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The Secret of the Faith Walk

July 27, 2012

The problem that many Christians have is they can’t seem to ratchet up their faith enough for the life that is set before them. They try and they try, mostly to no avail. The time comes when many give up. This can lead to three unsatisfactory conclusions.

1. You can conclude that the Christian life just doesn’t work and leave the church.

2. You can conclude that the Christian life just doesn’t work for you, that you are so inadequate, that it’s just best that you come to church, pretend all is well and hide your inadequacies; perhaps, you may flatter the preacher so he won’t know that you are dead  in the water, without a breathe of air in your sails.

3. You could find something that is easier to believe in: politics, romantic love or just plain sex, some heresy or other religion that is far easier to comply with.

Many of you may remember the faith that you had when you first come to Christ. It all seemed so easy back then because you knew so little about the Christian life or life at all, if you were young enough.

But growing up is inevitable and not always fun. I like to tell new parents that it takes 364 days to truly understand a three-year old: then, twenty-five hours later, they are four. Twelve-year olds, on the other hand, are easy to understand in less than a year, provided you give up a few selfish habits: eating, sleeping, bathing, going to work, spending five minutes a day alone with your spouse.

As we get older, the situations we find ourselves in, become more difficult: the loss or betrayal of friends and family members, unemployment, illness and so on. We are uncomfortable or hurting and more than anything else we want out. We seek heaven to take us out immediately, though not usually to go there. We make deals with God. He ignores them(as he should). Our feelings are hurt. We quit on Him, because we imagine that He has quit on us.

We may become bitter. Bitterness takes a toll on our bodies. We blame God for the heartburn, the arthritis, the other autoimmune problems. This keeps the stress level up and we may rage at the unfairness of it all.

For the record, God never promises to be fair. He promises to be good, which is better. Never confuse the two. What hurts like mad today may be your salvation in years to come. There is a significant difference between when a twenty-five year old man sings, “He’s never failed me yet,” and when an eighty-five year old sings it. One sings about a short history where he may never had to wait and wait for the Lord, while the other may have pressed on through the pain and  now sees the good he could not when he was “pressed out of measure,” as Paul put it.

You would get the impression from some people that the early church had a cakewalk through life. Twelve apostles were martyred, the thirteenth was placed on the island of Patmos to die alone of starvation. When the next person was sentenced to die alone on Patmos, they had a problem, and so, brought John back. The trials of travel in that day, of beatings, jailings and many other problems plagued them. They got no easy ride. Why we should feel that, if we go to church and tithe, we should have an easy ride has more to do with the age we live in than in what God wants to achieve in our lives.

When difficulties, pain and suffering show up in our lives, we begin to lose our faith. And this is absolutely wonderful, not because it makes us unbelieving but because it opens the windows and the doors of our lives to a much higher kind of faith, providing we don’t throw in the towel. Let’s take a look at it.

I hope that you are familiar with Galatians 2:20, if , indeed, you call yourself a Christian. It is not only a declaration of faith but hidden within it is a great secret to living the Christian life. But it is translated in two different ways, one of which is far more helpful than the other.

Since I have no way of knowing which translation you use, I will  approximate each type.

1.  I am crucified with Christ: still, I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and now the life which I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

2. I have been crucified with Christ: still I live: but not me, but Christ lives in me: and now the life I live in this body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loves me, and gave himself for me.

Do you see the difference? As we read the second, it seems that my life depends on the faith in Jesus Christ that I can manufacture from within. People have been trying to live the Christian life this way (even translators) for more than a thousand years. The only problem with it is that it doesn’t work. It never has, it never will. It’s like trying to join two object together with a screw using a a hammer and a nailset.

Paul has something else in mind- the right tool for the right job. Considering that he went through trials so beyond us that it makes most of our troubles seem like “London bridge is falling down, my fair lady,” he needed something that would work in whatever circumstances he found himself in.

And this is what it was- he would live by the faith of the Son of God. He would ask this simple question:  what was Jesus’ faith on this question before me? Then, rather standing on his own fragile faith, which might flee from him in hard circumstances, he stood on what Jesus believed. this is what carried him all the way to Rome. We do well to try it ourselves. We say that we stand upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, so let’s try doing it.

In my fifty plus years as a Christian, it seems to me, when I pick out those who had gone on furthest into maturity in Christ, if they had ever expressed an understanding of Galatians 2:20 to me, this is the understanding they walked in.


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