is not the question, actually.
Romans 1:17 says, “the just shall live by faith.” But from my observation of life, the unjust live by faith, too.
I think that is just what humans do — we believe.
We believe what others tell us. We believe what we have experienced. We believe what we read and see and play – movies, TV, sports, computers.
We believe things about ourselves, about the way life works, about the basic character of humans, about love and death and taxes.
As children, we are taught or develop a set of rules or guidelines, and we then live our lives based on our belief in them. You see this every day, everywhere you look. How we relate to one another; how we react to life or work or traffic signals; how we behave in certain situations – all these are based on our beliefs.
When our beliefs are challenged, though, look out! Look at how passionately believers in football or human rights or saving whales will fight for what they believe. And how many of us still feel betrayed about Santa Claus?
We all live (and die) by (and for) our beliefs.
So, if we all have faith, if we all believe, what is the question?
The question is — what do we believe?
For so long, the church has made it sound like Christians have a corner on the faith market. In doing this, though, I wonder if we’ve actually pushed people away from God? When you tell someone that they don’t have something that they know on some deep level they do have, they will reject you and what you are trying to say. Try telling someone that they don’t have the capacity to love, and see what happens! Tell them they don’t have faith, and you’ll probably get the same reaction.
But we do tell people they have no faith, whenever we act and talk as though faith is, in itself, the thing we must have to be saved.
Throughout the Bible, though, it is clear that what counts is not if you believe, but what (or Who) you believe.
The best explanation of this I’ve ever found is this, from”The Christian’s Secret For A Happy Life”, by Hannah Whitall Smith:
“Your idea of faith, I suppose, has been something like this. You have looked upon it as in some way a sort of thing, either a religious exercise of soul, or an inward gracious disposition of heart; something tangible, in fact, which, when you have got, you can look at and rejoice over, and use as a passport to God’s favor, or a coin with which to purchase His gifts. And you have been praying for faith, expecting all the while to get something like this, and never having received any such thing, you are insisting upon it that you have no faith.
Now faith, in fact, is not in the least this sort of thing. It is nothing at all tangible. It is simply believing God, and, like sight, it is nothing apart from its object. You might as well shut your eyes and look inside to see whether you have sight, as to look inside to discover whether you have faith. You see something, and thus know that you have sight; you believe something, and thus know that you have faith. For, as sight is only seeing, so faith is only believing. And as the only necessary thing about seeing is, that you see the thing as it is, so the only necessary thing about believing is, that you believe the thing as it is.
The virtue does not lie in your believing, but in the thing you believe. If you believe the truth you are saved; if you believe a lie you are lost. The believing in both cases is the same; the things believed in are exactly opposite, and it is this which makes the mighty difference. Your salvation comes, not because your faith saves you, but because it links you on to the Saviour who saves; and your believing is really nothing but the link.”
So maybe, instead of questioning whether others have faith, we should ask what they have faith in.
Instead of trying to use our faith as a lever to move God in the direction we want, maybe we should use it to hold on to Him, and go where He goes.
“A great many Christians are slaves to the habit of doubting.”
Mrs. Whitall Smith said that, too, in her book. Do we doubt because we are putting our trust in our faith, rather than in Jesus Christ and our Father in heaven?
Maybe, if we had faith in God instead of in our faith, we could be healed, conquer sin and death, reach others’ hearts with His truth, change the world!
May you be blessed with true faith in Him who saves and heals, guides and protects, loves and intercedes for each of us.
May our Father God teach you how to believe in Him! And may you see fruit of this new faith across all the facets of your life.