I caught up with a friend over our favorite meal, and we shared the last few months of our lives. Both of us are working, one starting a degree while another finishing, and our families are doing fine. In passing, she mentioned a deep shadow in her experience that was beginning to lift. I asked her the cause of the shadow. She paused. “I think I just don’t have enough faith."
Faith is an entry-level Christian word. We’ve all been given a measure of faith, and we need faith in order to please God (Romans 12:3; Hebrews 11:6). Faith is taking God’s Word as truth. That’s it. Having faith in the gospel is believing that Jesus lived a righteous life and died in my place, and believing that His righteousness is put in place of mine.
Then there is also the action that comes with faith (James 2). Faith leads to action. Faith in Jesus leads to living life differently.
Don’t confuse this with legalism. Legalism is action to earn favor, faith is action because you already have favor. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourself…For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:8-10, emphasis added). The good works come after already being saved through faith. We’re saved for good works, not by them.
Faith is the realization of things hoped for, the confidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Things hoped for mean they’re not already in hand, and things not seen are invisible. Faith is most necessary when there seems to be the least reason for it—when unseen and unrealized truths beckon us.
The best example of faith can be found in children. This is a conversation that took place when my youngest brother was almost four:
Me: do you hear that airplane, little one?
Him: yes, I do. I think there’s a helicopter. Helicopters fly connected to airplanes.
Me: they do, huh?
Him: hey Callie, Heaven is up there too. Higher than the clouds and stuff though.
Me: it is indeed.
Him: and Jesus lives up there. Jesus is living there right now.
Me: do you think He can see us from all the way up there?
Him: yes, I do.
Me: think He can hear us?
Him: (yells) HI JESUS!
(Regular) yea, He can hear us. (Looks at me thoughtfully) I really love Jesus.
Me: me, too. Why do you love Jesus?
Him: because He loves me. I'm gonna ask Mommy for some crackers.
And that was that.
The faith of a child seems overly simplistic; that is, until you realize that’s exactly the faith that Jesus tells us to have. “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:4). My brother has never seen Jesus’ physical face, and he didn’t see Jesus die for him. Still, he is confident in Jesus’ existence, His ability to hear all the way from heaven, and His love.
Faith is not the feeling of things unseen, it is the belief in things unseen. Contrary to majority opinion, faith is a choice. Sometimes this choice includes our feelings, but it usually does not. Faith is the ability to see the sunshine when clouds darken the sky. Faith trusts Jesus when feelings are a cacophony of chaos. And faith is believing that Jesus will help me with this Bible study tomorrow because He delights to do so, even when my feelings tell me otherwise. Faith is believing He will help me conquer my looming exam even though I feel like I'm doomed for failure.
Faith rests in Jesus’ love when shame resists it. Faith believes Jesus.
Lord, help me to believe You. Always. May I trust you as easily as a child trusts his parent, and constantly rest in Your love.