Thursday, March 6, 2008

Believe versus Faith

I used to love to fly on airplanes. That is, until I was about 16 years old. We flew into Denver over Christmas break to go skiing and winds knocked the plane just before we landed. Since then I’ve been pretty apprehensive about putting my life in the hands of a pilot I never even get to see.

I have to believe that the pilot knows what he is doing; that he is competent and confident in what he does up there behind that locked door. I also have to believe what I’ve read about air pressure, the shape of a plane’s wing, and lift and propulsion and everything else that goes into lifting a 190 ton plane – with me in it – off the ground. What kind of food, what movie, how friendly the crew is, and its on-time stats are pretty far down the list of my reasons to trust a plane. It comes down to this – I have to believe that the pilot knows what he’s doing and that the plane is going to do what was designed to do before I get on it.

Do you see that this is more than mere acknowledgment that a plane flies? This is more than just believing a pilot knows how to fly a plane. This is faith.

In James 2:19, we read about the difference between belief and having faith.
Many people say, “I believe in God.” May people say, “I go to church regularly” (which most of the time means once every month or so).

But even if you go every week, this kind of belief is not enough. James makes the point that demons “believe in God.” In other words, they know God exists and they know who God is.

Our relationship with God is more than just acknowledgment of belief. It is placing our trust in Him.

Max Lucado sums up John 3:16 as
God loves.
God gave.
We believe.
We live.

We all have moments of disbelief, doubt and concern. And that’s not really living, is it?

We have these moments especially when something very bad happens that shakes the very foundations of our world.

Mary and Martha had that experience when their brother Lazarus died. From this story we see belief displayed by Martha and by Thomas.

Thomas’ belief – that Jesus had infuriated the Jewish leaders so much that they wanted to kill Jesus. Jesus going to Bethany would be the end. His belief was such that he was willing to go with Jesus to die.

Martha’s belief – that Jesus could do anything and that Lazarus would rise on the last day.

Belief today – “I believe in myself.”
“I believe in insert name here.”

But there’s a stronger, more reliable belief that Jesus Christ Himself offers to you.
So many people think that Jesus was a great teacher. That He was a merciful man. That He was popular martyr.

But belief in that Jesus only takes you so far. It doesn’t take you all the way to where you want to go. Martha would have found that out. Thomas would have found that out. They believed in Jesus, yes. But Jesus was going to take them to another level of belief. He was going to take them on an adventure like they’ve never could imagine – and He is going to take us on the same journey of faith!

Jesus is the Son of God who was sent by God to save the world because He loved the world. Jesus Christ died on the cross for you. He took your sins, your sinful heart, and gave you His perfect heart.

Are you ready for this kind of belief? There are some who just aren’t. They are comfortable where they are now. But the kind of belief, that kind of faith in Jesus Christ who died and rose again for us, takes us to is levels of living that is uncomfortable and scary for those not prepared for it. Step off in faith. Jesus has got you!

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