During my early years as a young Christian, I gathered some wild ideas about faith. The first influencers in my young Christian life were the TV preachers of the late 70s – yeah, I know – and the pentecostal movement from which I first heard the gospel about Jesus (well, sort of anyway).
From these two influencers, I heard all sorts of things about the words faith and believe. I learned that if I truly believed I could heal people, or be healed, I could rebuke the devil, I could tear down strongholds (some of you non-pentecostal types are wondering what that means), I could speak God’s will about people’s lives, I could even “take dominion” over mosquitoes.
(Okay, that last one was said to me by a friend who was irritated that I was complaining about the mosquitoes, and technically, I didn’t ask if she was serious…)
But anyway, my point is…
That what I learned about faith from these folks was that if I wanted it, I could have it, if I had enough faith. The key verse here was Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Never mind that what the Apostle Paul was talking about in this passage was trusting Christ for the ability to endure hardship and hunger, what I learned from those influencers was that human faith was a power unto itself.
My earliest influencers taught me the power of positive thinking, the power of passion, the power of wishful thinking. I had been taught to wish, to hope, real hard that what I wanted could become a reality by the power of my wishing.
Hardly a Christian notion. And in this sense, what they taught was no different than any secular, self-help guru.
Thankfully, other influencers came into my life. I studied the Bible and read good books. That’s what cleared up my confusion between faith and wishing.
Faith Rests. Wishing Wants.
Biblical faith is Jesus-centered. It rests in who He is and is satisfied with what he has done for me on the cross. Faith sees in Him the answer to my greatest need and is willing to lose all as long as I belong to Him. Biblical faith hears specific promises in the gospel of Christ recorded in Scripture: forgiveness of sin, reconciliation with God, eternal life in God’s eternal kingdom, and trusts that Jesus will make good on them all.
The modern notions of faith, or wishing as I now call it, doesn’t listen to anything but it’s own desire. It is object-oriented, not Jesus-centered. It never rests. It is never satisfied. It always wants what it promises for itself and needs no reason to wish other than it’s desire for comfort or power.
Unreasonable Wishing. Rational Faith.
Contrast this with biblical faith, which is immanently rational. God does not command us to believe nonsense in spite of reality or reason. He gives us, in Scripture, reliable historical accounts of all that Jesus did and said via the pens of multiple eye-witnesses. So when you and I say we believe in Jesus, we can mean that we have read about a real person and that we trust our fates to Him. We mean the Jesus written about in Scripture: The Jesus who really lived and taught and healed and loved and died and really rose again and is enthroned on high. We believe in what He said and did, and not least, why it was necessary.
Faith rests in who Jesus is, what He taught, and what He has done for us. Wishing only wants Him to do more.
Like the crowd Jesus miraculously fed with a few loaves of bread and some fish, wishing isn’t interested in why He performed that miracle; it just wants another free meal.
Is your faith at rest in all that Jesus is and has done for you?
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