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    “See to it no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

    « Pragmatism: A Little Leaven | A Word for the Church: Isaiah 22 & The Valley of Vision »
    Tuesday
    Aug022011

    What is Faith? Part 1: According to the Gospels

    I have struggled with the concept of “having faith” ever since my baby daughter died nearly 8 years ago. Well-meaning and sincere people used the phrase “just have faith” in reference to praying for her healing (she had heart defects) and God would certainly heal her.

     

    Maybe one reason I struggle with this word is it tends to have a variety of meanings. One definition refers to one’s belief system as in, “I practice the _(fill in the blank)_ faith”.

     

    Sometimes it seems to imply just believing in something/that something will happen despite logic/circumstances saying otherwise (as in my baby’s case). Other times it means to trust, and in still other instances “faith” appears to simply be a nice filler when no other word will fit. 

     

    I began reading the Gospels a few months ago and was struck at how many times Jesus spoke on “faith”.

    "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matt 17:20).

     

    And I became confused and began to pray. I did not understand how just a tiny bit of faith (the trust/belief kind) could make mountains move, but not heal an innocent baby. Experience, reflection, and much prayer had already taught me God does not work that way, so I knew I was missing something.

     

    After praying for several days, God told me “Just keep reading. There are four Gospels” (I was only in the middle of Matthew, the first one).

     

    So I did and discovered a great many more places where Jesus spoke of the faith of certain people like the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5-13), Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), the Canaanite woman (Matt. 9:18-22), and the paralytic (Luke 5:17-26) to name just a few.

     

    And while they did believe Jesus was God and trusted that He could heal them, there was more to it. Crowds also flocked to Jesus everywhere to be healed (they trusted He could heal them too), but these other people were highlighted for their faith.

     

    I noticed a trend in their stories. Before they even saw or spoke to Jesus, there was a desperation in their actions. They knew Jesus was not only their last chance but also their best hope. These people performed slightly crazy or bold actions just to see Him or touch Him or speak to Him.  They knew they NEEDED Him and not just for healing but for living.

     

    That is the kind of faith Jesus commended them for. They stood out from the crowds, because they recognized who He was, what He could do, and that apart from Him they were nothing. Notice their actions and life changes after their encounter with Jesus? They became completely changed men and women physically, spiritually, and practically.

     

    That is real faith. And it can and has moved mountains.

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