By: Michael Simmelink
I’m noticing a trend in how Christians use the word “faith.” I am almost sure this phenomenon has been going on for longer than I’ve been sucking wind, but only recently have I had awareness of it. So to be perfectly transparent upfront, you may get done and say, “Well duh. I knew that.” If that’s the case for you, sorry Bro Montana.
What I am speaking of is the change in meaning of a widespread word in Christianity. Faith. We have a tendency to speak of faith as a noun, and more specifically, a noun that we have the ability to possess.
I hear people refer to “my faith walk” or “what my faith means to me” in even the most simple conversations. It isn’t on the fringe of Christian culture; it is an accepted phrase throughout. Faith has become something we have, or wish we could increase, or lack in the low points of life. We accept that everyone is at different levels in their faith, and as long as people are trying to get more of it for themselves, we commend them on the effort. Faith is totally something we can’t have enough of.
But is that all faith is? Is it something made for each individual person – a God-orchestrated road we walk in growing closer to our Savior? Is it something we can possess at all?
Here’s the concern of mine. We have shifted the balance of this single word too far in the direction of benefiting ourselves. We have made it synonymous, almost exclusively, with the word “relationship.” Now, please don’t get me wrong, our relationship with Jesus is a vital thing. (For the love of all things good, don’t be that guy who comments and says I’m belittling the role of the bond between you and God. I’m plainly stating right here that it is necessary for eternal salvation, which makes it hard for me to place any more emphasis on it.) However, I feel like we are being a little selfish in our mindset of faith. Adhering to Christianity really isn’t about each person getting their fire insurance. It’s so much bigger than that.
I’m urging you to think of faith as not just something between you and Jesus. In fact, I’m urging you to think of faith as a verb. It is something we must show with our actions. I don’t think we can simply “have faith” like we can “have relationships.” We have to work at it, grind through to it, prove it. James 2 tells us that “faith without works is dead.” In fact, the whole book of James seems pretty high on faith not just changing our destination after death, but also changing how we live our earthly existence and treat others.
The whole book of James seems pretty high on faith not just changing our destination after death, but also changing how we live our earthly existence and treat others.
If you have faith, quite frankly, I want to see it. I want to see it in how you treat the person whose laugh annoys you. I want to see your faith in action by sacrificing time when you could be making money to give it away. I want to see your faith by caring as much about the non-Believers as you do yourself. And I want to see it because I know that God wants to see it, too.
So I genuinely hope that when you pray today it enhances your relationship with our Triune God, but don’t let it stop there. Let your faith have positive horizontal ramifications to go along with glorious vertical promises.