THE ABIDING LIFE
Keeping the Faith
By Gwen Sellers
What does it really mean to have faith in God? Is it about salvation? Yes. Is it about obedience? Yes. But is there something deeper to it? Why is faith something we have to keep? Something we have to work at and maintain (1 Corinthians 16:13; Hebrews 10:23-25)? I think it's because faith, at its core, is relational. It's about trust. Do we trust God enough to believe Him and then to act on it?
I'm working on an article about how we can keep our faith and decided to ask friends and colleagues for input via Facebook. I was surprised at how many responded to my request, even some I haven't spoken to for years. Obviously this is a matter of daily importance to people. They have an opinion because keeping the faith is something they are actively involved in. A twelve year-old responded through his mom that he keeps the faith by avoiding that which would lead him astray. This reminded me of just how important it is to have a firm foundation (1 Peter 2:2). We need an actual faith if we are going to keep it (1 Timothy 4:11-16), and it is wise to flee from things designed to lead us astray (1 Corinthians 10:14; 2 Timothy 2:22). Others replied with their daily Bible reading habits, the importance of prayer, the significance of fellowship, the power of remembering God's truth by knowing Scripture, the need to examine ourselves and be vigilant about our faith, and the essential component of spending real time with God.
Faith is kept through active relationship with the object of our faith. We need to learn who God is and experience who He is. This happens primarily through Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship. The Bible teaches us about God and, as God's living and active word (Hebrews 4:12), also nurtures in us a longing for Him. Prayer is a means of intimately relating with God (Hebrews 4:14-16; Psalm 62:8; Philippians 4:5-7). We pray intentionally, and also constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17). God enjoys our times of solitude with Him as well as the moments of our daily lives. He is present in all of it and invites us to commune with Him even in the midst of monotony (Psalm 139; Hebrews 4:13). Community is helpful in encouraging us to continue our pursuit of God (Hebrews 10:24-25). It's also great for learning new truths about God and for expanding our view of God. We learn together, rejoice together, and follow God together. Community is also often the context in which God directs our actions (Galatians 6:10).
It was helpful to see how others view their faith walks and to hear their nuggets of wisdom. The content of the responses was not unexpected, but it was refreshing to my own faith. There was, however, one response that stuck out. It came from my sister. She has recently prepared some teaching about keeping the faith and one of her challenges is, "What are you doing now spiritually to prepare for an uncertain future?" We aren't just keeping our faith now. We're girding up our faith to prepare us to keep it in the future. Keeping the faith isn't that difficult when times are easy. I can believe that God is good and that He loves me when everything is going well. It's when the worry of uncertainty worms into my heart that my faith waivers. It's when those unanticipated hardships come along that I question God's character, or at least my understanding of it. It's for those times—when faith is challenged, when the outlook is bleak, when we're at the end of ourselves—that we continually build into our faith. First Corinthians 10:12 says, "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall." Even if we don't have a particular struggle with believing God, we are wise to consistently firm up that belief. Keeping the faith is an active and daily component of the Christian life. It is not only something we wrestle with during the difficult times, it is something we habitually do no matter the circumstance. What we do now matters for how will approach what's next.
As my brother-in-law put it, "It's very hard to stray from the faith when you realize that all good things begin and end with God; that God is the source of truth; that life, light, hope, and our whole existence come from Him."
Photo credit: Jean Edmonds
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