Reflections on the Way, the Truth, and the Life
- Monday, March 07, 2005
Ah yes, faith! We have to talk about faith in all this; after all, it's "the evidence of things not seen," and "we live by faith, not by sight." This means that faith allows us to tap into reality ... God's reality ... the only true reality. Furthermore, faith is active, not passive. It's creative. It's transformational. Faith is how we change our reality. Let me explain.
Throughout the gospel of John, we come across a remarkable phrase found nowhere else in ancient Greek literature, a unique grammatical construction that means, literally, "believe into," in contrast with "believe in." John had to invent (as it were) a new phrase to express fully this idea of faith.
Instead of a weaker "I believe" or "I agree," New Testament faith is more like "I fully buy into it, and I'm going to let God's reality become my reality." To put it simply, we believe in an idea, but we must believe into Christ to encounter and experience reality. Look again at these familiar sayings:
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him [literally, "believes into him"] shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16, emphasis mine
To all who received him, to those who believed in his name [that is, "into his name"] he gave the right to become children of God. – John 1:12, emphasis mine
Faith is a plunge into the real. Faith changes our reality by allowing us to look at what cannot be seen. As we think about the power of faith, however, I want to make something very clear: For the Christian, faith is not some cosmic power equally accessible to all living beings, some force I can use to bend spoon handles this way and my future that way.
Biblical faith is antithetical to the popular New Age idea that faith is power to reach your dreams. If you just visualize it ... if you just say it ... no, the object of our faith is the person of Christ alone, his word, his reality. Faith is not believing for what I want but living my life as though everything God says in his Word is alétheia: the truth, the ultimate reality. Faith has no intrinsic power, but Jesus does! Faith opens our hearts to heaven, opens heaven to our hearts, and releases the supernatural power of God into our world.
CAN YOU SEE?
A wonderful example is the ancient Israelite leader Joshua. His mentor, Moses, was the man God used to lead the chosen nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt, through the Red Sea, and to the maroon shadows of Mount Sinai. After receiving the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Law there, the massive Israelite column snaked its way across the desert toward the Promised Land.
As is commonly known, that part of the world is neither scenic nor hospitable, and many of the people became disgruntled. Again and again Moses heard them whining in the backseat, "When are we going to get there?" At long last they reached the banks of the Jordan River, the eastern boundary of the Promised Land. When they imagined, though, that the people inhabiting their land had weapons of mass destruction, their collective faith in God's promise imploded in a wimpy gasp. I have a mental picture: To God, this moment looked and sounded like what happens when you let go of a big balloon. Sputtering erratically through the room, it shrinks in seconds from the size of a watermelon to a colored fragment puddled motionless on the floor.
Standing there at the Jordan, the faithlessness of the Israelites grew so fierce that the Lord couldn't contain his wrath. "Forty years," blared God's judgment: "Forty years you will wander in the desert, until every last one of you dies. Including you, Moses. But not Joshua and Caleb, because they have faith."
Decades later all the original wanderers were resting in their sandy graves as their children and grandchildren returned to the banks of the Jordan. Straining his aging voice, Joshua said to the Israelites,
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