I’m convinced that most of my journey to spiritual maturity now days has more to do with detoxing from things I’ve picked up in church along the way so far than with learning brand new things. I’ve been unlearning a lot of things over the past few years. And I always feel so slow—like I should’ve gotten this a long time ago.
Right now it’s belief. Faith. What is belief? An encounter with a couple of Christian women a few months ago triggered all sorts of thoughts on this topic. They told me God wants me to have a husband if that’s what I want. Hmm. And they told me that if I didn’t believe that, I would never get one. Because God only gives us things when we believe Him for them. I mentioned this in a post in February after the conversation – wrestling with the issue that God gives us the desires of our hearts and all that… I told them that I want a new car too, and I asked them if I started believing God for that if he would give it to me. They weren’t as certain on that one. To be honest, this really confronted me with what I think belief is. What they said had an all-too-familiar ring to me. But it went against everything God had been teaching me recently. I challenged them in a defensive and befuddled way, but I actually had a hard time refuting their theology in the moment, so I’ve been thinking about it in one way or another since then.
This crisis counseling class I just took has me thinking about it again. People suffer. Life sucks at times. Does our faith or belief change that? No. (I feel like I’m blaspheming by saying no… Detox in action.) Why was I led to believe that it does? On my way to class the other day, I heard a guy on the radio say, “Faith does not affect the outcome of our situation,” and I was like, “Yeah! Wait… is that right? Hold up. I thought faith did affect outcome.”
It made me think about belief in Santa Claus. A few years back, my oldest nephew suspected he wasn’t real, but he was so afraid that if he stopped believing, he would stop getting presents. Is that the kind of belief God requires? If we believe he’ll give us presents, if we believe he’ll give us what we want, then he’ll come through. Is that what belief is all about? Really?
God is winking at me right now because I prayed for a digital camera last week. I can’t afford one. I just told God I’d like to have one—but no pressure. Someone just gave me one. (But I’ve been asking for an IPod now for months… nothing. Maybe I don’t have enough faith for that one?)
God does ask for our faith, our belief. When Jesus performed miracles, he often commented on the faith of those he healed. But what kind of faith? What kind of belief? Belief in the outcome I want? Or belief in who Christ is? He’s asking us to believe in who he says he is. To trust in his character. Our faith is not in believing he will give us what we want—our faith is in believing that he is enough. We believe that even if we don’t get the healing we want, the financial miracle we want, the situation we want, God is on our side, He is good and merciful, He is powerful and able. This is faith. Our faith grows in suffering as much as in miracles and answered prayers. Maybe more. We are asking for bread, and he is telling us he is the bread. We have to trust that. That is belief.