Friday, June 21, 2013

An Active Faith

Yesterday, I talked about some of the questions I have from a conflicted faith that already knows the outcome but has to fight anyway.  I think part of the conflict is that when people hear you are a Christian and when you assert the promises and truth of God in a situation and when you yourself know how it ends up, everyone expects that to mean that not only should you not have to fight, you shouldn't even think about fighting.

If you've got God and God's got this, then why are you stressed and frustrated and exhausted and worn down and burdened?

The taunting jeers of the world say that if you've got God and God's got this and you choose to fight anyway, then you don't really have God or God's not really got this.  The criticizing looks of some Christians confirm the same - if you're fighting in spite of an absolute faith that the fight is already scored, then you must not have an absolute faith.  You can't win for losing.  (Which is another one of God's beautiful paradoxes because as you'd seem to lose in the eyes of the world, you're winning.  Even in this.)

But the truth is that God's promise has never been in a passive faith.  Never.  The Bible is a series of stories of men and women throughout time who have had to take steps of faith - big steps, little steps, hard steps, harder steps, steps that seem like something and steps that seem like nothing but steps nonetheless.  They haven't had it easy; God has never simply handed anything to His people even though it was promised.  They had to go get it.  

His people have always needed an active faith.

As Israel moved through the desert toward the Promised Land, they knew God had given them this good place.  He kept reminding them of that.  But He didn't eradicate the nations that stood in their way; they had to pick up arms and fight.  Even though He'd already promised the victory.

David was anointed king over Israel, but he spent many years cave-hopping to avoid the persecution of the former king, Saul.  He fought for his life and fought his enemies and fought to stay one step ahead...even though God already promised the kingship.

The people of God were looking for the Messiah, promised by God for hundreds of years.  But they had to birth Him, raise Him, hear Him, embrace Him.  They were under the oppressive rule of an anti-Jewish regime and they had to fight for their Messiah when He got there.  Even though God promised He was sending a Messiah and showed that this was Him.

Jesus...had to die on the Cross, even though He knew He would live again.  The Son of God could not bypass the fight, the very real struggle against death itself, even though He knew the way the story ended.

Faith has always required action.  There's no place in God's story for passive faith.  Because passive faith requires no investment.

Real faith takes action.  It takes getting in there and getting dirty.  It takes sweat, even when you know what's coming is sweet.  Because, and this will make sense I hope to those of you who have lived this, you only really see God moving when you're in motion, too.

The way we move, the way we fight, it's impossible not to see our own weakness.  It's impossible not to see the sobering reality of our size.  We get in there and we realize just how much bigger than us this whole thing is...and then there's God, fighting, too, and we understand how much bigger than that He is.  And that gives us all the more reason to hope, all the more reason to trust, and all the more strength to fight.  In this fight...we've got Him.  And He's got this.

It sucks, this place of conflicted faith that knows the answer and resents the fight but has to fight anyway.  But that's how holy, Godly, God-honoring faith is.  It's an active faith.  So we fight.

Which is, in itself, an act of faith.

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