Do You Believe?

What does it take for you to believe?

The dramatic comebacks of American Football player and avowed Christian Tim Tebow last Fall has inspired spiritual conversations across the country. Does God help one team win over another? Do godly athletes get a little help from above?

After one dramatic win last season, a friend of my wife—and an avowed agnostic—texted her a simple phrase: “I believe!” Following the game, I checked my FaceBook page and read hundreds (literally!) of messages saying the same thing: I believe!

Gotta See It To Believe It!

Conventional wisdom tells us that we must “see it to believe it.” The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The scientific method teaches us that careful observation allows us to winnow the truth from lies and delusion. After careful research we can articulate a specific hypothesis that over time proves or disproves our theory.

“Science,” my high school physics teacher once explained to our class, “is based on facts.”

One of Jesus’ followers was a “see it to believe it” kind of person.

After Jesus died and (reportedly) rose from the dead, numerous people witnessed the resurrected Christ…and believed. Thomas, however, kept missing out on those “Jesus sightings.”

The rest of the disciples kept telling Thomas, “We’ve seen the Lord!” But Thomas, a born skeptic, told them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

After a week of hearing stories about Jesus being alive, he was sitting with the other disciples locked up in a house.

Then Jesus appeared.

He walked right through the locked door and stood in front of Thomas. “Put your finger here,” he said to the famous doubter as he stretched out his hands. “See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas replied.

Then Jesus offered an interesting observation: “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29 italics added).

Beyond Belief

Think about it: the deepest faith isn’t the result of seeing and then believing. The deepest faith is the result of believing when no evidence is present.

The writer of Hebrews affirms this. In chapter 11, the writer delves into an extended explanation of true faith. “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”(verse 1 italics added). By the end of the chapter, he points out the kind of people whose faith all of us should emulate: people who died by stoning, who were sawed in two, who were destitute, persecuted and mistreated.

These people believed while they waited for God to intervene…and he didn’t.

I know people like that…

A friend who continues to hang on to his faith after two years of unemployment.

An acquaintance whose father died in a car accident. She doesn’t understand why God would let it happen. She hasn’t prayed since the tragedy, but she still holds on.

A friend whose son died of an drug overdose four years ago this month. The grief is still fresh, yet I know she hasn’t given up on God.

That, my friends, is true faith. Believing while not seeing.

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. He’s still trying to learn what it means to walk by faith.

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Do You Believe?

  1. Mike:

    Fantastic reminder about the piece of faith that is so hard for us, hanging on while not seeing much happening. I know in my life I see God’s actions better in the past than even in the present and, of course, it’s impossible to see them in the future.

    Just one correction: It was Thomas not Andrew.

  2. Georgie-ann

    What is faith? I think that faith (in God) is a clearly functioning spiritual gift (or blessing) whereby we are enabled to “see” or feel a supernatural or transcendent or causal connection/relationship between an “unseen” benevolent power/Creator and the prevalent and varied manifestations (to our senses) of our earthly lives. To have such perceptive “moments,” such that an enduring faith is able to take root in oneself, that lasts/persists even through darker moments and experiences, is indeed a “blessing”/gift of God to our contingent selves. We tend to recognize it as the “True” enduring voice that speaks reassuringly to us of itself from the Universe, somehow including us personally in its vast but intimate plan ~~ (the stuff inspirational poetry is made of!)

    Satan’s “static” is deliberately and intentionally very prevalent nonetheless, and seeks to “magnetically” capture our free-floating attention into any one of a myriad of options diametrically opposed to the true Revelation of our Loving and Creator God. Satan desires us to “worship him” rather than the Creator, or at least to keep our vision focused on him and his currently prevailing systems of lies and distortions of Truth. Overall, we humans can exercise some discretion in our choice of influences that we expose ourselves to/(put ourselves under), in both a self-protective and exploratory way, but we will never be able to completely escape satan’s challenges against us and God, as they can be not only environmental and social, but intrinsically interwoven with our human nature and personal flesh as well.

    Such is our lot by birth into this realm. From the get-go it is a challenge, both of discernment and survival and then overcoming. Sometimes we can feel like “passive victim” chess pieces in the hands of these greater opposing forces, but our options will come from within us, in choosing how we will align ourselves in thought, study and action to “deal with” the things that “come onto our (own personal) plates,” which is where the “rubber meets the road” in our lives for each one of us. For long periods of time, our lives may appear to be thoroughly enmeshed and entwined with others, and for certain seasons they may become very symbiotic, and even blessedly so, but ultimately our threads will tend to unwind, one way or another, each of us returning (as we came) individually to (answer to?) our Creator God. Quite a journey. What will it prove? What will my testimony be?

    God tells us He sets before us “life” and “death,” and even tells us to “choose life.”

    Deuteronomy 30:19 “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.”

    I can remember one of my first personal “indelible faith moments.” I was young, visiting friends or relatives somewhere in a sunny southern countryside setting. As kids, a few of us were sent out of the house to eat lunch — (which was “pigs ‘n’ blankets,” fixed with butter on the white bread, a tiny bit salty and pleasant to my taste, soft and easy to chew!) — and we were lolly-gagging around in a soft and cool, green grassy field. Rolled over on my back, seeing the puffy white clouds floating gently by in the unending tenderness of the bluest of skies on the warmest of sweet summer days, I just “knew” — “knew” that there was something kind and vast and personally friendly “out there” in the Universe. No theology connected with the moment at that time, but all theology has connected (for me) with that moment since that day.

    God is kind. He is willing to touch us and our worlds in any way that will bring us to faith in Him.

    Of course, the Word of God had much more to reveal to me as I eventually grew and learned more about this transcendent, omnipresent, omni-powerful God of the Universe, and the on-going saga/drama of our human relationship to Him, but His sweetness and benevolence to usward who believe, has never changed in one iota for me. Seen or unseen, we are blessed by believing in this God.

    Having “the eyes of our faith” opened, after a long period of doubt or mental abstention, can be a lot like finally cleaning/(clearing off) the obscured windshield of the car we have been driving!

    Ephesians 5:15-23

    15 “Therefore I … 16 do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, 18 the EYES OF YOUR UNDERSTANDING being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power 20 which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.
    22 “And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

    Amen.

  3. Georgie-ann

    That’s the first football clip I’ve enjoyed in a long time! A real beauty! Thanks!

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