Wednesday, June 30, 2021

What is faith?

All photos courtesy of Unsplash 
It has been my privilege and very great blessing to have taken hundreds, if not thousands of school assemblies.  These have ranged from nursery school age to sixth formers and even into colleges and universities.  It is certainly challenging to face a hall full of young people - all with their own ideas - no doubt all wishing they could be somewhere else than school listening to a visiting speaker!  It is essentially telling them a story that has a particular point which encourages them to think and reflect about aspects of God and how we can know Him.

Sometimes I have spoken to smaller groups such as a class of pupils. To illustrate the reality of faith I have pulled a chair to the front and then asked a student, any volunteer will do, to come to the front.  I ask him to look at the chair. He does!  Then I ask him whether he thinks it is made of good quality materials and he answers in the affirmative.  Then I go on about the way it was made and how the materials were put together and we agree that it is well made with everything in the right place. I then ask him if he believes that the chair will take his weight.  This is when the fun starts.

He, invariably, says, ‘Yes, I believe it will take my weight’.  I then clearly and obviously contradict him and say, ‘You don’t believe it will take your weight’.  Usually this can go back and forth for a while with him saying ‘Yes’ and me saying ‘No you don’t believe it will take your weight.’  Eventually I bring it to a close to make a significant  point.  I say to him, ‘You know it will take your weight but you don’t believe, because belief involves commitment.’

He knew the chair would take his weight because it was well constructed and made out of good quality materials.  There were similar chairs in the classroom and larger and heavier classmates were sitting quite comfortable on those chairs.  Therefore the evidence was clear that the chair would take his weight.  He had sound knowledge but had not exercised faith.  Faith is more than knowledge.  We could call faith ‘belief in practice’.  Faith is an active word and involves putting knowledge to good use.  For that school pupil the act of faith would have been to sit on the chair and commit his weight to it.  We engage in all sorts of faith actions each day and so often we do not even notice and would hardly see them as actions involving faith.

The whole point of the exercise was to demonstrate something much deeper and which has eternal significance.  The act of Christian faith involves far more than mere knowledge.  The evidence is very real and quite obvious for the existence of God and so many people would state that they were not atheists but believed in some supreme being.  The evidence for the existence of Jesus is overwhelming.  There can be no doubt that He was a historical figure who was amazingly influential and who brought about the greatest social and spiritual revolution this world has ever seen.  

He wrote no books but libraries are brimming with books, magazines, articles and pamphlets relating to Him and examining who He was and what He said.  He never went to university but some of the greatest educational establishments in the world today were set up to study His life and teaching and to train people to be church ministers.  He composed no songs but thousands, even tens of thousands of hymns and sacred songs have been composed in His honour.  All over the world His Gospel message of repentance and faith is proclaimed.

As we see Jesus, through the words of the New Testament we consider someone who loves us deeply.  He cares for us enough to die for us and to receive us into His home in Heaven.  We see a Saviour who was powerful and could do mighty deeds, known as miracles.  He has the power to save us and take us to Heaven one day.  As we look at Jesus we might have understanding and knowledge about Him.  We know He loves us and has the power to save us but we have never exercised faith.  That is the call of the Lord upon our lives.  As the Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”  Yet faith is about commitment - like the  boy who had to commit his body to the chair - so we need to commit our whole lives to Christ and say, ‘Thank you for your love and power, come into my life as Ruler and Lord.’  Everyone who has ever done this has never, ever regretted it because He is a glorious Saviour.  It is worth thinking about!

Written by Paul Young for Messages with Meaning  (26/06/21) & Your542Day 


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