Preface: Though a great teacher, Jesus did not establish a school of theology or philosophy. His purpose was “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He came to reveal the character of God, a revelation that culminated in the cross, where He not only showed humanity and unfallen worlds what God was really like, but He also paid the penalty for sin so that human beings, despite their fallen nature, could be redeemed. In doing so, He also created a redeemed community, a community of those who, having been saved by His death, have chosen to model His life and teachings. The call to be part of this redeemed community is a call to absolute allegiance to Christ Himself. What He desires becomes the disciple’s sole purpose in life. Discipleship, which we owe exclusively to the indwelling Christ, makes certain requirements. No competition and no substitutes are permitted. And without faith in God, discipleship cannot be accomplished on our own.
Have you ever taken a sentence-completion test designed to help you express how you feel about a subject? Example: College is like taking out the garbage—you have to do it, but it’s no fun; or Work is like a new pair of glasses—it helps you see things more clearly (although Mondays are rough).
These sample sayings contrast the way two people might feel about something. Actually, most words we use express our feeling tone. And our feelings often keep us from understanding the meaning behind the words.
Have you ever thought seriously about your feelings toward the word faith? To help you think about them, complete this statement: Faith is like . . .
trying to hop a freight train—you want to jump on, but you’re afraid you might not make it.
a warm shower—it washes away tension and makes you feel clean and ready to go.
a TV dial—when you turn to the proper channel, the TV set does the rest.
walking a tightrope—you don't dare lose concentration for a second lest you fall.
Hopping a freight train and walking a tightrope are poor pictures of faith. They both focus on human effort—everything depends on us. And when we start to think that faith is something we do, we lose the whole meaning of Christian faith and the secret of freedom, power, and joy.
The Bible makes it clear. When we say that we have faith, we’re not really talking about ourselves. We're saying instead that God is trustworthy and is doing something exciting in our lives. God has an adventure that can make your life and relationship with Him fresh and different. He wants you to discover what faith really is. When God invites you to believe in Him, He’s not asking you to try harder. He’s asking you to allow Him to work His miracles in you.
That’s what the Christian faith is all about. It’s about God, who loves you and reaches out in Jesus Christ to touch your life and do wonderful things for you, in you, and through you. If faith feels heavy or scary to you, look at it more as an ongoing adventure. Grab hold! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!