Our study of faith so far has proven that the subject is more elusive maybe than we had originally thought, or at least that it’s difficult to arrive at a simple but comprehensive definition of faith. Perhaps it’s easier to recognize faith or even to embrace faith than it is to define faith. The late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, when asked to define pornography, said he could not define it, “But I know it when I see it.” Maybe faith is like that as well—easier to feel than to define, easier done than said.
The concept of faith as a lens through which fallen Man can see things as God sees them has resonated with some of us but produced reservations in others. What does God see in your life that is different from what you see in your own life? How do you see yourself? How does God see you? What does God see in others? What do you see in others? Can the Holy Spirit, your inner light, inform you about your faith condition?
For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. (Romans 12:3).
We see that for every wo/man there is a given measure of faith. This gift, it seems, is the faith referred to here:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;… (Ephesians 2:8)
This is faith in God. It is saving faith, available to all who believe. It is faith that hardwires those who wish to be hardwired to God. But it is not the special visionary faith that we saw in the people in Hebrews 11 and its “Faith Hall of Fame.” It seems to be both the medium of the gift as well as the gift itself—both the box and the present.
Carolyn asked last week: What is the relationship between faith and the Holy Spirit? Here we see an important connection because faith is listed as a gift of the Spirit, along with teaching, evangelism, and many other gifts. These are all accepted by faith.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. For just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:4-13)
We see that faith itself can be a gift of the Spirit. My question is: Do you have the gift of faith? In the metaphor about the body and its parts, the community of faith and the application of that faith to the community is like the whole body. We see developing the idea that your faith helps me just as my knowledge, or maybe my wisdom, or maybe my ability to give can help you and can help the entire body of God. This is the wisdom given by the Spirit to help us. So too the faith which is given to you by the Spirit may help me.
Have you ever considered that your faith was important, helpful, or even essential for me? The idea that the gifts of the Spirit are for the benefit of all is a common notion but the idea that faith would be one of those shared gifts was a new idea to me. It seems that all of us have some measure of faith, but that in times of need there are some with supplemental faith, a faith on steroids, a surplus faith that can be called upon when needed by the community of faith.
When we talk about sharing our faith, we usually talk about the concept of evangelism and sharing, with the idea of convincing you that my faith is better than your faith or that my faith is the correct faith. But that’s not, it seems, what this faith is all about. This is functional faith. This is faith that works. Just as your hands work in association with your arms, just like your legs work in association with your feet, so those that have this extraordinary faith can help the body of believers. This functional faith is essential in times of need by the community, and is a special gift of the Holy Spirit.
When it comes to faith, it is apparently not every man for himself. Rather, when it comes to faith, it is all for one and one for all. Have you ever felt the need for my faith? Can I recall a time when I needed your faith? Lest we fall back into the commoditization of faith as currency to be spent and even borrowed, I see this faith as something else, as visionary faith. This is Faith magnified. This is a divine lens through which those with this special gift of faith might see things as God sees them. Not completely, of course, because we’re not God. But they are so gifted that they see things that we don’t see. Their faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Their eyes have been opened like that of Elisha’s servant:
Now the king of Aram was making war against Israel; and he consulted with his servants, saying, “In such and such a place shall be my camp.” But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, saying, “Be careful that you do not pass this place, because the Arameans are coming down there.” And the king of Israel sent scouts to the place about which the man of God had told him; so he warned him, so that he was on his guard there, more than once or twice. Now the heart of the king of Aram was enraged over this matter; and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not tell me which of us is for the king of Israel?” One of his servants said, “No, my lord, the king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” So he said, “Go and see where he is, so that I may send men and take him.” And it was told to him, saying, “Behold, he is in Dothan.” So he sent horses and chariots and a substantial army there, and they came by night and surrounded the city. Now when the attendant of the man of God had risen early and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was circling the city. And his servant said to him, “This is hopeless, my master! What are we to do?” And he said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are greater than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “Lord, please, open his eyes so that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 8-17)
Elisha could see here what his servant could not see. That’s what faith does. But apparently this type of visionary faith is not for everyone. This is special faith. This is supplemental faith. This is surplus faith. This is for the benefit of the whole community. And it deals with insight and it is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
In every age, it seems, at all times—from Abraham to Moses, from Jacob to Noah, Gideon, and Elisha, and down through the ages to Jesus and Muhammad, until our own time with Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela—men and women of faith have seen things that the common man—the rest of us—cannot see. They see justice, they see deliverance, they see opportunity, they see the leading of God, things we cannot see. But they lead us by their faith.
We see this in the story of Moses by the Red Sea:
As Pharaoh approached, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were coming after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone so that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness!” But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will perform for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again, ever. The Lord will fight for you, while you keep silent.” (Exodus 14:10-14)
So in every age God’s gift of extraordinary faith is given to some for the benefit of all. Prophets and kings, rich and poor, young and old, men and women have had this faith. God chooses to share with them the unusual and uncommon gift of faith for the common good. They see things we don’t see, they grasp ideas we don’t grasp, they think outside the box. They are truly the keepers of the flame.
… faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)
And just as you and I have other gifts—of teaching, of wisdom, of the spirit—that are well known to all of us, so too others have the gift of faith. And these, I think, are the ones listed in Hebrews 11, who have seen something that others have not seen, who have been able to appreciate things that others have not been able to appreciate. These are truly a gift. They’re an unusual and uncommon gift for the common good.
What are your thoughts about faith as a spiritual gift and the need to see faith as a community asset? How can your faith help me? And can my faith help you? The body has many parts according to the metaphor that we read from First Corinthians. Faith is one of those parts, no more and no less than prophecies, service, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, mercy, all the other gifts of the Spirit. This is no less true than also having the gift of wisdom and knowledge and miracles.
Who do you think you know—in your circle, in our civilization—who has the gift of faith? Can we identify those who have the gift of faith? Do you have the gift of faith? Or have you been discouraged since you don’t feel like you have the gift and you’re not like those in Hebrews 11 counted as being full of faith? You wish you had that gift, but don’t despair if you have some other gift. Just because you don’t have the gift of extraordinary faith doesn’t mean that you don’t have gifts. Your faith may be ordinary, common; but it is adequate for your connection with God.
Can you live with the notion that your faith may be ordinary? Do you need to have the notion that your faith is extraordinary? Can you find faith? Can you find additional faith in the faith of others? What about communal faith and the need to share faith in this new way? What are your thoughts about faith as a gift of the Holy Spirit?
Jay: I like this concept but I’m comparing or contrasting it with the rebuke that Christ gave the disciples for not having enough faith. If faith is a spiritual gift, as with many of the other spiritual gifts that we know about, some people will have more than others. Christ rebuked the disciples for not having enough faith, letting them know that if they had faith they could move mountains; yet, as a gift, isn’t it out of their control? Is it given only to some and not to others? Is it a gift you can earn, so some earn more and others earn less of it? Do some get more than others from the start?
C-J: I think it’s like a person gifted with the ability to perform music. If it’s not trained, if it’s not disciplined, if it isn’t practiced, it won’t grow, though the gift is still there. And I think our walk with God is a choice that we practice. It’s like a plant: You can give it really good soil but if you don’t water it not much is going to happen; eventually it will wither. But spiritual matters are different.
There was a time in my life where I asked God to take away a gift I had. I said: “It’s meaningless. Whatever you reveal to me, I can’t change it. I don’t even know why you give it to me. It just bothers me, it upsets me.” But I had to grow into it. I think that to whom much is given, much is required. And a lot of people are given opportunities. People will say: “You have this natural talent.” I don’t want the responsibility. I just want to take care of my own family. I don’t want to be a community advocate. Whatever it is, it’s a big responsibility to have any gift because it requires discipline and sacrifice.
Don: We see that that very thing in the life of Moses. He doesn’t want the gift. God’s calling him and says: “I’m gonna give you a special view of faith that only you see and can bring my people out of Israel.” He says the same thing to Gideon. Neither of them wants the gift. It’s too much responsibility. But it’s pretty hard to argue with God. He usually gets his way, it seems.
Jay: Yes, it’s pretty hard to get out of it. Jonah tried hard enough. But in the end, if God is going to give it to you, he’s going to give it to you. What I struggle with is that if he doesn’t give it to me, what’s my responsibility?
Donald: What does the gift of faith look like?
Donald: There are three men in my life I consider mentors. Why did I choose those three men? Because they are wonderful, generous, thoughtful people. It’s a package, it doesn’t manifest itself in just one way. If those gentlemen were to go off the rails it would be quite disruptive to me. A church in Chicago we participated with for 30 years is no more. I thought its pastor had the gift, I thought the organization represented what faith is. It’s very disruptive when it appears you’ve been wrong about people and their faith.
Don: Is faith harder to apprehend or recognize as a gift than, say, wisdom or knowledge or giving or mercy or teaching or evangelism or other gifts of the Spirit? Is faith different?
Donald: Those things are woven together. When you pull it tight you see the package—you recognize the person of faith. But that is a package. It’s not just one thing, it seems to me, But it would be very disruptive, and is probably not a very good thing, to put your faith in human beings, because human beings can go off the rails. But if God gives them the gift, then I think it shows that they are responsible for it.
Chris: I think your question is very important, because what does faith look like? How do we see it? I think faith for each person is different. I think everybody is given the gift of faith. How I exhibit faith is going to be different from how you exhibit faith. Faith is the foundation that allows me to act, to take action. What do I mean by that? As an introvert and a very logical thinker, almost to the point of being rigid, I don’t naturally exhibit by faith by certain actions. However, there are other actions that come very natural to me that I believe when I do them I am exhibiting my faith. Because in the end, it takes faith for me to do that action, to step out. Because I have faith that that’s what I should be doing. That’s how I’m going to exhibit love to my fellow man. That’s how I’m going to exhibit love to God.
So I do believe that faith has been given to everybody. I think we want to put faith in its own bucket, and define it into exactly how it needs to be exhibited, or what faith looks like when faith for you is different than what faith is for me. I think there’s a common end goal when it comes to faith. And I think that’s clearly defined for us. But I think how faith is exhibited is very different from one person to the next.
Reinhard: We’ve mentioned the fruit of the Spirit. Maybe we can use the plant metaphor. Faith itself is an axiom—intangible and abstract. We don’t see it but we can see its fruit. As Jesus told Nicodemus about the wind: You don’t know where it comes from, but you can see the proof of its existence.
Our spiritual life is connected to the Holy Spirit, which plays a big role in the growth of our faith. We listen to God through scripture, through reading the Bible, through our class discussions. It’s like fertilizer to help the plant grow. It brings us closer to God. In our experience in church we still see in life the men of God and how they interact with other people. We like to think to mimic them, to take the good things people are doing to other people, and in this way reflect their faith.
All in all, I think if we open our hearts and surrender our life to God, then more Holy Spirit will work in us and that’s one spiritual thing we can show to other people to counter our antagonists—the devil and his tricks, and human nature, which draw us away from God. If we keep open the channel—the Holy Spirit in our heart and our spiritual experience in life—it will strengthen us and then we’ll show the fruits of goodness, peace, joy that really come from our life.
Jay: If we’re talking about faith as the acknowledgement that there is a God and that God is in control, then I would agree with Chris that everybody has a measure of it. But if we are talking about faith in Corinthian terms as one of several gifts given by the Holy Spirit to each of us in special and distinct ways, as seems to have been the case with Moses, Gideon, and other Biblical figures, then our views of what’s happening will be very different If you end up with the Red Sea on one side and Egyptians on the other side, each will see the situation very differently. When you’re asked to reduce your army down to 300 people to fight thousands instead of taking 3000 with you, you see that situation extraordinarily differently.
If you go through the list of people in Hebrews 11, I think you can see that they see situations very differently from how those without the gift see it. It doesn’t mean that those without the gift aren’t faithful. That’s where I think we might we might run into some issues. We may think: “Oh! I don’t have the gift, therefore, I don’t have faith, therefore I’m unfaithful”
Words are important. If this “gift” of faith is this interaction with the Spirit to be able to see the situations of life, what is the commonality? It is that God’s in control, so there’s no real reason to be worried. So I’m up against the Red Sea, but never mind—God’s in control. So I have to pit my small army against a big one. No worries. God’s in control. So my city is surrounded by a hostile army on all sides. Never fear. God’s in control.
When these people of faith see that God is in control of the situation, those individuals are extraordinarily helpful to the community, as is called for in Corinthians. But not everybody got the gift. So am I okay, not having it? If I don’t have it, can I do something to get it? If I don’t have it, I still feel that Christ’s rebuke that if I had it I could move mountains. Why don’t I have it? I could heal people, but I don’t have it. Why is there any rebuke if some of us just don’t have it?
C-J: I think it goes back to talent. Some people have talent and don’t use it, then there are other people who have discipline and they exceed somebody with talent, they go beyond them, just because they put in the work. And they listen to teachers and mentors. You can’t just practice—you have to practice accuracy. So if your goal is to hit the ball out of the park every time, you have to practice it. Some can just do it naturally. And others, they just have to have the discipline.
I think that it’s sort of like if you have too much energy in a room, it’ll blow up. And that’s why good leadership has to be nurtured by others with discernment, in terms of what would be the best leader in this situation—there may be other people more gifted, but this person has a way of communicating that doesn’t stir division, Some people like a leader who says: “Here’s what we’re going to do.” Others like a leader who asks: “How do you think that you can contribute to making this happen?” Two different ways of approaching it, but you might get to the same place. Sometimes you need people with leadership that is strong, some that’s collaborative. I just think that the same leader isn’t the best leader in all situations.
As an example, look how many times Biden tried to become president. This is his third shot. But the man he is today isn’t the same man he was 20 years ago. Sometimes we have to be in school a long time to be ready for the right time in the right place. And that’s how I see God, His timing, his place, his person. And if you look at it that way, there’s no shortage. It’s time and season.
I’ve been in a church that split and blew up and people walked away from their faith, and walked away from their marriages. It was ugly and painful, and the pain lingers. But I don’t look at it through the same lens. Now I say: “Yes, it hurt; but don’t look at your pain: What did you learn?” It made me a stronger Christian. At the time, I crumbled. But now I’m a stronger Christian, because I know the work isn’t done until it’s done. Each of those people was there for a reason. Each of those people experienced that differently. And I think that’s the way we are through our entire journey in our faith.
You’re right, not everybody has those real highs and those real lows, but we all get there in the end if we choose it. Faith is also a choice. My neighbor died last Sunday. She was an unbeliever and she made her living in the street. But she was a very good woman. It’s just that she believed a lie. She had her 25 year old daughter in the room when she died. And today I’m going to invite that daughter into my house and talk to her about not the woman she knew, who gave her away, but the woman I knew, and the woman who took her back into her home. I think the journey is never done. Even in death, there’s life. And that’s what I want this young lady to see: Not what her mother got wrong, but what her mother got right.
Don: Ahmed can draw, he can sculpt, he can do things artistically in plastic surgery. There is no amount of training, no amount of education, no amount of effort that would ever bring me to even a smidgen of closeness to what he can do artistically. Jay’s question: Is is true of the gift of faith that there are those who have a very special gift, unusual and extraordinary faith on steroids, supplemental faith, surplus faith? And is it true and that no matter how much prayer, devotion, pleading, doing the right thing, and so on you do will ever bring you to the place of the faith of Moses, the faith of Abraham, the faith of Muhammad, the faith of Jesus?
Is there some barrier, and if so can you live with that? It’s easy to live with the notion that I’m not a teacher, or not a person of knowledge, or not a giver. But to say that I have a limitation in the amount of faith that I can have, or that my gift of faith is an ordinary gift, not an extraordinary one… that’s a little harder to accept, it seems. I don’t want to have ordinary faith. I want extraordinary faith.
Donald: I don’t think we can underestimate personality. If you and I both have the gift of faith, it will be exhibited in a much different way based upon the way we view our world and how God has made us. It’s our package. So we are carriers of that faith and we will—and should—exhibit it differently. I taught for 20 years, and out of a group of 50 kids I could make probably 30 of them real happy. The other 20 just had to put up with me because my personality and my method of teaching were mine and I was not there to be popular; I was there to accomplish something.
The first assignment I would set them would be to give every student a camera that none of them had ever used. So they all have the gift, they all have a camera, and I give them an assignment and give them the parameters. That is a little rigid, but that’s okay. They’d come back in two weeks and we’d have a critique. And no two were alike! You’d quickly realize that some people have the innate skills of a photographer, who did very well but don’t know why. And what was fun was I would tell them why they accomplished what they did, even though they didn’t know—it was intuitive with them.
So I think personality is part of the package. We don’t know who we influence. Iif I really don’t connect with the way in which you package things, it’s okay. So you’re going to work with somebody else. I think that’s what Chris was saying. You have a couple of personality types that some people will be attracted to, while other people will say: “Chris who?”
Kiran: Jesus’s rebuke about faith is still unresolved in my mind. But on the other hand, in thinking about visionary faith versus normal faith (in the context of Black History Month and Martin Luther King, Jr.) I learned that he had always been an introvert, a bookworm, and non confrontational until one day—sitting at his kitchen table and reading an ultimatum to get out or be burned alive—he realized his calling, he saw something that he knew nobody else could see. And he realized that God was leading him. It was as if faith was imprinted on him at that moment. And then he became a different person altogether.
This kind of visionary faith is a calling. It is given to some people as a gift, and it changes them. This is something I don’t desire, because Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, Gandhi was killed, Nelson Mandela went through years of imprisonment, and Moses went through such a rough time. A calling is not something that we should wish for. Only God can tell if we are fit for the calling or not.
But I still don’t know why Jesus kept saying you should increase your faith when everybody was given a measure of faith.
Chris: I find the story of Gideon a little perplexing and a little reassuring. I don’t see what Gideon has to do with faith. He said to God: “Okay, let’s put the fleece out and let’s see if it stays dry on a wet ground” and then continued demanding further proof. It doesn’t sound like somebody strong in faith, does it? But as the story progresses, his army starts getting peeled away more and more. At any moment he might have called it quits. It’s almost like God is sitting there and telling us: “You’re going to be given a certain measure of faith. It might be real small. Maybe you have an extra large portion. But I can do something with whatever portion of faith you have. You have to let me work with you on your faith.”
Maybe that’s where the whole growth of faith lies. I do believe everybody has been given faith. I really do. But what portion of faith you may have can vary. At the same time, your portion can grow. It’s a matter of who you’re allowing to help you grow that portion of faith. As a child, my understanding of faith was very much influenced by certain people and grew over time. I think my portion of faith is still very small, to be honest. Maybe it’s my personality. But I do believe that God has given us some sort of portion of faith, and it’s a matter then of what are we going to allow him to do with that faith?
Jay: That notion is intriguing to me. I struggle with it. I would say that I’m passionate about discipleship and empowerment, and I want to empower and impassion people to serve other people. I want them to utilize their gifts to do so. When we think about discipling, when we think about empowering others, what we really think about is not just strengthening their weaknesses but also leveraging their strengths so that they can utilize and maximize those strengths to the best of their ability.
That seems to be the goal of Corinthians. The goal does not seem to be to get everybody’s gifts up to a high level. The goal seems to be a community of a variety of gifts by which to act as a community. Because if all of my gifts are at a high level, then there’s no point in my being part of a community. There’s no point in service. But when my gifts are needed or I need someone else’s gifts, that is a community structure, a building structure, that seems to me to be defined in Corinthians.
I say I struggle with it because we are very happy saying to people: “You don’t have the gift of teaching, so leave teaching to those who have a gift for.” So too for hospitality and wisdom. Let’s make sure that we utilize those people when we’re making decisions and planning for the future. But we sure are not comfortable saying “You don’t really have the high-faith gift so let’s talk to the high-faith gift people about this.” That’s where I feel we want to be. We all want it but some of us have less and some have more. We all want to be able to grow it. Of all these gifts, nobody is saying let’s focus on growing faith as opposed to teaching, etc.
We can grow this faith one. It’s okay if I don’t grow the teaching one. Nobody cares. Nobody’s out there to make sure you’re growing the teaching gift as much as you’re growing the faith gift. Nobody’s doing that. The question is why? Is it because we’ve got it messed up and we should be growing teaching as much as we’re growing faith as much as we’re growing all those? Is that it? Or are there things that God the Spirit has given to you? Make sure you’re utilizing those things for the good of the community. And do we really need you to cultivate all the other 11 gifts that you might be low in?
Chris: What is being talked about in Corinthians to me is very dependent on the community, or the part of the body, or the body itself. So if the body is lacking something, what is our responsibility, then? Is it to continue to ignore the weakness to the detriment of the body? Or is there a responsibility for us to figure out how we can grow out of the weakness? Any good leader would identify and deal with the weakness.
If you would have told me I would one day be teaching adventures to little kids, I would have said you were a nut job. My gift is not to be teaching little kids. But I ended up teaching adventures to little kids for over 10 years. So for me it is situational. I think everybody does have a measure of every gift. Is it my responsibility necessarily to grow every gift if the community doesn’t need it? Maybe I don’t need to grow every gift. But that’s up to God to determine. It’s not up to me to determine.
I’m struggling with the concept of the need to grow faith if we have other people who have that strength. I have a feeling it’s situational.
Jay: Then you’re limiting the scope of community by making the Corinthians very situational. The community that I believe we’re talking about is not a specific church community or family or institution: It is the kingdom of heaven, the community that Christ is trying to build. And so I agree with Chris in a very situational, specific, institutional sense.
But God’s principles are timeless and culture-less principles that can be applied beyond the Oakwood Seventh Day Adventist Church, the Monroe Seventh Day Adventist Church, and so on.
Robin: I can agree a lot with Chris. I can understand Jay’s point of view as well. I can agree with both of them. I think it it does get influenced much by personality. But I think we are overthinking this (and I’m the greatest overthinker God ever made, probably!) because it’s not something we earn.
We don’t grow the faith, but we are open to having God grow the faith. It’s like photography: Donald discovered an attraction that became a passion. It was a becoming for him. It was God who was growing that in him, it wasn’t him earning it. He is open to having God keep filling him for the passion of photography or for any other kind of gift.
Sometimes we sweat about having enough faith, when God just wants us to be willing to listen and to let him bring experiences to us. It’s not us earning faith. It’s us being willing to experience situations that will naturally grow faith. It is God who gives the gifts. The gifts are his discernment. The gifts come from him. We are just vessels who learn to be willing (and I have to be dragged sometimes by a team of horses) but I can look back after a while and see different parts where I’ve grown in things that I thought would never happen.
Some people do seem to have a little bit easier time. If I mention to a certain person that I’m worried about this or that or the other thing going on in the world or going on in my life, they’ll say to me: “Why, Robin? Where’s your faith?” it’s easy for them to say because it just comes easier to them, whereas I struggle between faith and earning. So this is why I can see Jason’s point and I can see Chris’s point and I can see that they are equally valid, coming from different personality types.
But we don’t earn it. We’re open to God working in our lives. And that’s where Gideon and Moses and Abraham and Noah and David and everyone in the hall of faith had to come. They all struggled at first, in some way, but they had to be open to God growing that in them—to being willing to let God work.
Bryan: When it comes to faith, I have a lot more questions than I do answers. I do know that the Bible is full of examples of the “move mountains” kind of faith—the lion’s den, the fiery furnace, Abraham sacrificing his son, and so on. To me, those examples really don’t do much. In fact, they can even lead to disappointment in God, because faith to move mountains seems unattainable to me.
The greatest story of faith in the Bible is probably the story of Job. The children of Israel had God in front of them for generations—the pillar of fire, the cloud—and it really didn’t increase their faith at all. You would think so, but it really didn’t. In fact, it may have been a detriment. So the type of faith where you can see God directly probably isn’t the right thing to ask for.
Job’s life was made an example between Christ and Satan, unbeknownst to him, in the battle between good and evil. He himself did not question his belief system, his faith. It carried him through. The mountains that move were the mountains inside of him. It may have moved the friends that questioned his faith, but Job’s the one who has faith that I think is attainable.
Donald: One of the best and most moving lectures I ever attended was given by a gentleman who developed a tool (which I would recommend) called Strength Quest. When I was using it and advising academically challenged students it changed the way I did business. It was very easy for me to sit there and say to a student: “You’ve done this wrong, you’ve done that wrong. Let me look at your grades” and in turn everything into “I know the circumstance.”
The tool is basically a personality profile, but it changes a little bit because it applies it. You have got to have some core strengths or you’re not going to succeed in (in this case) college. You have to have some fundamental ones—discipline, those kinds of things. But what we—what I—tend to do is we see it through our eyes, and say “You need to change this, this, and this” rather than “What are you very good at?” and develop that. So it was weakening or lessening the challenges and strengthening the talent. And to me, it’s still a package. So for someone to describe the way I should be packaged, I think is probably somewhat inappropriate because we all have our own personalities.
Don: Next week we’ll talk more about faith as a spiritual gift. We’ll talk about robust and extraordinary faith, and the concept of what it means to grow or to augment or to supplement our faith.