Practical Christian Theology for Women
- Saturday, August 23, 2008
If you read Christ's rebuke in context, it's hard to put your finger on exactly what aspect of their response marked a lack of faith, but it's clear that they had forgotten something very important that they should have remembered from the previous provisions of food. We see this problem of provision and forgetfulness over and over throughout the Old and New Testaments—and over and over in our own lives. God does something big, and we simply forget. We forget that he provided for us last time. We forget that he worked things together so well for us to get our last job, buy our last house, have our last child. We worry and fret over new problems when we really should know better. The problem is not that we have never seen God provide for us before. The problem is not that he's asking us to respond in a way that is radically different from previous situations; the problem is that we forget the ways he's proven himself in the past and fret over how we are going to provide for ourselves in the new situation. Exhibiting little conviction in the truth of God's promises is especially troublesome when he's proven himself faithful so many times before.
Sometimes the issues are big. Sometimes the issues are small. But, in my case, no matter how many times God has proven himself faithful, it seems my initial reaction to any new problem is fear and anxiety. I have to fight each time to bring my responses back into line with what I know about him. Recently I had a misunderstanding with a dear friend, which caused me a lot of distress. After a few hours I began seeking God on how to respond in a way that would reflect the gospel and what I know to be true about God's character. When my friend and I next talked, God allowed us to resolve my concern without conflict.
But then, two days later, a similar conflict arose. Instead of thinking immediately of all God had shown me about himself earlier in the week, my first response was anger and bitterness that such a conflict was happening again. After a few hours of forgetting God, I began to remember what I know of him and how a few days before he had shown his ability to reconcile conflict. Once again, after taking my thoughts captive and making them submit to what I knew to be true about God, God resolved this conflict in a way that actually strengthened our friendship.
But so often, just like the Israelites in the Old Testament and the disciples in the New Testament, I completely forget all the ways God has shown himself faithful to me and others throughout time. Due to such forgetfulness, God instructed the Israelites to put up markers at places where God had done something mighty for them. Similarly, in light of my forgetfulness, I find journaling to be a helpful tool for remembering God's work in my life.
Faithfulness in the Scriptures
In contrast to the previous section, let's consider examples of faithfulness from Scripture. Consider Christ's words in Matthew 8 describing the centurion who came to him. Jesus says, "I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith"(Matthew8:10).Once again, the word used for "faith" here is pistis, meaning "conviction of the truth" and "belief resulting in trust." The centurion came to Jesus, asking him to heal his servant. When Jesus moved to go to the man's house, the centurion said, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed" (v. 8). In effect, he was saying, "Lord, I don't need to see it. You can just say it right here, and I'll trust you and walk home by myself confident all the way that you healed my servant—even though I haven't seen the results." This man believed Christ, and it showed in how he responded.
I am blessed by this man's example. He didn't verbally announce his belief in Christ. Instead he Jlived his belief in Jesus Christ. He walked up to Christ, not with confidence in himself but with an absolute, unshakeable confidence in Jesus Christ. I love the fact that Jesus was "astonished" by his response (v.10). Jesus was repeatedly gracious with those whose faith wavered, and I am so thankful that he continues to be gracious with his children today. Oh, but how sweet it would be to please the Lord with our responses of faith as this centurion did.
Recently on Books
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content