I love to people watch. I can sit back for an hour at a mall and just watch people as they walk by. I love to watch their faces and in particular, look into their eyes. I was recently at the Peninsula Town Center waiting for my son to finish some indoor skateboarding. After getting bored in the shop I decided to sit outside in the cold and watch people. And that’s when it hit me. How many of these people are really happy with their lives? Their steps seemed busy, their faces were downcast and sullen and smiles were few and far between. I wondered if more people in America had faith in God, would we see more smiles?
I know that faith brings more joy into your life. Faith brings more meaning into your walk on earth. ’m convinced that faith makes a heart that was hard and angry shine with excitement about their future.
What is faith? In particular, what does it mean to have faith in God? Over the past decade of ministry, I have found a profound lack of understanding among church and un-churched folk about the real definition and as importantly, the application of faith in their lives.
Let’s start with what faith is not. Faith is not an intellectual understanding of God. Anybody can understand God with their minds but never have the kind of faith that pleases the Lord. If you doubt this premise, ask yourself this question. Do the demons in the spirit world know about God? Do they understand who He is? Of course, the answer is a resounding, “Yes.” No theologian would ever suggest that demons are going to go to heaven. In Nazi Germany, most residents knew who Hitler was and most (but certainly not all) knew his tactics were wrong and evil; yet some chose to follow him and others chose not to and often times paid for it with their lives. Those who placed their faith in Hitler joined the cause for world domination.
Faith is not church attendance. Church attendance results from our faith or leads us to faith in God but it is not faith. Many people running from true faith wind up in church without ever finding the kind of faith that can move mountains, the kind of faith that can radically change a life, and the type of faith that can bring peace and joy through the worst of storms. Billy Graham stated years ago that he feared more than 50% of people in church fell into this category.
Faith is not a feeling. Faith can affect our feelings but the raw theological meaning of faith is far greater than the momentary feelings that can change like the wind. I believe Americans can place way too much stock on feelings. In marriages today, some that “lose that loving feeling” simply cut the cords and get a divorce. Love is not a feeling but a choice. Love is a commitment when the feelings and honeymoon are a distant memory. Faith and love are powerful connecting forces that can radically alter our way of thinking and the way we act.
Imagine you are driving in a car on a foreign road with no cars in sight. You come upon a rickety bridge and slam on the brakes. You get out of the car and carefully examine the structure. Should you cross or turn around? Is it strong enough to hold your car? Do you want to take the chance? Because you value your life and you are not sure, you simply turn around and find another way to your destination. You see, you didn’t have faith in the bridge. Faith is the motivating factor behind what you do in your life. It is the life-force in your heart that determines what decisions you make for you and your family’s future.
At its core, faith from your heart, spirit and soul is what makes you who you are. Your faith is what causes you to act a certain way, marry who you marry, vote for who your trust, and spend money the way you choose. In essence, faith is an action verb. It’s the very nerve-center of who you are as a human being. Faith is not invisible. What you do defines your faith.
Faith in God is an attitude of the heart. Faith in God means trusting God. You place your undying love and gratitude in the Lord’s hands. I love Carrie Underwood’s music. Her song, “Jesus Take The Wheel” is one of my favorite songs. I view it as a spiritual song. You can use the link to hear the song. Faith is allowing the Lord to take the wheel of your life and direct your paths across every bridge, no matter the condition, that He wants you to cross!