Friday, September 11, 2009

Doubting Faith – The Unfortunate Default?

During the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for those who come to me and hear my words and put them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But those who hear my words and do not put them into practice are like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete”
–Luke 6:46-49 (TNIV).

What does this parable of Jesus’ mean? It talks about the building of faith, the surest structure known to humankind. Let me prove this to you if you’re not already aware.

Sooner or later there comes a torrent in life. It may tarry but it surely comes. From a tough day (or series of them) to the loss of a loved one to constant disappointment of unrealised or broken dreams to physical incapacity… sooner or later the torrent will sweep through. There’s almost nothing more certain.

And what has God provided us as a means of safely negotiating the travesties of life and withstanding the horrible things inherent in life? Faith: pure and simple. And this is the practice of a set of attitudes, ideals, values, beliefs and behaviours that sees us living a calm, peaceable, victorious and grace-filled existence.

Yet, more often than not we’re personally found to struggle in our acquisition of such a faith—a faith anyone can have.

Faith is not something that is “acquired.” It is something that is grown. And this faith grows in quietness, and in solitude, like the little guy thoughtfully eating his play lunch by himself in lonely courtyard at school. Faith meanders through the glistening meadows of life, patiently observing and taking it all in. Call it training.

Faith, too, grows in amongst stark hardship. Knowing through the above observation that life turns on a ten cent piece, we can now expect that “life” will turn on us at some point. God’s not personally vindictive. He just “is.”

Faith is proven in the midst of battle, when courage comes to the fore to patiently and humbly bear against the fear that seems so real, yet isn’t.

Even though the hardest thing comes and we feel blown to the point of a threatened collapse (indeed, we feel totally marooned!), faith is the premise behind the resilience that sees us resurrected. Paul knows this in his experience as a soldier of the faith:

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed”

–2 Corinthians 4:8 (NIV).

We know our faith is real and has a true foundation to it when the storm comes, and the torrents lash, but despite these, and after their passing, we remain standing.

And we prepare our faith now, while there is time before the flood. We obey God now.

And if we’re in a flood, we hold on... our resolve to not quit can prove our faith real.

© S. J. Wickham, 2009.

1 comment:

Paul Maurice Martin said...

I like the emphasis here on practice. In my own experience of Christianity growing up, the emphasis was all on worship and belief and sinning and being forgiven because you repent and then getting to go to heaven.

A kind of ultimate reward-punishment system instead of something to live by...