Faith and Faithfulness
You gotta have faith!!! Faith is something absolutely essential to the Christian. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that we can’t please God if we don’t have faith. Simple isn’t it? You would think so, but in our age and time faith has become very controversial.
In recent decades we have seen what is known as “the faith movement” rise up in evangelical Christianity. The basic tenet of this theology is that faith does everything: it brings you prosperity, health, favor and any other blessing that the believer desires.
So what then is the controversy? It is whether having enough faith can give you all the above mentioned blessings or does one still experience pain, suffering, ill health even with a steadfast trust in the God one serves.
While this short article won’t answer all the nuances of this subject, let me share what I believe the Bible teaches about this important attribute of the Christian life.
As I stated in the opening paragraph it is without question one needs faith to live the Christian life. In almost every place in the Gospels, Jesus was ready to do miraculous things for the people as long they believed (have faith). In fact Jesus was limited in his home town of the amount of miracles he could do because of the lack of people’s faith (Matthew 13:58). So there is no doubt that faith is absolutely essential in the Christian life to see God do amazing things.
I am sure though you sense a however, and you would be right. The however is that people didn’t always get what they prayed and hoped for. When you go back to Hebrews 11 (also known as the faith chapter), you find something interesting at the end of the chapter (verses 32-39). There the writer talks about two groups of people. The first group (verses 33-35a) sees amazing things happen and received everything they asked for because of their faith. Then in mid sentence (verse 35) and to the end of verse 39 we have the second group who receive nothing that they prayed for. Yet God says very clearly that they received His approval for their faith.
So how are we to interpret this outcome of the two groups? I believe that God wants and yes even demands that we have faith, but in addition we are to be faithful regardless of the outcome. In essence we believe and pray for the miraculous, then live out our lives in simple trust that whether we get what we pray for or not, Father knows best.
When you go to the book of Daniel and see the fate awaiting Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to be thrown into the fiery furnace because they won’t worship Nebuchadnezzar’s image, you see faith and faithfulness played out simultaneously. In chapter 3:16-18 the three young Hebrews say, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty (faith). But even if he doesn’t, Your Majesty can be sure that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up” (faithfulness).
So yes, have all the faith you can get; confess your trust that God can do for you anything you desire. But also don’t get discouraged if the answer that you want doesn’t come. Resolve ahead of time that no matter what you will still be faithful. I know of no better way to live everyday in this life that God has given us.