Thursday, October 2, 2008

Faith is Not Getting Others to Pay for Your Vision

I have often heard these words, "I'm living by faith", from people who have quit jobs and are living by faith. That's the code words for being bankrolled by others. (Been there, done that. Oops, I digress.) There is an insidious implication being made that those who have jobs don’t live by faith. They just pay for the ones who are spiritual enough to "live by faith".

It rather irks me when people talk about a faith life that is more mystical, magical, manipulative or subjective rather than being based on a growing understanding of God and His ways and backed up by the Bible.
Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God.

My favorite faith story comes from an encounter that Jesus had with a Roman centurion.

The Faith of the Centurion

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."

Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."

The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Then Jesus said to the centurion, "Go! It will be done just as you believed it would." And his servant was healed at that very hour.
Matthew 8:5-13

There was nothing mystical or “wishing it were so”, in the centurion’s discussion with Jesus. He did not try to manipulate Jesus but simply stated why he knew Jesus could heal his servant from his understanding of authority. For a Roman soldier to fail to do what he was commanded would have meant a severe flogging or death. No wonder the centurion knew the job would get done.

But here’s the kicker. Jesus related the centurion’s "natural" understanding of authority with a greater faith than He had found in all of Israel.

In the same line of "naturalistic" thinking, using a good business plan or good work ethic is not contrary to faith but in fact is a true demonstration of faith.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
1 Thess. 4:11-12

So let’s cut out the absurd idea that great faith means one will exhibit great skill in getting others to finance their vision.

Many leaders talk about faith in this manner but that's not how Jesus taught or lived. He didn't get his disciples to bankroll the feeding of the 5,000, He demonstrated what He saw from His Father.

I think this century has seen more than enough Christian begging and manipulations in the guise of faith.

Nevertheless, men will continue to build buildings and "ministries in THEIR name" as a testimony to THEIR faith in God. Incredibly, many of God's people would have it no other way.

Why then, does the New Testament not bear witness to these modern measurements of faith?

As for me, the only building I'm interested in is the one built with living stones. also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:5

Why does this matter?

If God's people channeled just 20% of their giving away from brick and mortar and pastor's salaries to true caring for others not a single child in the entire world would go to bed hungry tonight.

Some might even consider that a true demonstration of faith.

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