Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Our Faithless Lives

If you ask the average person whether or not they have faith, many would say they do. This leads to the obvious question, "In whom or in what have you put your faith?" People have faith in a lot of things. Some have faith in a "higher power", others have faith in Jesus, while some have faith in other gods or even themselves. But what does it really mean to be a man or woman of faith?

While many of us would claim to be people of faith, the reality is that it takes very little faith for us to live in America. In fact, there was a point in my life when I realized that the way I was living and the things I was doing, didn't require much faith at all. And at that time, I was a staff pastor at a large church!

What does it really mean for a person to have faith in Jesus? We have faith in Christ for our salvation, which is important, but does our faith go beyond that? Paul said in Galatians 3:11 "Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, “The righteous will live by faith.”" It is clear that we are justified by our faith, but that verse says "The righteous will live by faith."

Here is a good question to ask yourself, "Am I currently living by faith? This is a question that I try to ask myself on a regular basis. Does the way that I live my life require any faith on my part? Or is my life structured in such a way that I can pretty much do it on my own?

Think about your life. In what or in whom have you placed your faith? Are you currently living by faith or does your faith have to do with a decision that you made, possibly many years ago?

I recently went to Guatemala with a group of guys. While there, we met a woman named Maria who was suffering from a debilitating disease that had left her with stroke like symptoms. As we talked to her, we realized that she could not afford proper medical treatment. In fact, she couldn't even afford to pay for the bus ride to get to the clinic. All she could do was pray. After hearing her story, we joined our faith with hers and asked God to heal her and bring her a miracle.

The situation weighed heavy on our hearts and we started trying to figure out how we could help her get the treatment that she needed. You might think that it would be easy for everyone to just pitch in money and make it happen. The only problem is that this is just one of many situations that you encounter while on a trip like this. However, we all felt we should help in some way and we all continued to pray.

The next day we woke up to some incredible news. Chris, our missionary friend and host, had received an email in the middle of the night. The person indicated that they felt like God was leading them to give a financial gift, specifically for someone with a medical need. Of course, the first person we all thought of was Maria.

God had heard the cry of Maria's heart and in His infinite wisdom, He brought a group of guys to her house that day. As we heard her story and prayed for her, God kept her at the forefront of our minds. God then prompted someone thousands of miles away to give a gift to "someone with a medical need." There was no question that in that moment God had heard our prayers and answered in a way that only He could.

Sometimes God will work a miracle that defies the laws of nature, other times He uses people like us to provide that miracle for someone in need. However, we need to be people who believe. Not just people who believe that one day we will spend eternity with God because we have faith in Jesus. We need to be people who believe God in the here and now.

Paul said "the righteous will live by faith." This leads me to believe that these should not be isolated incidents that we only experience while on mission trips. I think God wants us to be people who live by faith in our everyday lives, believing Him to do the unexpected and even the impossible.

So what exactly is faith? The writer of Hebrews put it this way, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for." (Hebrews 11:1-2)

Are you sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see? Do you believe that Jesus not only died for your sin, but that He rose and lives today, sitting at the right hand of the Father, continually making intercession for those who follow Him? If your answer is "yes", then will you begin to believe for more than a future life with Him, in a future place beyond this world?

Living by faith has to do with the here and now. We should be people who believe that God is in our midst, just waiting for us to call on Him and exercise our faith in Him. We are the ones who believe in The One who can do the impossible and change any circumstance, no matter how dark or bleak it may seem.

I know that for most of us, we can make it for a long time without exercising much faith at all. However there is a world out there that is in desperate need. There are people who cannot put food on the table and others who have no way of getting even basic medical treatment. And we all know people, some even in our own families, who are struggling and find themselves in situations that seem hopeless.

I believe that God desires to bring hope and healing to this broken world that we live in. I also believe that He has chosen people like me and you to accomplish these purposes. Those of us who have faith in Christ, believe in the God of all hope. Our faith must go beyond the salvation of our souls. We are to be those who live by faith in this world. This means that we should interact with God on a daily basis, believing for the impossible.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

What do you hope for? What are you certain of?

One thing that I am certain of, is that God is love and that He desires that all men and women come to faith in Christ. Therefore it's my hope that we join God in what He is doing to show this love to those who are in such desperate need.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13