Say we happened upon a rickety looking bridge over a deep canyon. If I were to claim that the bridge was structurally sound, then urged you to test my claim and yet would not set foot on it, would you?
Many people claim to believe in God and say they believe what the Bible says is absolutely true, but few seem to live it. It is one thing say faith makes all things possible (Mark 9:23) and quite another to live that as a reality.
I have heard all the excuses for those who claim faith while living a life that requires none. Some accuse those who ask of making demands of God, they justify their own practical agnosticism as modesty and then hide behind God’s will as an excuse to live faithlessly.
Faith Means Investment and Action
When you do not believe that something can happen you will not act to make it a reality. Unbelief wears many disguises and one of them is a fear of God that results in inaction. It was not faith that condemned the man who did not invest his abilities and then blamed the harshness of his master:
“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.” (Matthew 25:24-25 NIV)
It is not faith that causes a person to bury their abilities to intervene, but it is slothfulness, a distorted idea about God and fear. Not asking for anything from God is not humility, it is an excuse to sit on our hands rather than be a fulfillment of God’s will and a lack of belief in the power of God.
In the Bible commitment is a first step towards an answer to prayer or need. Our commitment is often nothing more than a symbolic act like dipping in a river, touching a hem or giving what little we have, nevertheless it is necessary:
“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” (John 6:9 NIV)
It did not take a rocket scientist to understand a few small loaves and a couple fish could not feed thousands of people. The disciples, if they had calculators, would probably have whipped them out and tried to explain to Jesus why his plan was an impossibility. They were incredulous.
But, had the disciples refused to participate in the distribution of fishes and loaves, had they demanded a sign from heaven before starting, would they have seen a miracle that day?
No. Probably not.
It does not require faith in God to participate in things we can completely understand. It takes faith to invest fully in something that we do not understand and seems impossible from our own perspective. Faith is believing and investing fully despite not understanding how our own contribution will help.
Faith Is Asking Boldly Without Fear
It is not faith that keeps us from asking boldly, it is fear. It is not humility either, but is pride in our own ability to sustain ourselves and doubt of God’s ability to do the impossible. We do not ask because we do not believe in a God who loves us enough to intervene on our behalf or we do not believe in God at all. It is fear that the promises and assurances of Jesus are lies:
“Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:21-22 NIV)
Promise #1 — God can do the impossible by our own logic or reasoning and will do the impossible for those who have faith.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11 NIV)
Promise #2 — God gives to those who show persistence and trust in His goodness rather relying on their own understanding.
“Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’” And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1-8 NIV)
Will Jesus find the faith of that widow woman who refused to quit in you?
We can rationalize our lack of faith and even claim it is virtue. We can claim that we do not believe God would want to be bothered and accept what is as faithless fatalists. Or we can believe the words of Jesus are true, we can believe all things are truly possible with God and live with the confidence that God will bless our persistence:
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)
Love Truly, Invest Big and Pray Bigger
With faith we invest. When we invest fully, we love fully and act in love rather than hold back in doubt or fear. There are many things that would not require a miracle to be possible if we were actually committed to a love that invests. Many more things that would be made possible if we loved as we ought.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18 NIV)
A faithful life is an active and bold life. A person who believes is not passive or ashamed to ask for what they need. Love is not fearful, love is faithful and bold. Faith is not tentative, faith is tenacious and proactive. We cannot expect God to answer if we aren’t willing to act ourselves and be an answer to prayer for those around us.
If you believe Scripture is trustworthy then live it. If you believe God is big, then pray big, invest big and put your money where your mouth is. Do not hide behind a false notion of God’s sovereignty as a way to avoid having to invest and persist. God is not honored in our rationalizations or excuses.
Faith is taking the first step over the canyon and trusting the bridge to hold.