Another Angle on Faith

by Lester Young

For the past few weeks we’ve been discussing faith. So this time around I thought we’d change things up a bit by talking about… oh… um… well… faith. Okay, big deal – the major heading is still the same. But trust me: today’s peek will come from an entirely different perspective.

In my last entry, A Pedigree of Faith, I attempted to shed some light on just where (or better yet, Who) we’ve gotten our faith from, and thus why we should be a lot more confident in it than we typically are. “‘Confident’ in our faith? Isn’t that kind of redundant – like saying, ‘Believe in your faith’?” Actually, it’s exactly like saying that, but it’s not redundant at all. Jesus told us in Mark 11:22 to “Have God’s faith” (and when He tells us to do something, if He’s our Lord then it’s not really a ‘suggestion’). That means we should believe we’ve actually been given His Faith, and believe that the faith we have and are exercising is the very Faith God Himself owns and uses. So yes, have some faith in your faith. Believe it’s the kind He said you should have and that it works absolutely correctly every time – just like Isaiah 55:11 said it would.

Alrighty then, so we possess God’s faith – the faith that’s in us is characteristically identical to His. Same makeup – the same ‘spiritual’ DNA, chromosomes, mitochondria (or whatever) – the substance works exactly the same way, start to finish (Hebrews 11:1). Long story short, it’s exactly the same stuff. And if that’s the case, most of us can guess the next logical question that’s almost bound to arise: “If God’s faith is in me, then how come nothing happens when I try to believe for something? And since we’re going down this road, here’s another one: Why’s the whole world in the shape it’s in?” I think intuition alone will bring us to the realization that if we can answer the first question, the second will pretty much unravel itself.

But before we go any further, I feel somewhat duty-bound to offer a mild forewarning: last week I cautioned that some “religious” strongholds and mindsets might experience some ‘shaking-up’. Well… this time they’re about to get punched straight in the gut. Okay, now that the disclaimer’s out of the way, let’s continue.

So, in responding to that first question above, I’ll begin by saying, “How do you know ‘nothing’ was happening? How do you know nothing was working?” Take the fig tree Jesus cursed, for example. After He’d spoken to it and walked away, absolutely nothing about that tree looked any different to the naked eye for at least another twelve hours or so. We know this because it was ‘cursed’ first thing in the morning as Jesus and His crew were on their way to Jerusalem, and when they passed by again late in the day going back to Bethany for the night, nothing whatsoever was said about it. So sometime after that second pass and before the next morning when Peter noticed and very vocally called to everyone’s attention that the tree had completely dried up, the effects of Jesus’ words became ‘visible’ (Mark 11:14, 19-21).

Now if Jesus’ words occasionally took awhile before results were seen from them, should it come as any real surprise that ours might take some time, too? And probably a little longer than His, since He was an expert at walking and living from faith and the majority of us – as yet – are not. (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17) That’s why we absolutely must be prepared to also put patience – which means “long, consistent endurance” – to work and keep it there right alongside our faith, and keep them both on the job until the work they’re tasked to do is completed (Hebrews 6:12). We simply have no other choice in the matter. So it stands to reason, then, that many – but certainly not all – of the faith ‘failures’ we’ve experienced can be attributed (either fully or partially) to growing weak and eventually just giving up on the process because we haven’t “seen” any positive results yet.

But the truth of the matter is that as soon as Jesus made the utterance, “No man [will] eat fruit from you hereafter forever,” His words immediately got busy on the situation that they were shot at (Isaiah 55:11; Mark 11:14). But they went to work on the unseen ‘root’ of the plant – which is, of course, by analogy the heart of the matter, the source of the problem, the invisible ‘spirit’ of the issue behind the visible circumstance. All spoken words – including our own – are spiritual substance, and they shape what happens in the spirit realm first, which in turn dictates the arrangement of the physical world (John 6:63; Hebrews 11:1, James 3:6).

“Yes, Lester, that’s fine; but where’s the ‘gut punch’ you were talking about earlier?”

Glad you asked. Let’s stay on the Jesus-fig tree confrontation, but we’ll narrow our focus to the Lord’s post-‘cursing’ attitude toward the whole thing. Did you happen to notice Jesus was not the one who brought up the subject of that tree the next day? As a matter of fact, if it hadn’t been for Peter noticing its desiccated state, I’m convinced the Lord would’ve never spoken or even thought about that tree ever again. Of course, He ended up using the opportunity that presented itself to teach His disciples a very profound principle. But as far as He was personally concerned, that issue was over and done with, receding in His rear-view mirror. He’d moved on and was through with it.

We see this very same attitude on display again when Jesus healed the ten lepers (Luke 17:12-19). Having separated themselves from the general population (because Mosaic Law required people stricken with leprosy to do so [Leviticus 13:46]), these men yelled toward Jesus for mercy as He passed nearby. The Lord responded by simply telling them to go show themselves to the priests – who, again by Law, had to visually examine lepers before proclaiming them clean (Leviticus 14:1-3). In obedience to His instructions, they started on their way to find the priests, and as they were going they were miraculously healed. Of course, one of them, when he saw that he was completely well, immediately ran over to Jesus and thanked Him profusely.

And here’s where it really gets interesting: Jesus looked down at this guy at His feet gushing over with thanks and very matter-of-factly asked him, “Well, where are the others? Weren’t there ten of you that were made clean?!” You can almost hear the indignation in His voice. And, yes, we can be sure the other nine were healed too because they kept on going to the priests to be checked out, which they certainly would not have done had they still been leprous. So just as with the fig tree, I’m completely convinced that if this one Samaritan man hadn’t come back and worshiped Him, Jesus would’ve never bothered to wonder or even think about that situation ever again. Once He’d spoken God’s Word into it, as far as He was concerned that was that, those guys were healed and the matter was over and done with. No room for any doubt about it, so He didn’t entertain any: “The Word’s been spoken – open-and-shut, cased closed. What’s next?”

Now… who does that?! Who’s able to “not entertain” any doubts?? Well, to be honest, Jesus tells us exactly who’s able to in Mark 10:14-15: “Let the little children come to me! Do not try to hinder, stop or prevent them – never stand in their way. Don’t ever get between them and Me, because these little children are at the very center of life in the Kingdom of God. [They characterize, symbolize] what the Kingdom is all about. God’s Kingdom belongs to people who are like these little children. I promise you that you will never get into God’s Kingdom unless you receive and accept and welcome it the way a little child receives, accepts and welcomes things – that is, with childlike simplicity” (Amplified, Contemporary English, Easy-to-Read, The Message and The Voice translations, combined).

Think about a child for a minute – but not an eight-year-old (or thereabouts) youngster. No, go back even further than that: I’m talking about a little child – no more than three- or four years of age. So let’s say that child’s father walks in one afternoon and tells his kid he’s going to take him to Disney World. What do you think the child’s reaction will be? He’ll break into his ‘Happy’ dance and start screaming, “YAAY!!! I’M GOIN’ TO DISNEY WORLD!!! …And soon as I get there I’m walkin’ straight up to Mickey and drop-kickin’ him dead in the…” – well, never mind about that, but you know what I mean. (Actually, it wouldn’t even take a vacation to sunny Orlando; a promise to go out for ice cream would probably elicit much the same response – minus the proposed violence toward Shoppe employees, of course.)

Now would doubting his father’s word ever enter that young child’s mind? Of course not. As far as he’s concerned, as soon as his Dad tells him, it’s a done deal and there ain’t nothing left to do but pack! That kid doesn’t have time for doubt – and he doesn’t bother making any time for it, either. And why should he? His Dad told him, and to him his Dad’s word is law – as good as gold. He doesn’t know any different than that – the world’s aches, pains, disappointments and “wisdom” haven’t had a chance to do a number on him yet. His ‘believing’ is still total and pure, marked by sincerity and simplicity – uncomplicated and un-‘watered-down’ by the need to always reason things out before accepting them (because “reasoning” can go a long way toward keeping you away from the very answers you need [Luke 20:5-8]).

Didn’t you hate even the thought of disappointing your son or daughter when they were that age? You didn’t want their spirits broken; you didn’t want them hurt or disillusioned on the inside. You wanted them to keep that pureness of faith for as long as possible, didn’t you? You treasured it because it was precious. So where do you think you got that sentiment toward your kids from? You got it from God, because our Father above feels exactly the same way about us.

Now here’s what I really came here to say today: God’s faith is pure and total. So is a little child’s. You want to see a picture of the kind of faith God has and uses? You want to recognize and understand the Faith of God? Look at the attitude and faith of a little child. Take note of the sincerity and totality of his belief when you tell him you’re going to do something for him. God’s Faith and a little child’s faith are no different from each other – they’re the same. You get an idea of the quality and characteristics of One’s Faith by looking at the other. You get an idea of the power of the other’s faith by looking at the One.

Jesus said that God’s entire Kingdom belongs to those who accept it the same way a little child accepts things (and He was irate, by the way, when He said it; because His disciples were – unbeknownst to them – completely undermining the Program at that particular moment [Mark 10:13-14]). The little child’s attitude of faith is at the very core of living – and therefore operating – in the Kingdom of God. Jesus commended and blessed those little children because they possessed the proper attitude for flourishing in the Father’s Ways and Means (Mark 10:16). In truth, they had an attitude just like His: one of meekness, humility and acceptance of the authority of His Father’s Word as “The Bottom Line” and an unbreakable promise, regardless of any physical circumstances or natural ‘facts’ that might seem to be standing in the way of its coming to pass (Numbers 23:19; Matthew 11:29; Romans 4:17-20).

Here’s a real-world illustration of what ‘childlike’ faith does: We’ve been commanded by the Lord to pray both for our leaders and for the healing of our land (2 Chronicles 7:14; 1 Timothy 2:1-2). He didn’t say, “Pray for them only if you like them or agree with them or belong to the same political party that they do”. He said to pray for them – period. So in childlike humility and obedience to a respected Parent, we do it. We find out what to pray from God’s Word – that is, we find out His Will – and we pray it from the heart (Matthew 6:9-10; Luke 11:2). For instance, regarding our leaders, we’d pray (among other things) that they be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth that there’s only One God and only One Mediator between Him and mankind: the man Christ Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for everyone, so that the Good News could be testified to them at the best possible time for each person to receive it (1 Timothy 2:4-6).

Of course, thoughts like this will probably crop up: “What good can my measly prayers do? Our leaders seem like they’ve all taken leave of their good senses and the whole country’s marching to hell in a (really big) hand-basket – no, not even marching… it’s sprinting!” Well, that’s when you buckle on real tight that three-year-old’s spirit of pure faith and answer those thoughts back (2 Corinthians 10:5), “I don’t care what it looks like or what the evening news sounds like! My Daddy told me to pray and He’d heal my land. So I’m praying, and I believe my land’s healed, right now! Why? Because my Daddy said so, and that’s all you need to know! He can’t and wouldn’t lie to me: He loves me much too much for that. And if He’s told me something – anything – then as far as I’m concerned it’s done. And I’m going to speak out exactly what I believe about it! (Numbers 23:19; Mark 11:24; John 17:23-24; 2 Corinthians 4:13; 1 John 5:14-15) I don’t have time for doubt – and I’m not bothering to make any time for it, either. I don’t have to try to figure out “how” it’ll happen. That’s not my job or even my business. My Daddy’s Words have been spoken – open-and-shut, cased closed. What’s next?” (Put another way, it might sound kinda like this: “YAAY!!! I’M GOIN’ TO DISNEY WORLD!!! And in the Name of Jesus I’m about to start drop-kickin’ the devil dead in the…” – well, you know.)

Now if while you’re acting like this you think you’re sounding silly or unrealistic or downright foolish to people – good! To those who think like the world thinks you will sound silly or unrealistic or downright foolish. But just remember, you’re not of the world any more than Jesus is (John 15:19, 17:16). And if they thought the Master of the House was ‘nuts and bolts minus the bolts,’ there’s no need for you to be surprised when they think the same (or worse) about you (Matthew 10:25). Besides, you already know that God has chosen the things the world considers “foolish” to totally confound and befuddle this world’s “wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:27). And believe me, their befuddlement won’t be due to your failure: it’ll be because of your victory (2 Corinthians 2:14). So why bother at all caring what they think? (1 Peter 5:7)

God’s given us His very own Faith, and He’s also provided us a practical everyday example – pretty much everywhere – of just how it looks and acts (Mark 10:14-15, 11:22). So watch and learn the pureness, fervor and ‘uncomplicating’ disposition of a little child’s faith. Because we’re supposed to be using it the exact same way (Ephesians 5:1).

 

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3 Responses to “Another Angle on Faith”

  1. Hi,
    In many ways you are so right. A little child asks his mother or father and when they say yes, the thing that he asked for is for that child a sure thing. He walks off and concentrates on something else. I don’t know about anyone else, but I am sometimes like that eight year old that plants a seed and keeps digging it up because he thinks nothing is happening. It is difficult to maintain childlike faith because it means we have to let down all the barriers we have up around us and sometimes be looked at strangely, not because we are acting strange, but because we are thinking differently.

    Thank you, Lester.
    Shalom,
    Pat

    • Hi, Pat.
      You, me, most all of us have struggled with that. And really, I think, that issue is what it’s all about, because Jesus said the whole Kingdom of God belongs to those with a ‘childlike’ spirit and attitude of faith. It means they have the inside track for operating in the Kingdom. But it’s not to say their faith is immature or not grown up or anything remotely related to that — it simply means their faith is pure — like God’s. They just take what’s given to them in full acceptance and run with it. We have to ‘unlearn’ those habits of ‘doubt’ and questionings of ‘Well, what if this happens or that doesn’t happen or the other goes some such way’ that the world has thrown at us all our lives. And that really just boils down to what we choose to set our focus on: the circumstances or the unbreakable Word of a trusted (and fully Powerful) Father.
      As always, it’s great to hear from you, Pat. Remember, you are Blessed!

      Lester

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