Faith is the key to a God-centered, peaceful life filled with joyful experiences, and deeply fulfilling relationships. It’s the sense of peace we feel when we realize that God is in control, and he’s a worthy and just God who is for us in all things. Like all relationships, our relationship with God is based on trust. That is to say, we can only fully experience his perfect plan for our lives when we allow ourselves to fully embrace the truth that He is a better life compass and life coach than any human could ever be. The best analogy I’ve ever encountered for faith, is that it’s like a fire. When it’s burning brightly, it can be a beacon of light and warmth. And, like a fire, faith must be fed and maintained in order to continue to grow stronger and provide the light for our lives that each of us searches for on some level.
Faith doesn’t come easy though. For many people (myself included) it’s a long uphill road that involves a great deal of constantly fighting against what I knew in my heart to be true. I believe this is partially a product of our affluent cultural North American upbringings. We live in a tremendously wealthy society that places a great deal of value and importance on independence, problem solving, and the ability to be self-reliant in almost any given situation. The problem with this is that; as we get older, we realize that we are only in control of a small fraction of the many factors of our lives that will have very strong influences over our day to day experiences and livelihood. We can’t control the people in our lives, from our spouse or significant other, to our co-workers, even our family and friends. People by their very nature are fickle, and that proclivity for shifts in perception and treatment for seemingly little or no reason mean that, while we can enjoy our relationships and treasure them, they will never be something we are able to fully understand, let alone base our lives on. Our health, jobs, and just about every other life area we can think of are equally volatile. Jobs end in lay offs, and sickness can develop despite our best attempts to be healthy and help prevent them.
I don’t say this to be a harbinger of bad news, I believe if there is one underlying theme to The Bible, it’s that the final words in the human experience belong to hope and love, not despair. If we wish to truly understand something though, we must deal in the truth of the matter. So if we’ve established that faith is the key to life, and the world can be fickle, and is by its very nature transitory and fleeting, what does The Bible about faith? How do we go about building, maintaining, and ultimately growing our faith into a life sustaining, life altering fire that will radically change the way we live for the better? Let’s have a look at a couple of scripture passages to provide us some insight.
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6.
So in the truest sense, the faith that God is looking for from us is the acknowledgement and belief that he exists. We must continually affirm and cherish God’s primacy, and his role as the ruling sovereign of our lives. If we can’t do this, then nothing else we accomplish or say will be pleasing to God.
“And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.” – Matthew 21:21-22.
This is perhaps the most powerful illustration in The Bible of just how important and life altering faith can be. Jesus is stating here that faith can literally move mountains. Interestingly, he also adds the caveat that asking for things in prayer is only effective if we have faith. If we tie this in to our previous scripture passage, we can interpret this to mean that, you can only receive blessings from God if you truly believe to the core of your being that he exists. In a sense, faith is the primer that God requires of us in order to move in powerful ways in our life.
So how do we go about building the fire of faith in our lives into something life altering and unquenchable? I think the best analogy for this is that, like any fire, we have to continually add fuel. Rather than wood though, faith feeds on 3 main sources. Firstly, faith is bolstered very strongly by heart felt prayer. Since prayer is essentially the earnest seeking of God in our heart’s, when we open up to God in an honest, sincere fashion, God will use that prayer to speak into our lives, and further bolster our faith. Secondly, faith is fueled by spending time in God’s word. When we open our minds to God’s word, it’s truth and it’s power will saturate our thoughts in such a way that our faith will be unable to do anything other than grow apace. And thirdly, faith is bolstered very strongly by service to our fellow man for the sake of God and His kingdom. When we step out in faith, with the intention of helping those in our lives, as well as around the world, God will use those experiences to teach us, guide us, and help us grow the fire of our faith to all new heights.
In the end, faith is all we’ll have when the time comes for us to depart this world and enter the next. It is the only thing that can save us from the punishment of sin that each and every one of us has rightfully earned dozens of times over. It is the fire of our lives that warms our very souls, and gives us the strength and conviction to carry on when we feel weary and burdened by the trials and tribulations of life. Perhaps the best way to sum it up is this:
“When you have come to the edge of all that you know, and are about to drop off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen… either there will be something solid to stand on, or you’ll be taught to fly.”1
Our Jesus of The Bible who we know and love is the most solid ground to stand on in existence, and he is not in the business of giving flying lessons.
1) Graham McNeill, False Gods p.222