Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Radical Faith

I’ve been thinking about the 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews. This chapter is often called the “Heroes of the Faith” chapter. More recently I’ve been thinking we could subtitle it “Examples of Radical Faith” Each of these women and men were radical in their following God’s command and the faith that they had to have to trust God for the promises that he made to them. In some cases they came to the end of their lives still not having witnessed the fulfillment of the promise that God had made. Yet each of them still believed and trusted that God had not lied to them. To me that seems pretty radical. How about you?

Hebrews 11:6 seems to say that “where there is no risk there is no faith!” It appears that faith is found not in the safe warm and gooey middle but rather on the ragged scary edge of faith is where we find God’s purpose for our lives. Obedience is pitted against comfort and convenience. Often those around you say that you are crazy for being obedient to God’s call when it is inconvenient. So we must add that often discomfort, inconvenience and questionable reputation are often the results of radically following Jesus. But heroes are people who have acted at great discomfort and inconvenience to themselves and it is only after the fact that their reputation becomes impeccable.

In this results-driven society we look at outward results such as numbers whether people, decisions, baptisms, or money. God also is results driven, but he looks at the heart. Ultimately he looks for obedience. God defines success much different than man. He defines success as being obedient.

Chip Ingram put it this way, “Just remember that were there’s no risk, there’s no faith; where there’s no faith there’s no power or joy or intimacy with God…. A lot of churches that are considered great by people are considered hollow by God. They miss the common denominator of all great Christians: radical faith.”

God considered these heroes great not because they were fearless but because they were obedient in spite of their fear choosing a risky adventure to the status quo. My apologies to my more conservative readers for my next illustration, like a poker player who sees that the pot is worth everything, after looking at his hand and calculating the odds is willing to go “all in” to take the chance to will against the odds, the person of radical faith is willing to go “all in” in the service of his King. Knowing that the odds are in his favor to win the prize he perseveres to win.

Now don’t think that I’m saying we don’t look at the odds or seek the wisdom of counsel. The difference between faith and foolishness at times can be a thin line. But being obedient to God’s will is never risky business. It’s simply the best game in town and the only sure bet there is.

The difference between faith and foolishness and faith is not the degree of risk but rather the will of God.

All of us suffer from one major concern in our lives – FEAR. Fear of failure often paralyzes people from doing what they know they should do. I believe that fear is healthy but what is unhealthy is what your fear focuses on.

  • Do you fear financial ruin? Me too
  • Do you fear failure? Me too
  • Do you fear looking foolish? Me too
  • Do you fear what others think? Me too

What is more important fear of man, or fear of God?

Probably 15 years ago, it finally dawned on me that I was preparing Sunday services with an eye on what man thought rather then caring what God thought! When I realized my failure to be concerned about God’s thoughts I had to not only repent but change my mind set and my way of doing things.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The Bible doesn’t mean a petrifying fear but a fear that recognizes the transcendence of a holy God who has chosen to come near. A fear that acknowledges His otherness and our sinfulness and yet he still desires to be “with us.” Check it out, each time an angel or God appears to humans most often the first words that we humans hear is “Fear not!” God wants to hang out with us and wants us to succeed!

Now that’s radical!

Pastor Val

No comments: