“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
– J.R.R. Tolkien
Faith. My pastor gave an amazing message on Sunday morning on that subject. Based on Hebrews 11, he noted that the definition of faith today is vastly different than the definition 200 years ago. Faith today is all about feeling, all about emotion. Our faith is flimsy, dependent on the events and people that surround us. Faith according to Hebrews is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” In that context, one can argue the idea that faith is not about feeling or emotion, because with this kind of faith we have no attachment or connection to the object of our faith outside of trusting and believing the God of the universe cares. As Jason Ostrander put it, “We serve the God who spins galaxies on one hand, but on the other, is intimately concerned about our afternoon.” It is incredible how much faith it takes to believe that the God who created the universe, who molded the stars and put the planets in motion, is so concerned about our small problems.
I read a book titled, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Frank Turek. It was one of the most challenging reads of my life and really spoke on how much more faith it requires to believe in the non-existence of God than it takes for us to believe in the existence of God. Do we really exercise that faith though? Jesus constantly referenced faith in the Bible as childlike. Children constantly have faith in their parents that they will do what’s best for them, that they’ll give them the food they need. Children also have amazing faith in the Lord. I’ve heard countless stories of the most impossible situations imaginable and a child giving the most profound, trusting and believing answer that God will heal or provide. We practice faith everyday in the world around us. We exercise faith that when we turn on a light switch, the light will come on. We exercise faith when we sit down in the chair to eat dinner, it will support us. We exercise faith that when the stoplight turns red, the other cars will stop as you proceed through the intersection. All small amounts of faith required for the littlest things in our lives.
Recently, I have found myself asking the question — do I have childlike faith? Do I have that kind of faith that says even when the road darkens, I will not abandon my course? I pray that I have the kind of faith that always believes, always hopes, and always trusts. “Hope does not disappoint us.” We may doubt, but when doubt gets in the way of our faith and hope, it is then the problem arises.
“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God whose ways you may not understand at the time.” –Oswald Chambers
I am currently reading The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in conjunction with my daily devotions.
First of all, Bonhoeffer was such an inspiring man. He realized that the church in Germany during the 1930s and 40s looked no different from secular society. The church was not living out the life of obedience and discipleship it is called to do. It possessed “a form of godliness but den[ied] its power” which is what Paul warned would happen to some churches in the later days. [2 Tim 3:5] Bonhoeffer spoke out against this and continued preaching the true gospel and working to show people the love of Christ until he was eventually imprisoned and killed by the Nazis in 1945.
I am only a couple chapters into the book but will write briefly about what has struck me so far.
Bonhoeffer distinguishes between what he calls “cheap grace” and “costly grace”. Cheap grace he defines as “a doctrine, a principle, a system”, “a cheap covering for… sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God.” “It is justification of sin without the justification of the sinner”.[pp 45-46] This is when we know we are forgiven and therefore possess no urgency to change–to become real disciples. How many Christians today just accept God’s forgiveness but live in the exact same way as their secular counterparts?
Costly grace, in contract, is an acknowledgment that grace is a gift that comes in conjunction with a truly repentant heart [and thus a radical change in lifestyle]. Grace IS costly…the Son of God gave his life to buy it for us. It does not make us followers of Christ to merely acknowledge forgiveness and go on behaving the same way. We must strive always to become like Christ and to forego those things which cause us to stumble. We really should look different from the world around us if we remove those things which keep us from being like Christ…so why don’t we? Just a thought.
I’ll write more after I have read more of the book, but in closing:
“Happy are they who know that discipleship simply means the life which springs from grace, and that grace simply means discipleship. Happy are they who have become Christians in this sense of the word. For them the word of grace has proved a fount of mercy.” [Cost of Discipleship p 60]
It’s no secret that I have made mistakes throughout my past, many of which were in the spotlight of my social life. I had many people in life that could have taught me how to avoid so many mistakes, but I failed to use them as a resource. This is the first blog post on the recently created Biblical-Stranger blog; a website dedicated to strangers growing in the relationship with Christ together. I was ignorant and foolish to reject the wisdom of others when I was young, now I must make up for lost time. This website will allow you to absorb some of the wisdom from others and potentially provide wisdom from others… all from the comfort of your own computer screen and done so anonymously. Take a few minutes and help build a community of Christian strangers.
The first post begins…. now…
Lately I’ve come to the discovery of how peaceful the silence of our late A.M. hours can be. Darkness surrounds the earth and the elegant moon becomes a temporary night-light, guiding us from place to place. I sat on the highest point of my roof at 2:00 A.M., soaking in the beauty emerging in the darkness. Advice was given to each other by each other, hoping to solve some of life’s challenges while on the peak of that tall roof. Upon the completion of our conversation, I realized my advice was only half full… in fact, most the times I give advice I’ve been forgetting a crucial “ingredient.”
The missing “ingredient”
Several months ago I was struggling in life because I was so confused on where to go or how God was directing me. God and his remarkable timing was certainly evident that Sunday morning. Pastor Troy Dobbs of Grace Church began his sermon on God’s plan for us, and how we can determine what our calling in life may be. It wasn’t some intense or confusing combination of tasks. In fact, it was as simple as diving into God’s word and allowing Him to speak to us through His Text. You see, the missing ingredient was reminding my friends to dive into Christ’s Word and to utilize prayer.
God is capable of communicating through any medium we can think of, and ones that we as humans couldn’t even contemplate. Though it seemed to make a great deal of sense that God uses prayer and especially the Biblical text; brought into existence through God. There no wondering why I had been struggling in life, why I had no sense of direction; maintaining devotions was a challenge, no to mention actively reading God’s word.
What to remember…
It’s going to be your choice what you take away from this post (or from this website). You can think about how I forget to give full advice, or the fact that I was uncertain my path… But if that’s all you dwell on, you dropped the ball. I urge you to dive into God’s word and strive to excel the growth you should have in Jesus Christ. When others ask for advice, don’t forget to mention the power of prayer and how much we can take away from Christ by reading His word. Doubt me if you will, though I am certain you’ll come to understand the Lord’s power in a new way.