No Make-Believe Faith
He gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that fills all in all.
Do not look at Christ in heaven as an ideal to be arrived at. See him as God’s gift to you. You feel the things of the world pulling you down, but they can no more pull you down than they can pull him down. You are just as secure in the heavenlies as Christ is. Do you doubt this? There are some yellow flowers on my desk. I did not enter the room and repeat: “There must be some yellow flowers here, there must be some yellow flowers here,” and by some kind of autosuggestion bring them magically into being! No, they were there all the time. I just opened my eyes and looked!
Our faith is no make-believe. It is based on the eternal facts of what God has done in Christ. If we dare to venture our faith upon those facts, the Holy Spirit is here to prove them true. See ourselves there in Christ, and instead of putting us down, we are sustained by his power.
It is easy to draw wrong conclusions about things from one experience. For instance we may buy a particular brand of car and from the beginning we have problems. Our tendency then is to conclude that all cars of that brand are bad. We might meet someone who acts horribly and conclude that all their family are horrible people. Or we might visit a restaurant and experience great service and great food and conclude that it’s the best place in town. When we draw a conclusion about something from a single experience or limited experience, we can often be mistaken.
Far too many believers have unintentionally and often unknowingly placed Christ and His person and promises into the category of make-believe. To be sure they may say they believe but that belief isn’t reflected by their lives. Many have their fingers crossed hoping that in the end heaven exists and Christ is real but they are uncertain. There are those who haven’t found the full assurance of salvation even after confession and baptism. When asked they reply, “I hope so.”
For others, God is often put to the test with a prayer request and depending on how He responds determines whether or not they will believe. Still others measure who God is by those they know to be professing Christians. All of these conclusions are usually more subjective than factual. Our faith isn’t based on subjective feelings, but rather on factual truths and yet often feelings about something is substituted for facts. While it might be true that the particular car we bought was a lemon, we take it to the next level subjectively and make the larger conclusion that the whole brand is a lemon. It might be true that the larger conclusion is true, but we can’t know that without the facts. We might feel that it’s true but that doesn’t make it so until it’s supported by facts.
There are a lot of things about life that we don’t know and drawing conclusions about what we don’t know is dangerous business. Someone has said that what you don’t know won’t hurt you but that’s not totally true. Sometimes what you don’t know can kill you. Some years ago I was working on a job with a friend. We were in the attic over a suspended ceiling, crawling over trusses. I noticed some bare wires and mentioned them to my friend who said, “Don’t worry about them. They’re disconnected.” I took his word feeling that he knew until they touched me. It was shocking to discover that they weren’t actually disconnected. After I got over my surprise and managed not to fall through the ceiling, I looked over at my friend and saw that he was surprised too. He said that he had been sure they were harmless. Needless to say we corrected the impression.
As a Christian I’ve found myself having drawn wrong conclusions many times based on what someone I trusted said, some “feeling” I had or some experience. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t have the capacity to figure life out and my feelings and experiences are subject to lots of influences. Over the years I’ve given the gospel to numbers of people; some have received and believed, others have ignored. I’ve watched good people walk away still in their sins and bad people become transformed. I’ve prayed for hundreds of people and at times watched God work miracles and at other times saw the situation not change. Sometimes there seems to be a paradox as both outcomes are happening at the same time. Once while personally battling double pneumonia, as I prayed for others, they were healed as I continued to get worse. I’ve watched a professing Christians acted worse than the sinners around them. I’ve observed them singing “Oh how I love Jesus” while being cruel and vindictive toward fellow believers. As a pastor I’ve seen a lot of the dark side of church. My conclusion to all this is that there’s a lot about life and God that I don’t know.
My faith, our faith cannot be built on what we see, what we feel, or even what we might think we can conclude from experiences. Our faith rests upon facts and truths.
Let me share a few things that you can rest your faith upon.
First of all, the intricacies of nature speak of a Creator who placed all things in order. I think it would take greater faith to believe that all we see in nature came about accidentally without any help. The order of the galaxies, the infinite details of the planets in orbit, the fact that none of our searching has found life elsewhere, the variations of plants and animals, and the amazing bodies we live in speak of a Creator.
Second, historically we know that Jesus was a real person. We know that He was executed-crucified on a cross. We have been told that God chose to purchase us this way because of His love for us and the justice that demanded penalty for wrongdoing.
Josh McDowell says that since Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the Son of God, He was either a liar, a lunatic or indeed Lord. I doubt that a liar would carry the lie all the way to death. I don’t think a lunatic could be able to speak such words of wisdom. So we must conclude that Christ is indeed the Son of God.
Our faith rests, then upon the person of Christ and His promises. God has never promised that everything would go our way nor that He would solve every problem. Every person who confesses their sins and believes that Christ is truly the Son of God who forgives sin is then a Christian, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. Therefore we cannot use people to define Christ. We may be His children, but we don’t always reflect His character.
But Christ is no myth and we don’t have to keep saying the right phrases or having the right experiences or performing the right rituals correctly. When we see Christ as real, just a real as all the other things we know are real, we don’t have to keep reassuring ourselves of what’s in the future. We live each day without having to understand everything because of the reality of the One who walks beside us and who makes His presence known even when it’s so dark we can’t see our way.
Let us echo the words of the apostle Paul, “That I may know Him!”
Dr. John Thompson