“Have faith in God” – but what does that mean?
I grew up in a Christian community where at least I interpreted “have faith in God” to mean that we were to believe that God existed. It was almost as if God did those Old Testament things so that we could have faith that He existed. And its not much further down that road until some of those things are presented as God whacking us (correction) for thinking or doing the wrong things (or maybe not having enough faith).
There are other views of faith, however. I guess my first question under this initial scenario would be, “If you don’t believe that God exists, why are you even in church?” Lots of people aren’t there: They worship nature, celebrities, government, money and power, just for a start.
Even an uncareful reading of the Old Testament does away with the idea that we are simply dealing with faith in God’s existence. The Old Testament sets out many historical examples where God took specific actions that favored Israel over its enemies. It wasn’t just to prove to us that He existed. God was working to accomplish something.
That view of faith is way beyond the arguments for or against God’s existence, because He would have to exist to have taken those actions that favored Israel over its enemies.
In the New Testament, Jesus appeared. He brought miracles down to a more personal level by actively healing people of disease, casting out demons and raising the dead. But He also calmed storms, and resurrected Himself from the dead (“I have power to lay my life down and to take it up again” – John 10). The demons recognized Him and fled from His presence. Yet He told his followers that they would do greater miracles than He had.
But have we? If not, is our faith the issue, or is it something else?
Most of us do the physical (natural) world pretty well. We know about it, and our churches know about it. When I began my novel series, I remember researching faith healings from the early to mid-1900s, and talking with a pastor who was 95 years old at the time. When I told him, “I think it was real,” he laughed. He put his hand on my shoulder, looked into my eyes, and said, “Of course it was real. I was there. I saw it.”
Today’s church and most of its members are afraid of the supernatural. Yet that is the world our God works in, and we see the effects of the supernatural (spiritual) in the natural world that we are so familiar with.
The New Testament makes it clear that Jesus and God’s Holy Spirit indwell believers. That is as supernatural as you can get, at least in this natural world. I think that as Christians many of us are taught to avoid the supernatural (spiritual) world. But God is resident in both worlds. And the truth is, so are we. Witchcraft and magic will probably plague humanity until Christ’s return, which I believe is very near. I guess that makes me a “Left Behind” apostate, rather than apostle. Jesus said after His resurrection, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations. …” (Matthew 28:18)
As believers, we appropriate His power. What part of “All” do we not understand?
That novel series? Check it out at craigemcmillan.com.
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