Since we've been talking about fear quite a bit this week, let's end up this Friday with a bit of a discussion on faith, shall we? Specifically, let's look at faith in the context of Ephesians 2:8-9:
God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. It's not the result of anything you've done, so no one can brag about it.
When I read these words a few weeks ago in my Bible study, I quickly scribbled a note that simply asks: is faith anything?
Paul says God saves us through faith, but His saving is merely an act of kindness. It has nothing to do with us. It's not the result of anything we've done so that we cannot brag about it. But isn't faith something we do? Isn't believing in God, trusting in Him, entrusting ourselves to Him...isn't that something we do?
It's an interesting question and one that most people might say the answer is clearly "yes." Faith is something we do. We either do it or we do not, right? Abraham either climbs the mountain or he does not. Gideon either goes into battle or he does not. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego either walk into the furnace or are thrown there. Jesus either carries His Cross...or He doesn't. Faith is something. It has to be.
Or does it?
Most of us spend our lives chasing faith. Chasing a way to believe or a way to believe more. When life hands us troubles, we try to hold onto God just a little bit more. When we are afraid, we try to respond in faith. When we fall, we blame a lack of faith. We spend our lives judging ourselves by our faith and thinking if we had more, we'd have something. For the believing Christian, it's all about faith. Faith has to be something. It just has to.
But Paul says it's not. If we take what he says in Ephesians 2, faith can't be anything because God's saving grace is His kindness. It's not based on our doing something, not even (it is implied) on our "doing" faith. Now, of course, in other Scriptures it says that a man, like Abraham, is saved according to his faith. So what is going on here? What are we supposed to make of all this faith talk?
I think we have to let go of our faith a little. And I don't mean that to say that we shouldn't believe, that we shouldn't trust, that we shouldn't entrust. What I mean is that we have to stop holding onto our faith like it's anything. It's not. It's dust. It's wind. It's vapor. You cannot hold faith in your hands; faith makes you take your heart in your hands just for giving it. Faith is not "something," contrary to our longings for it to be just that; faith makes you something.
Faith makes you God's.
So no, faith is not something you do. Faith is a process by which you are becoming. You enter into it...or you don't, but it's not about you. So that no one can brag about how much faith he has; he can only brag about God's saving grace that is, by faith, making him something. And in fact, it's true: everything that has ever been done on account of faith has been done on account of God and not of man.
Abraham climbs the mountain not because of who he is, but because of who God is. And that faith made him the father of many nations. Gideon goes into battle not because he's a warrior (he isn't) but because God is a Warrior. And that faith made him a mighty warrior. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walk into the furnace not because they are invincible, but because God is invincible. And that faith made them a living testimony. Jesus carries His Cross not because....trick question. Jesus is who God is. (Gotcha.)
The question you have to ask yourself, then, is what are you doing by faith these days?
And what is faith doing in you?