Friday, March 23, 2012

Faith as a Partnership

What is faith?  How can we understand what it means to have faith?  How are we saved by faith?  These are questions that many spend countless hours milling over.

One of the biggest issues I see when it comes to folks who struggle is that they try to "get faith" or "keep their faith" because they rely upon it as that which saves them.  They are constantly looking back upon themselves, attempting to measure themselves to see if they have faith.  "If I know I have faith," they say to themseles, "then I can know I'm safe."  The navel-gazing doesn't end there, for if they cannot convince themselves that they have "faith" just by looking at themselves, they must go to the next level and preoccupy themselves with a measurement of their "Christian-looking-ness"... only to conclude, worriedly, that they must be inferior to other Christians or not making the mark.

This misunderstands what faith is at its very essence, for faith is not something you offer to God in order to secure His salvation.  It is not just another "good work."  It is something wholly other.  Faith means seeing your lack, your spiritual bankruptcy, and leaning you weight on Christ and all that God's grace has accomplished in Him for you.  Faith does not lean on, or look back upon, itself.

At the risk of sounding utterly synergistic, faith recognizes a "partnership" of sorts.  I am a creature, dependent on my God... on His mercy and His provision and His goodness, which He has proven is abundantly there in Jesus. The "partnership" of living by faith is that I do, on earth, my earthly things, living in the restful embrace and mercy and grace and care of my God who came down to meet me here. It means I can't save myself, that I leave that to Him. It means that I can't perfect myself, that I leave that to Him. It means I don't know all the answers and don't need to, that He is big enough for them all. It means that I can't control, that I leave that to Him. It means that I leave all of that to Him, recognizing my full dependence, and then I concentrate on my earthly things with rest because He is God, *this* God who has taken care of my biggest problem so that I can come back down to earth.

My salvation, forgiveness for my sins, grace for today, my faith itself, providing for me, being Lord and Master, being my Father... these things are His department, His side of this "partnership."  By His grace, I relinquish my control of these to Him.

Coming down to earth and dealing with my earthly things, doing the things He has given to me and no more, is my side of this partnership.

That is faith.  It means that I recognize that He is God, the only Savior, and that I can now stop trying to climb the ladder, I can give up control of His side of things, and I can focus on living as a man here on earth, loving others, and "tending the fields" so to speak.

And consequently, anti-faith, or the spirit of the "Old Adam" in us, seeks to destroy this partnership.  It seeks to steal God's side of things, to overtake it for ourselves, to control it.  It is not content to just be a man and to just mind our earthly things in the garden.

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