By David Faust
Mindless Christianity isn’t biblical Christianity. The foundational rule of the Old Testament stated, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus called this commandment the most important precept in all of God’s law—but he added, love God “with all your mind” (Mark 12:30).
Jesus deliberately emphasized the role of our minds in our relationship with God. Balanced, wholehearted, thoughtful faith gives us “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).
Believing Against all Odds
Romans 4 focuses on the faith of Abraham, whom the book of Genesis describes as heroic but flawed. Abraham was adventurous, willing to go wherever God led him. But he was also fearful and deceptive, telling Pharaoh that his wife, Sarah, was his sister. He was brave, leading a horde of trained soldiers to rescue family members from marauding kings (Genesis 14:1-16). He asked questions; he worked hard; yet he also tried to improvise his own solutions when God didn’t seem to be coming through. But when all was said and done, Abraham’s life could be summed up in one word: faith.
“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations” (Romans 4:18). When the odds were against him and it looked like hope was gone, Abraham still believed. When he and Sarah were nearly a century old and childless, they clung to God’s promise that he would give them a child.
Paul wrote, “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead” (v. 19). Notice the phrasing: “Without weakening in his faith,” Abraham faced facts.
Realistic but Optimistic
Christians don’t believe in spite of the facts; we believe because of the facts. We believe in a God who is really there, a cross that was really stained with the Savior’s blood, a tomb that’s really empty, and a Spirit whose power really changes lives.
Abraham was a realist. That’s why he believed in the reality of God—which made him an optimist. “He did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (v. 20). Abraham was aging and far too old to father children, but he trusted in the ageless God. He didn’t deny his own limitations, but he trusted in the God who has no human limitations.
C. S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” Faith enables us to see ourselves realistically—to face our limitations and weaknesses, not deny them. As you age, faith moves you to turn over the business to the next generation of up-and-comers and give them the chance to lead. When you face the fact that you can’t fix your loved one’s addiction, you can trust the situation to God and stop trying to control it yourself. When you finally recognize that your own abilities aren’t enough, then you’re ready to grow in your walk with God.
Faith faces the brutal facts, but it never gives up hope. Realistic, hopeful faith is “the victory that has overcome the world” (1 John 5:4).
1. What does it mean to live by faith?
2. How does faith help you face the facts?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for March 9, 2014
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Numbers 5, 6
Numbers 7, 8