What Good is Our Faith
Is our faith real?
I have a question to ask that I often ask myself.
What good is your faith ----------------------------------------------------- to others?
Right now, because of COVID-19, we’re asked to follow social distancing guidelines. We spend more time in our homes where our good and bad traits are amplified. Now we have more time for social media. And do we find social media to be social or anti-social? Considering the stress in our lives, how can we build up our faith, rather than watch it erode?
Our faith is what determines whether our good or bad traits are most prevalent. When we're stressed it is very difficult to change our focus. We need to follow God everyday, whether good or bad. When we do this then we'll have a temperament that can withstand the trials of life. Scripture is the best place to go to learn how to gain spiritual growth. And that starts with gratitude for what we have and recognizing God id the giver. Our prayers need to reflect our reverence for God and thanksgiving every day as in the two passages below.
(Philippians 4:6-7 WEB) 6Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 WEB) 16Rejoice evermore. 17Pray without ceasing. 18In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Rejoice instead of being anxious, pray often, in everything give thanks, and God's peace will keep us, in our hearts and minds, safe in Jesus.
What does prayer and thankfulness get for us when we are lacking so much? How can we have peace when everywhere we look is a dead end? Well James has some practical advice as long as we continue to pray and give thanks. We need to be looking up to God and avoid being self-isolated even though we maybe physically isolated.
(James 1:2-4 WEB) 2My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. 3Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Stress is one thing that's easy to come by when I'm stuck at home with health issues and age that make me vulnerable to becoming very sick if I get COVID. And I also get stress from the few times I'm out of my house around people that see no reason for social distancing and masks. This is where it is easy to get upset, take it out on my wife, and judge other people for their actions.
But James says I can have joy in this very circumstance. Just as in strength training it takes a real effort and some pain to build our muscles; James says I can learn patience. Not only that but perfect patience that allows me to accept and appreciate what I do have; and to be patient in listening to and helping others.
In the real Lord's Prayer (John17) Jesus prays for Christian unity and our perfection. And that perfection in the Kingdom of God starts with each one of us individually.
(John 17:23 WEB) I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.
Leaving our security
Mostly our faith is witnessed only by people we already know. And sometimes our enemies witness our worldly ways. Jesus describes what we think of as our Christian outreach.
(Luke 6:31-34 WEB) 31And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. 32For if ye love them who love you, what thanks have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. 33And if ye do good to them who do good to you, what thanks have ye? for sinners also do even the same. 34And if ye lend [to them] from whom ye hope to receive, what thanks have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much in return.
But unless we step out beyond our comfort zone others will not experience our faith. And we won’t see what God can do through us by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Luke 6:35-36 WEB) 35But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind to the unthankful and [to] the evil. 36Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. There’s that word merciful or mercy. We rejoice in the mercy we’ve received. But do we embrace this precious gift enough to pass it on to others. It’s often said that hurting people hurt people. I know that one personally. It’s only through my living Savior and the gift of the Holy Spirit that I can think of the right thing to do when my flesh cries out for vengeance.
Missing Our Freedom
Now I don’t know about you – but I miss the freedom I had before. But I know of people who have a lot less freedom than I have. There are people with limited income to start with that have no work because of COVID. Others have health issues, that besides COVID, cannot drive and become limited to other peoples schedules. There are children in dysfunctional homes that are not able to use online learning.
In my case my loss of freedom is really no more than an inconvenience. And for Christians in homes where God's word is prohibited, this becomes a spiritual attack. I don't know how to help in these situations. I pray however, that the joy and patience that James writes about is an integral part of every Christians character.
For instance, I’ve never been jailed for expressing my Christian faith. What would we do in such a circumstance? Paul and Silas were in a close trying situation also.
(Acts 16:23-25 WEB) 23And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast [them] into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. 24 Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. 25 And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises to God: and the prisoners heard them.
We need to ask ourselves how many strangers have heard of have seen our seen our faith in Jesus? We need to have a faith that impacts others. It cannot be just to people we know. Plus, we need to have a faith that also reaches our enemies. In general, our faith should be a blessing to everyone we encounter. Our faith should also motivate us to reach out to others we currently don’t know.
Can we tell if we're a good Christian when we're complimented? But think of Jesus; what did the crowd do when they had a chance to save Him as He stood in front of Pontius Pilate?
In our increasingly immoral society our chances of being critisized for our faith are increasing. Based on what I've already written, Ibelieve I've made a case for exceptional behavior. The kind that of behavior that makes us stand out in the eyes of God; and in the eyes of critics. If we say we follow Jesus, isn't this what we should experience?
Jesus spells this out in the beatitutdes.
(Matthew 5:11-12 WEB) 11Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
We need to be aware that if we're held in esteem by wordly people, tht it is because of our good works and not because we fit into their culture. Always be willing to reach out and at th same time don't be surprised at negative attitudes we might encounter.
Lets just follow WWJD.