Thursday, May 10, 2007

Faith in Faith?

Having attended Oral Roberts University, I am pretty familiar with the faith movement. I thought I had heard it all. Until I was driving to Krispy Kreme this morning (baby Bean needed some blueberry doughnuts), and heard a preacher on the radio exclaim, "It's not God that heals you - it's your faith that heals you! Can I get an Amen? If you believe it, God HAS to do it! The Word says so." Thankfully, we had not yet purchased our doughnuts or I might have choked. Ummm, no. God MUST do nothing. Otherwise He would not be omnipotent. Where do these preachers come up with this?

Kenneth Copeland has said that the reason God blesses unbelievers is because they follow God's principles without even knowing it. They follow the "laws of the universe" by believing for wealth and sowing seeds. A freakishly popular book out right now is called The Law of Attraction. Supposedly these are Abrahamic teachings on how we can attract good thing in our lives by using the power of positive thinking. Basically, you believe and meditate on good things and you will manifest them in your life. Faith teachers teach the exact same thing, but they clothe the paganism in Biblical language. (You can mix the rat poison into your coffee, but it's still poison.)

My whole problem with the idea is that you are using "principles" to obtain results from the impersonal universe. We are not called to do this. We are blessed to be able to take our requests to a personal, intimate, caring God. We are called to trust (a more accurate translation of "faith" in most Biblical contexts) - but we are not trusting in rules, the universe or any formula. We are trusting in a living God who knows us intimately and desires to work with us on every detail of our lives.

I think the key is having faith in God. That is, faith/trust in God's goodness, benevolence and good plan. Not faith in faith or faith that God will do whatever I will. I have heard preachers say that praying "if it is your will" is double minded or shows lack of faith, and I just back away. I don't want to be there when the lightening strikes. Jesus prayed "Thy will be done," and instructed his apostles to do likewise. Good enough for me.

We have to remember that this world isn't it. God uses us for His glory here, and our temporal happiness is not His biggest concern. What does the Word say about it?

Job 13:15 "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face." (Notice Job did not say that he hoped that God would do what Job wanted. His hope was in God's character and person.)

Hebrews 11:13 "All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth."

Hebrews 11: 36-40 "Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect."

These folks were commended for their faith and yet DID NOT RECEIVE, because God had something better for them than what they desired. If we look at Job, Paul, Joseph , David, and others in the Bible, we don't see them trying to work up some frenzy of faith so God will have to bless them. I think reading your Bible and saying "God, You have to do this because I have faith that You will" is Christian witchcraft. The Bible is no spellbook and we should not be using it to try and control God. He MUST do nothing, else He is not sovereign. We are called to have faith and trust in God Himself, not in our puny understanding of what He should or should not do in a particular situation.

I think some preachers have horridly temporal values. As if blessings or prosperity in this world were all that. This life is like a vapor, and I think as we grow in Christ and gain an understanding of how fleeting it is, we can have an eternal perspective instead of a temporal one.I think the best prayer we can ever pray is "Lord, I trust in YOU! Glorify Your Name in this situation." Sometimes that means a physical healing, sometimes it does not. It's not up to me, the child, to demand my way. It is up to me to ask and then accept His answer as perfect, because my understanding is limited.