Thursday, April 16, 2009
THE FRAMEWORK OF FAITH part1
Are you not happy that our faith and your beliefs are under attack? Is it not delightful that our quest for Christ is harassed and condemned? I am joyful and we all should be. It is in times such as these where men and women of God must defend their faith. Can we give reason for our religion and offer convictions in our character? If we are not willing, in a time of war, (and make no mistake, as Christians, we are at war) to stand up and fight for what is good, just and virtuous, what does that say to our God? What does it say about us? If you are a Christian and you cannot defend this (The Bible) then you need to increase your knowledge in the Word and prepare for battle for the world waits to ambush those who are fragile and flimsy of Faith.
Teenagers today who attend religious youth groups, gatherings and Sunday Schools are an interesting assemblage. There before them lies their entire lives and most cannot defend the book they are asked to read from each week. But what’s worse they have a propensity to attend these meetings to congregate with their peers rather then to define themselves as individuals in the body of Christ. Long before the world was made, God had a plan for me, and you and every one of the young people scattered among us. But what is the bride of Christ doing to help them find God’s purpose for their existence?
For so many years the question, “Who am I and where am I going?” was on the lips of my generation. Books were written and read and answers scant and scarce. Everyone thought they knew the answer and felt obligated to tell everyone how they found it. And now it seems the authors of those books flounder and struggle for meaning still. They were placed here by God not to give us the answers but to show us they do not have the answers; they do not hold the key. God does! The “I’m Ok You’re Ok” generation is…..well, not ok.. As a matter of fact it, is far from it and it trickles down into the generation that follows in a seemingly endless plight of non-conversant kids unprepared for the will of God and the mission he subscribes to our journey.
The application of the will of God to our lives is a discipline of discipleship many will not master, either by choice or by following false ambitions of currency, supremacy and gluttony. Is living a principled life too much to ask in an age of ethical anarchy?
No. It’s not. But you need faith. The inescapable fact is that without faith, life becomes mundane and cruel. It turns reward-less and cheap. Faith comes from a belief that something is real and true, but holds little or no earthly value.
I read a story of a minister who was asked to visit a very sick young man. He went to the home of this boy and met his parents. They took the pastor into the boy’s room, which smelled of death. The boy was pale and unresponsive and looked to be hours if not moments from death. The parents told the pastor that a faith healer had been by that morning. The mother said, “Do you see that jar on his night table there?” The pastor looked and saw a jar filled with a purple spongy mass, sprouting roots in a briny fluid. He said “Yes I see it”. The mother said that her husband had sent for this faith healer and he had come that morning and seemingly like magic, without a knife or a cut he had reached into her son and pulled the cancer out of him.” The pastor looked, prayed and spent a few moments at the side of the boy’s bed. He then gave the parents his card saying, “Call me if you need me. I will come right away”. The boy died within an hour but the pastor only heard days later. But the mother and father believed that this was their only hope. They put faith in this person they had only heard of to come and heal their son. It was a false hope, but it was faith, nonetheless. The pastor knew that God heals if it is his will. But when you look at this kind of credulity, the naked trust of one never met, then the question of faith, unwarranted by anything except a dire need, that someone has the power to rescue you out of this terrible situation, comes to a head and we see what faith really is.
The flip side of this is a man like Bertram Russell, a devout, hard-nosed atheist who was asked by someone this question. “Mr. Russell, what if when you die and you stand before the Almighty living God and He asks you ‘Why did you not believe’ what then, will you say to Him? And being the undaunted atheist that he is, said he would tell God, “You did not give me enough evidence to believe in you”.
The problem with non-believers is not the absence of evidence to believe,
It is the suppression of it!
In John chapter 2:12-20, Jesus is going to Capernaum and John writes:
12After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days. 13When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. 16To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" 17His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me." 18Then the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" 19Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." 20The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" 21But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
This is arguably one of the two most courageous things that Jesus ever did. The other being the passage in Luke 4:14-21 where after being in the wilderness for 40 days, Jesus goes to the synagogue and stands before the people and he is handed the scroll and quotes Isaiah where it reads,
“18"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Then Jesus says, “ Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing”.
Jesus, after turning over the moneychanger’s tables, is accosted by the leaders of the religious community and asked, “by what authority do you do this?” And he says to them, “"Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." I’ll tell you something right here and now, that is faith. For these scribes did not understand whom they were speaking to but at the cross, they’re eyes would be opened and everyone who knew of Him, knew he was the Son of God. Jesus’ shows faith in His father by giving up his powers in heaven to become a servant of man and of God and to dwell with us in this place. What he said in the Temple would follow him all the way to Calvary. And this went right over the heads of the scribes.
One thing I loved doing as a youth leader is set up debate teams and have students challenge the believers on their faith and make them defend it. And even more fun is watching the non-believes try to defend their lies and shallow beliefs. God smiles when scripture is given in the face of adversity and decent. The more you read and learn, the easier it is to be right.