Lately I've really been wrestling with what my faith means to me, and how do I live that faith daily in my life?
I mean, people throw on the phrase "my faith" like cheap cologne, putting it on anytime they want to smell good for someone.
Saying "I have faith" has become, for too many people, like saying "I have a vague notion about some set of beliefs that I like to think I may or may not have, depending on what we are talking about, but whatever it is I think I may or may not believe, you may NOT question it. It's my faith, after all, and it's very important to me, and I live my life by it. Mostly".
OK, maybe that was a little over-dramatic, but you get my point. The term 'faith' has become a sheep's mantle for some, that we throw over ourselves so that we have the appearance of one who actually practices their faith, whatever it may be.
But what does "my faith" actually mean?
What do I (or you) actually have faith in?
My point here isn't to question your faith, or what you may or may not believe in. That's up to you. What I'm writing this for is talk out, for myself, what it is I have faith in, and see for myself if I'm living up to what I have faith in.
Whatever a person says they have faith in, be it Jesus, Allah, Buddha, etc.... if that faith is real, it should affect how you live. Faith is not just believing, but its relying on that belief to help guide your life.
I can believe a chair will hold me, but I don't actually exhibit faith until I sit in the chair and let it hold me. Those of you who know me, understand this is not a fallacious example. I am a man of some considerable girth, and on occasion I do assess a chair carefully before I sit. There are some chairs that I do not have faith in, therefore I don't sit in them.
"My faith" should be something like that. It should be something that makes a difference in my life. Something that I act upon. Something that I trust.
In my life, I have put my faith in Jesus. I know there are some who know exactly what I mean when I say that, and there are some, although they've heard the phrase, that really don't know what it means.
What it means to me is, not only do believe in the historical figure of Jesus, a man who walked about the earth in much the same way you and I do, but also that Jesus was who he claimed to be: God incarnate on the earth.
Jesus is accredited with doing many good things in the Bible stories. Most philosophers and students of religion acknowledge the good things Jesus taught in regard to personal relationships, kindness, love, generosity and things of that nature.
But Jesus claimed to be God. And, according to the Bible narrative, proved it by miracles, and by being resurrected from the dead. Outrageous claims, to be sure, but all the more amazing if they are true.
As the old adage goes, it ain't braggin' if you can do it.
Which is where faith comes in. I'm not trying to convince you that Jesus is right and the stories about him are all true. I couldn't do that in a million years. That's a decision that we all make for ourselves, about any religion. Freewill and all that, ya know?
What I'm saying is, if I, me, Mike, have read the stories, heard the messages, and God has laid it upon my heart that Jesus IS real, and he did come back from the dead, and offers that to me as well, shouldn't that change my life?
Shouldn't that change the life of every Christian? And I mean radical change!
The Apostle Paul wrote, in 1 Corinthians 15, "But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. We apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave.
But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead.
And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.
But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead (Paul wrote elsewhere encouraging his readers to seek out people who had actually seen and met Jesus after he rose from the dead, for many of them were still alive). He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.
So you see, just as death came into the world through a man (Adam, in Genesis), now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life."
So do I, as Paul did, have faith not only in Jesus and his teachings, but in the person of Jesus as someone in whom I can trust? Can I have faith that he will do as he says, and that he has the ability, because of who he is, to fulfill his promises?
If I sit in that particular chair and its holds me up, shouldn't that radically change my life?
If Jesus is who he claims to be, and I claim to have faith, shouldn't my life reflect the teachings and lifestyle he encouraged? After all, Jesus said, "If you love me, obey my commands."
In many ways my faith has become more and more real to me over the past few years. I've become convinced in my own mind and heart of the validity of Jesus' claims, and have come to accept them as true. As always, people can argue, but no one can prove or disprove, the validity of these claims. It's been that way for 2000 years, and will continue until God changes things, or the earth dies a burned out cinder in space.
My faith has begun to change how I live and how I treat people. I have much more kindness and compassion than I ever had before. I live with peace and joy in my heart, even through many sad and tough times.
In short, I took a step of faith, sat down in the Jesus chair (terrible analogy I know, but work with me), and found it was able to hold me up. In fact, it was quite sturdy and comfortable, even when I put all my life's weight onto it.
I tested Jesus, and he held fast. He didn't cave in.
I guess my question to you, reader, would be, what chair do you trust to sit on?
Will your chair hold up when life gets heavy and times get tough?
Just food for thought.