. He is the most magnanimous of captains.

“There never was his like among the choicest of princes. He is always to be found in the thickest part of the battle. When the wind blows cold he always takes the bleak side of the hill. The heaviest end of the cross lies ever on his shoulders. If he bids us carry a burden, he carries it also. If there is anything that is gracious, generous, kind, and tender, yea lavish and superabundant in love, you always find it in him. These 40 years and more have I served him, blessed be his name! and I have had nothing but love from him. I would be glad to continue yet another 40 years in the same dear service here below if so it pleased him. His service is life, peace, joy. Oh, that you would enter on it at once! God help you to enlist under the banner of Jesus even this day! Amen.”

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