The Wheel of Faith or Fortune? Character

I was once going through the book of Romans with a group of junior high boys (a task worth at least one extra jewel in anyone's heavenly crown) and learning alongside them about what faith is.

As you probably know, the word "faith" in the NT can mean faith, belief, and trust, depending on the context. Paul tells us why he is not ashamed of the gospel, "for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes"--that is, has faith. "Faith comes by hearing the Word on Jesus Christ" and leads to calling on the Lord--how can they call on him if they have not first believed, and how can they believe if they have not first heard. Faith undoubtedly leads to salvation in Jesus.

But what of faith after salvation? Does faith continue to work in the same way? Or is there a growing aspect for someone in his or her faith? Or does faith stay the same, but one's capacity to hold it and wield it become greater? Wow, so much like spinning a wheel to be able to guess a letter and solve a riddle and win a fortune this pursuit has become. 

Well, I don't know yet. I do know God created me for a capacity of faith. I do know the Bible has stories about this. The disciples of Jesus asked their Savior themselves about this, "Hey, Jesus, increase our faith." They at least assumed faith had a small start and could have a larger end. Perhaps they saw in Jesus a great faith, greater than their own, and that if they had the same amount as HE did then they could do what HE did. Sounds plausible. 

After all, Jesus did preach about size and faith, "If you had even a mustard seed size of faith, you could say to something as huge as a mountain, 'go there!' or 'go there.'" But that isn't His response this time. In His next parable, Jesus teaches them that it is not about size, but about kind. Wait, so there are different kinds of faith? Huh.

When the disciples ask for more faith, Jesus tells them a story that explains that it is not about more. I explain it like this: a friend of mine wanted to go raccoon hunting at night in the woods in our area; I told him he needed a dog to go hunting coon at night. A week later he had not seen any coons while hunting. I told him he might want to get another dog. I saw him three weeks later and he said he bought a dozen dogs for hunting raccoons and was going to give up because he still had not seen one coon. I paused, then asked, "Wait. What kind of dogs are you hunting with?" He replied, "Chihuahuas." 

This is a case and point where having more of something will not help you. I think it isn't about having more faith but having the right kind of faith. And this is what Jesus went on to explain. 

Oh, yeah, a couple of other points worth mentioning: Jesus did not do many miracles in His hometown due to their lack of something... hmmm. Oh, and Peter DID walk on the water! It was only after he took notice of the tossed waves that he began to sink. He cried out to Jesus who asked him ... something...  something about ... Yes, and another time some seed fell on some rocks and quickly spouted up with joy, but when testing came later, they gave up because only for a time did they have roots in ...something ... And Jesus heard that Satan had demanded Peter but Jesus told him that He had prayed that ... something of Peter's would not fail. That something in each case is of course faith.   

So it would seem that the answer is ... both--faith is something that can grow and become bigger and stronger, but it is not meant to be big and strong for no purpose. It is not a body-builder sort of thing meant to show off its huge muscles. It is to be much more practical and useful. So what is the purpose of faith? To move mountains, like Jesus said?   

Faith is BIG because it is rooted in God. And God created me to have faith. Faith leads us to God (salvation) because that is how God created it to work. Faith is also one of the three biggest activities in this world--Faith, Hope, and Love. And faith paired up with hope and love is like an undying battery charging us up for anything in this life--as long as it is connected to the Glory of God through Jesus Christ. Being faithful, then, is staying where faith led you--with God. 

Paul wrote to the Romans that faith is born inside us when we hear the reading of the Word of God. This never changes--whether we have been led by faith to salvation through Jesus Christ, or we continue to walk in faith. The Word of God is at the core of our faith. 

At one point in their walking with Jesus, the disciples tried to cast out a demon from a boy but could not. Jesus returned and was able to do it. When asked by his disciples why they could not, Jesus said the faith necessary to do such acts came through an avenue of increased faith--by prayer and fasting. These two acts together can connect your life to God, unlike other ways. 

Only GOD can make faith grow--like sunshine on a seed. I do believe He has set roads ahead of each one of us to have our faith in Him increased because He loves us and hopes in us and believes in us. All of the roads of faith, I imagine, lead us closer to Him and to each other. 

Mark shares a story about a man who had a child in need and came to Jesus asking him if there was anything he could do. Jesus said to him that anything is possible for those who believe.  Perhaps your prayer is like this desperate man's whose mind turned from his child's need to his own: "Lord, I do believe ...  help me in my unbelief." 

My prayer for you: May God grant you not only avenues for increased faith, but the strength to walk them and the eyes to see how far you've come in your walk of increasing faith in Him--to His glory!

ps. I leave off the citations of where stories and verses can be found in the Bible, believing that if you are interested enough, and your faith is big enough, you will go and search the Scriptures for yourself. And, when you do, you will find much more revealed to you, because that is how God works.

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