We exercise faith every day. For example, sending our children off to school; filling a prescription then taking medicine; eating in a restaurant, depositing money in an ATM, signing a contract, driving on the highway, to mention a few ways. Faith isn’t some religious experience for the elite; it’s the glue that helps hold people’s lives together.
If everyone uses faith, what makes Christian faith different?
Faith is seeing God in every situation.
Everett Alvarez Jr. was the first American pilot shot down over North Vietnam on August 5, 1964. He spent eight and a half years as a prisoner of war, the first one and a half in solitary confinement. He was beaten and tortured.
His darkest hour came after seven years in prison. On Christmas Day 1971, his captors let him read a letter from his mother that said his wife had left him.
Alvarez emerged from captivity with a new spirit. He remarried soon after his release in February 1973. He earned a law degree in night school. He held two senior political posts in the Reagan administration. In 1988 he started Conwal Inc., the executive management consulting firm that employs over 200 people and pulls in more than $15 million a year.
In an interview, he said, “The hardest part was being alone. I used to do a lot of talking. I talked to God, and I realized I wasn’t really alone.” He scratched a cross outside his hut. Christian faith does not deny the problems and challenges of life. It does not turn away from reality. But it understands that beyond the facts of this world there is a higher reality.
Faith is no stronger than its object.
Faith is more than having faith in faith. Many have been misled to believe that if one had enough faith, they could do anything, even the impossible. But faith in what? Faith is only as good as its object. If an astronaut put his faith in a single-prop Cessna to get him to the international space station, he’d be nuts. His faith, no matter how sincere, reliable, or determined would get him no farther than the Cessna’s built-in power.
William Newton Clarke was right when he wrote, “Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see.”
For the Christian, faith is in God. He is the object of the Christian’s faith. That is huge. By placing their faith in God, the Christian has all the power, guarantees, and resources at their disposal.
Faith grows out of a relationship with God.
Let’s suppose you’re shopping in a department store and a total stranger approaches you and says, “I think you should loan me $500 so I can buy a new washing machine.”
My guess is you’d either ignore him or say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t do business that way.”
Obviously offended, he would probably reply, “What’s the matter? Don’t you trust me?”
I can hear your answer: “Trust you? I don’t even know you!”
Trust is a relationship that can be built only over a period. To hand $500 to a total stranger and expect to get it back isn’t faith; it’s presumption.
But let’s suppose it is your spouse that asks for the $500 to buy the washing machine. You would give the money, not because of presumption, but because of the relationship.
The Christian faith is not based on presumption, but rather on a walk with God and a growing relationship with him.
Faith is not unique. It is as commonplace as the air we breathe. But how we demonstrate and practice that faith is unique. And that’s what makes the Christian’s faith distinct from the rest of the field of faith.