1.confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another's ability.
2.belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.
3.belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.
4.belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.
5.a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.
6.the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith.
7.the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one's promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.
8.Christian Theology. the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.
I especially like #2.
I don't know if it's just all popped up at once or if I'm just suddenly paying attention to it, but I seem to be noticing more and more that people have forgotten what faith means.
This has been a struggle for me to deal with because to me, faith has always meant the same thing--believing without seeing. One of my favorite quotes is from Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." I remind myself of those words often because there have always been times in my life that I have questioned what direction I'm supposed to go, what path has my name on it, which way is the right way. I'm not a theologian, I'm not a bible scholar. I'm not claiming to be an expert on anything--but my Dad always taught us that we should share what we know. Here goes...
Have you ever seen the movie Baby Geniuses? It's about 10 years old and not exactly the best movie ever, but it's about these toddlers and their universal language (I know...a winning idea) and there are two scientists who are trying to crack the "baby talk." Basically, the premise is that babies, before they reach 2 years old share a sophisticated language that allows them to communicate the knowledge of the secrets of the universe with which they we born. The rest of the plot is completely irrelevant to the point I'm about to make, so I'll just move on. At 2 years old, a baby "crosses over" and learns to walk, "talk" and essentially forgets the universal baby language, along with the memories of what has happened those first 2 years regarding the secrets of the universe. Don't ask me how this movie has stayed with me for 10 years, but there was one scene that I remember. Two babies were trying to "talk" to an older kid...one who had just "crossed over." One of the babies can't understand why the older child doesn't understand, until it is explained to him that she's moved on, grown up, forgotten...
Here's my point. Sometimes I think as adults we reach a point where we move on...grow up...forget. We learn more and more, become educated at university levels, fill our minds with fact after fact, read book after book, listen to scholars, professors, experts, scientists, psychologists, delve deep into history, origins, language, until we ourselves become the experts, scholars, professors...
Is there anything wrong with learning? No way! Knowledge is a wonderful thing. But what happens when our knowledge outweighs our faith?
I have seen it all around me--the turn from faith to find security in knowledge. I didn't learn the words finite and infinite until college. I'd heard them, but never learned them until I sat in Stonestreet's Biblical Worldview class. Finite means having limits, boundaries. Restricted. As humans, our minds are finite. We don't have all the answers and we weren't meant to have all the answers. If I knew all the mysteries of God, then were would faith fit in? In 1 Corinthians 3 Paul addresses this issue of worldly knowledge vs. heavenly knowledge. Wisdom of Man vs. Wisdom of God:
(vs.18) "For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (19) For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside." (20) Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? (21) For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (22) For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; (23) but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, (24) but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. (25) Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men."
God wisely established that men could not come to know Him by human wisdom. That would exalt man, so God designed to save helpless sinners through the preaching of the message that was so simple the "worldly wise," deemed it nonsense. If you continue to read in that chapter through to the end, you can also see that God does not call us to Him based on our level of education (thank goodness). In fact, we are told that we need to have the faith of a child!
"At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, 'Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, 'Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name receives me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea."
Children are dependent on others for survival. They are helpless. They have to trust someone to take care of them, which you can see the rewards of when you witness a child that grew up in a loving home, confident of his security verses a child that has grown up with no home, no love, and doesn't know security. God calls us to humility, dependence, helplessness. If we were capable of survival on our own, then were would faith fit in?
Now, for an unbeliever, sceptic, or cynic...this most likely means nothing to you...it's biblical--you will see it as foolishness. Is that okay? Not to me, but I'm not the one who can open your eyes to the truth. I can only plant the seed. My faith, as a believer means that I believe Scripture is the living Word of God. It's not "pick or choose what I like," it's the whole thing. Does that mean that I read it all and never question or doubt? Of course not. Have you read the Bible?! It's complex...but at the same time, the message is simple. When I get to the place in my faith that I can relinquish all independence, that's when I'll be able to face those questions. There is no fear in asking when my motive is to truly learn about God, all the while trusting that His ways are perfect and His Word is infallible. When I question God with a proud heart, with the intent to gain personal satisfaction at increasing my knowledge, I believe that's when I've crossed the line. The Bible is full of examples of people asking questions. But pay attention to how God and Jesus respond to those individuals. You can see that it always comes back to their motives. Studying under a great scholar is a wonderful experience. It's exciting to be in the presence of genius, but have you ever been in the precence of an arrogant genuis? Boy, is that a totally different experience.
I had a teacher in high school who was a know it all--fresh out of school, no teaching experience, zero ability to relate to us as students. He could NOT understand why we didn't catch on to pre-calculus as quickly as he was teaching it. If we answered wrong there was no grace, no teaching moment. It was instant humiliation. He didn't make it through the whole year. He knew how smart he was in comparison to the Juniors and Seniors in his class and he sure did rub it in. No fun.
My point in all this is that God gave us the ability to learn, to expand our knowledge, but He did that for a purpose. It wasn't so that we could run around challenging people to debates or write a million books exulting our vast storehouses of information. Instead, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of this age." (Matthew 28:19-20)
I don't have anything against authors or public speakers, etc...but it's sad to me that amount of people that are forgetting what faith means. They've crossed over and left their faith behind. Faith means not having all the answers. It doesn't mean that you can't look for them, but don't forget that there is a mystery--keep reading 1 Corinthians 2.
I am not the most eloquent, I am not the most intelligent, I am not the wittiest or the cleverest. But I am confident in my faith.
"And when I came to you, brethern, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdome, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God." (1 Cor. 2:1-5)