by: Staci Stallings
The more I think about this concept, the more the pieces all fit.
We have talked about Relationship with God vs. Rules.
Now in the world, rules are useful because not everyone has a relationship with God. If we all did, I assume that would be (will be) what Heaven is and the rules wouldn’t be necessary. Here, however, a relationship with God is not primary in many people’s lives, and so the “next best thing” is to cling to rules.
That said, let’s look a little more at the Relationship with God side.
For a long time in my life, I thought that “faith” was some kind of yardstick of my loyalty to God.
In fact, I have heard of religions where if you are praying for X to happen and Y happens instead, the members question your FAITH. As in, you just didn’t have enough faith to make it happen. Faith becomes some kind of talisman. A charm. A way to conjure up what you want, ostensibly through the will of God.
But this understanding of faith cannot be accurate because if it is, then the relationship we have with God is one of “using” God to get what we want. That is NOT relationship. That is abuse.
Others believe that God set the world in motion and stood back, that He is not involved nor does He care about us personally.
Again, this cannot be because that view holds that God has chosen to separate Himself from us.
In fact, if you look at the major heresies of the world, you will see a common thread — separation. Either God separates Himself from us, or we separate ourselves from God.
And that’s precisely how we got in trouble in the first place!
If separation from God, which by the way is what “sin” is, clearly doesn’t work. Then what does?
However, here’s the thing. Relationships are messy things. The other person doesn’t always do what you want them to. They don’t always toe the line and jell the way you want them to.
Ever had a friend who was only there when they needed you?
Ever had a friend who never remembered your birthday?
Ever had someone in your life who forgot to invite you to something important?
Ever been left at home on a Friday night because no one bothered to call to see if you wanted to go do something?
Yep. Relationships are HARD. They are messy, and sometimes, they hurt.
This I think is the point at which “faith” makes its entrance into our discussion. Faith is the bridge between what we can see in our relationship with God and what we can only “know without knowing.”
For me, faith is partly remembering, as David did, the things God has already done for me, and partly believing, unlike Thomas, even though I cannot see.
It is walking with confidence into situations that I really don’t know how they will turn out other than believing God brought me there for a reason and that somehow He will see me through. i.e. believing enough in my FRIEND, God, to know that He will help me through whatever it is.
Jesus said, “If you have FAITH the size of a mustard seed…”
I think what he was saying is, “If you trusted the relationship that you already have with God…”
With FAITH (a belief in your relationship with God) all things are possible.
The more you believe that God loves you, hands-down, all-bets-off, no-questions-asked, the more “faith” you are going to have.
The more you watch what He does, the more convinced you become that He uses His power for you and in your best interest, the more “faith” you begin to have when times get rough.
I know for me, in my life, it has been in the truly dark nights that I saw the light most clearly. Oh, it wasn’t easy.
The darkness wanted to take me down. It knew all the fearful things to whisper to me.
It was only in clinging to my faith (my relationship with God) that I got through those times.
So I guess what I’m saying is that I think “faith” is simply another way of saying “our relationship with God.” If that relationship is solid, your faith will be solid.
If that relationship is built on fear and doubt about who God is and if He even cares about you, doubt is probably much more real to you than faith.