Thursday, December 4, 2008
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The Risk of Faith
"Faith is spelled R-I-S-K!" — Robert Schuller
We often talk about the risk of faith and think to ourselves that faith must involve a leap of some sort. That is true, but only to a degree, given the solid fact that our faith is or should be in a faithful God and in his word/promises (see the September 9/08 Faith Challenge). God is faithful, or to say it another way, God is full of faith. He knows that what he has spoken will come to pass. He knows that what he has planned will happen. He knows that he can be trusted. And, he has faith in us too. He entrusted us with the continuation and completion of his most precious task: the rescue of mankind. Not that we have to actually accomplish it, for Jesus has done everything that is needed, but we do have to be involved or it will not happen! Think of the faith or trust that he has placed in us. Was that a risk? I think so!
Not only is God faithful or full of faith, do we realize that even our lack of faith or unfaith at times cannot change him? Paul said in 2 Timothy that, "Here is a trustworthy [something you can put your faith in] saying:
"If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself" (2 Timothy 2:11-13).
In this list of trustworthy things, the second thing automatically follows the first. Until it comes to our faithlessness. Even when we do not walk in faith, even when we retreat into unbelief, even when we blow it, God remains faithful, for that is who he is, and "he cannot disown himself," he cannot be any other way. The good news is that Jesus was this way too, even as a man, it is possible for us to be faithful, and through the gift of God's presence, the Holy Spirit, we can grow in our faith. Apparently we don't need much anyway, only mustard seed size faith and God can move mountains. Sometimes he will even move our mountains when we have no faith, for he is faithful and cannot be otherwise!
So, while I understand the quote from Robert Schuller (which I have also heard attributed to John Wimber), and know that faith seems to be risky at times, the risk is actually minimized or done away with altogether, given the fact that God exists and is someone who rewards those who seek him and his ways (see Hebrews 11:6). Faith is only a risk from our perspective. It is never a risk when we look from God's point of view!
Is it risky to believe God for our salvation? Can we save ourselves? To attempt self-salvation which is what many in our world are trying to do (and sometimes we all engage in a little of this) to me seems risky. God alone can save us eternally. He is the first and last, the beginning and the end. We are like grass. Who would you rather trust for your salvation? We know this, and so we gladly enter in and believe God for salvation because we know that we can do nothing about our eternal destiny!
The problem comes for many of us in the here and now. God wants this too to be an arena of faith. But we think that we can do it on our own. We can work and provide for ourselves and our families. We have medicine and doctors to heal. We have psychologists and counselors and drugs to deal with all of our emotional issues. And on and on it goes. I guess that there is a certain amount of risk involved in trusting God in these kinds of areas. The risk is that we will look silly because professing faith for provision or healing or restoration goes counter-culture. Would I sacrifice what God wants to share with me to look respectable in the eyes of men when I know the only one who can truly do anything about any of these things as well. I agree that we should do what we can. However, would the less risky path really be to trust God at the beginning rather than after we have done everything that we can and come to the end of our rope and are forced to acknowledge that we need him? Maybe it is time that we begin to preach the risk of unbelief or unfaith not even just in the world, but in the church as well!
Faith is a risk. It is a risk only from our perspective. It is not popular so it is risky. But it is God's way, so the reality is that anything less than faith is what is really risky. Faith forces us, forces me, to humble ourselves. We can't do something but God can. The risk is that I will attempt to maintain my pride and do it myself even if I don't think I can. God on the other hand can always do what seems to me to be impossible. So then, which course of action involves more risk? Unbelief is not risky, it's disastrous. Faith on the other hand, while it might feel risky, is assured because of the awesome God we serve!
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